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October 15, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. How do you decide whether or not to send Roger back early and how do you handle jet lag?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think just for the game, you have to do it. I mean, coming west to east, jet lag, I mean, do the best you can. I mean, last year, we sent Andy Pettitte ahead, and there was a chance we were going to clinch it at home and we didn't. So he would have been celebrating by himself in Oakland last year. We just felt because -- by the time we got in at 4 o'clock in the morning it would be best if he got there and got a good night's sleep.

Q. What does this series and the others say about the home field advantage?

JOE TORRE: Good teams get into post-season and good teams normally will have good pitching and closers, and I think that's why it sort of negates some of the advantage of home field, other than the fans. Normally, a good team will be able to hold the lead in the ninth inning and that's what it's all about, where if you're the home team and scoring at the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, you don't have to defend it. Baseball is different than other sports I think in that regard. I know we have never been intimidated by the road, and when you get to this point of playing one game as we are right now, I don't know, maybe it's like sudden death in a golf match where some announcers will say, you know, hitting first and putting the pressure on the other guy is more important than trying to keep up with him, I don't know. But I think right now, it's just a coin flip.

Q. Didn't you say last year or recently that there may be less pressure playing on the road?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. I think when you're talking about that, I think maybe on the road in the so-called home-field advantage situations, like last year, we started in Seattle. I said I thought that was less pressure to start out on the road because when you're at home, like we were in this series, you feel like you need to win two games, and it really puts a lot of pressure on you. When you start on the road and just think in terms of if we can have the two games here and we go home, we're in pretty good shape. I think that's what you are probably referring to.

Q. So you throw that all out?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think so. We've played each other now, four times, and we're going to see their pitcher for the second time. They are going to see Roger for the second time and I'm sure their staff will be available, as ours will be.

Q. How tough is it to make out the lineup card without O'Neill and Justice in it?

JOE TORRE: It's tough. It was very tough for Game 3 to do that. But again, they are not swinging the bats like they are capable of swinging them. They are working at it and I think Pauly was better yesterday than Justice was, but again, I still don't think they are as good as they want to be right now. These left-handers are pretty tough and I feel like maybe I just want to have them on the bench where if there's a situation I can bring them off the bench in a situation. But it's not easy to do that. I think it was a little easier than going into this game than it was to do it in Game 3.

Q. Art made some comments at the beginning of the series that caused him some grief. Do you suppose he was right?

JOE TORRE: We are both proud of our teams and there's no question that we knew going in with their pitching staff and the power they can throw at you, we had to pitch very well. And the way we played that game on Saturday night and plays we made, and just dealing with the pressure, there's no question there was no room for any kind of little hiccup in that thing. But if he said that, he certainly was right and we knew it. There was nothing that we felt was a challenge to us. He just stated a fact in his mind.

Q. What do you consider your best decision in this series and what have you learned in this series?

JOE TORRE: I think you learn things all the time but you may not think about it until it's over with. I think as in Game 3 of the World Series in '96, pitching Cone in Game 3 there, I think Mussina really put us in a position to come back here by the way he pitched on the road in Game 3. So I think that decision was probably the -- you know, the best one I made.

Q. You've been wearing that cap for a few days now, "it ain't over till it's over," what does that mean to you, the word?

JOE TORRE: It's interesting, when Yogi says all these thing, you giggle at first and then you realize there's substance to it. I was packing it after the game on Thursday and I saw it on my shelf and I thought, this is appropriate, it's not over yet and I just threw it in the bag. Yogi asked me today, "where did you get that hat?" I said, "You gave it to me." And he said he's had several phone calls today from people want to go buy the hat. (Laughter.)

Q. You haven't put a lot of pressure on yourself having to win but New York really wants you to win, how do you reconcile it?

JOE TORRE: There's no question what the city has gone through, what the country has gone through, it is in our hearts. I think what has happened, just the fact of going to Oakland down two games to none, and getting back here for tonight's game, I think speaks volumes for the toughness of this team. Now, whatever happens tonight is the team that plays the best and gets a break here or there. But, you know, I just think the attitude and the toughness of my ballclub in these last couple of games, you know, I'm proud of it and I think the people of New York are also.

