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October 25, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe.

Q. You've always shown a tremendous loyalty to and belief in your players over the years. Do you think there's ever been a time when that might have gotten in the way?

JOE TORRE: No. Even though I have loyalty to people, you really have to be loyal to the 25 players as opposed to just one. So even though I may show a lot of confidence or loyalty, whatever you want to call it, to certain players, in doing that, I think it's in the best interest of the team. But I've never let my feeling towards someone affect judgment. And, again, it may not work, but it's not because I thought it would -- let's put it this way, it has to be best for the team for me to do it.

Q. With everything you've gone through this year with the struggles of the team, Mel's illness, then most recently the Clemens' incident, have you enjoyed this year as much as the previous four?

JOE TORRE: No. It's always work. We do have our fun. Winning is a lot of fun. I remember having a meeting a couple years ago and telling the guys: "You're not enjoying yourselves." O'Neill said to me afterwards, "Skip, it's not fun unless you win." That's true. Winning helps make it a lot of fun. There's a lot of stuff going on. In the post-season you'd like to be able to celebrate the post-season. It's been a grind. Again, the game is fun. The game is still fun -- the chess game you play, and making decisions. But getting to post-season, I think, is very satisfying. That's basically why you put on the uniform. I've done it for 30 years, and it certainly has been, overall, a great deal of satisfaction for me.

Q. What do you know about Darryl's latest arrest; and is it harder, do you think, for him to stay clean without the structure of travelling with the team?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I was told about an hour and a half ago what had happened. I'm saddened by it. I know everybody -- well, not everybody -- but people who know Darryl feel for him. He's going through a tough time. I've never had a habit that consumed me, so I really -- it's tough to make a judgment on somebody. But knowing what he has had to go through cancer-wise and treatment-wise -- not that you will stick up for what he's doing or what he has done -- but maybe half of you says that because of what he's going through, maybe that's part of the reason he's doing it. Again, that doesn't make it right. But I think understanding that he's going through a very tough time, he's doing it to himself basically. That's the sad part.

Q. What kind of feeling do you have now looking at people who you may not see again? David Cone, especially, who's been so much of your loyalty over the years. And now for loyalty of the team, you have to bypass him. What do you feel about that?

JOE TORRE: Well, you picked the right guy, because Cone has made my job probably easier than maybe someone else in his shoes. When I say that, he knows that my decisions are not easy decisions to make when it involves not pitching him, but he pretty much keeps that to himself because he understands that I'm doing what I think is the right thing to do for the team. It's tough for me. As I say, he's made it easier than maybe it could be. But it's still not easy to look on David Cone's leadership and what he's meant to this ballclub, whether he's been in uniform or not in uniform. And the thing I find that is toughest for me is -- although it's been better lately during the World Series because he is in the mix here, I wouldn't hesitate to bring him out of the bullpen in a situation. I think that makes him feel better than it did during the first or the Seattle series when he was pretty much relegated to the bullpen without knowing what I was going to get. So we didn't dip in to get him. When you think about the guys you've been with for five years, O'Neill and Tino and Cone, yeah, if you don't see them again after this year in uniform, it's going to be sad. But the fun part is to think of what it was like for those five years. And celebrating that, probably, would take precedent over anything.

Q. What do you feel Bernie needs to do to get himself going? And what approach do you take in terms of advice or council to a veteran player of his caliber when he's going through some struggles?

JOE TORRE: Bernie, when he struggles normally, it's feeling for the ball. I think last night he was probably pumped up a little bit too high. And we chatted a little bit today, just about turning it down a notch or two. I think he's trying to hit it in the parking lot instead of over the fence. It's easy to