Q. Under which circumstances would you see Pettitte in this game, and would he be only available to a point?

JOE TORRE: I think early on the, the first couple of innings, maybe as early as the bullpen warming up. We may have to raise our hands and ask for an additional amount of time. I don't anticipate that happening because Roger has thrown a couple of times on Saturday and Sunday, and he felt fine about all that stuff. But I think if we look at Roger and watching him for the last couple of years, you pretty much know what looks good and what looks smooth and what doesn't. But, for sure, if you think that he's really struggling and his stuff isn't what you'd like to see it, you know, we make a move. But normally it would be early, I'd say within the first three, four, five innings. After that, I still tend to use the Stanton/Mendoza and Rivera, not having to warm up yesterday, he's probably available for a couple of innings.

Q. It's your second Game 5 against the A's in two years, would you prefer this be seven games?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question, when you get to -- you play all year long, you'd like to believe that the important series is the first one because, you know, you have good teams that get here and you'd like to make it a little bit longer. But I think that may be impossible, but what may be possible is maybe the extra off-day could make it a little better. I like it better, 2-2-1, because before it was home-field advantage, and then you went on the road for the next three and I didn't think that was home-field advantage. But the last couple of years, going from coast to coast -- I had a little smile on my face when I got to the ballpark yesterday and saw the Oakland suitcases in the hallway. I said, "Oh, now Arty has got to do what we had to do last year." You don't want to have the thought of saying, "We're going to get on a plane," but you need to do it. It's introducing a negative where you really don't want a negative, but you have no choice because of the makeup of the series where there's no off-day.

Q. Do you think Oakland has the feeling that you had last year, having to come here and rally the troops?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, they went into Game 4 with a 2-1 lead. As I said, you want to think positive and come to the ballpark expecting to go back home, but bring it back. It was nicer for us, coming home with everybody, more comfortable, even though we have not won any games here in the series. But again, it comes down to how we play. Their ballclub, the year they have had and what they bounced back from early on, you know there's a lot of fight in that ballclub. Even though winning two games in a row makes us feel pretty good about ourselves, we know there's no easy touches there.

Q. Is it wishful thinking that the stadium and crowd here can be a factor in the outcome; it's been many years since there's been a deciding game here?

JOE TORRE: We're all under pressure. We are all used to dealing with the pressure. I don't care how used to it you are; it's still pretty exposing. I still think, early in the game, get a lead, that type of stuff will play more into it, than the fans, even though we love the noise out here and what they have done for us over the years.

Q. Is there a characteristic that Zito and Mulder and Hudson have in common; do you remember a trio being as good at this age?

JOE TORRE: I don't remember a trio at this age being this good and this calm and this effective. Hudson and Mulder come into this first two games like seasoned veterans. They had a great presence out there. They made their pitches, and they grinded it. I was very impressed. I knew I would be because -- you could see how frustrated they were early in the year when we played them. They were beaten three times and they were having a tough time, it looked like, emotionally on the field with that. But now they are playing and pitching the way they feel they can, and I'm very impressed. This club is going to be around for a while. That's a young pitching staff, and I know -- if there's one thing I know and Rube Walker -- the late Rube Walker taught me this when I first started managing. We traded Tom Seaver, Matlack, I guess it was, Jerry Koosman -- you can't win this thing without pitching. For certain, pitching makes you legitimate, and it was a lesson well learned from Rube for me.

Q. Are there any circumstances under which Mussina would pitch, and is Rivera limited to two innings?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. We'll pitch guys as long as we can pitch him that are necessary. Mussina, I'm not going to say he's not available. Today is his throw day. We had Pettitte the other day in Musa's game where he didn't throw until the ninth inning. If it's the same situation, and we feel that he's the guy we want to bring in, even though that's not really his cup of tea, we'll do it. But again, the game will probably dictate that.

Q. Is there any advantage to facing Mulder twice in favorite days?

JOE TORRE: I think with all of the scouting that goes on anymore, you know exactly what he throws, and all of the video they throw up there you know what his ball does. And, of course, being in the batter's box makes a difference. Again it's just a matter of if he makes a mistake or not. We know what he features. And again, we have to be patient, but we still have to understand that, you know, we need to be aggressive, also.

Q. Could you talk about your thought process in putting Velarde in the lineup tonight?

JOE TORRE: He was in the game Saturday. He is an established hitter. He's a veteran. He's been through this before. He's used to playing in Yankee Stadium. The only difference from Saturday's lineup I moved him from eighth to second. He's probably more used to batting second, and he handles the bat real well. It's basically veteran stuff, and we have the same people we had in there. I just moved Soriano back to ninth, and if we decide to move runners and stuff, I think Randy is a little more equipped to put the ball in play.

End of FastScripts....

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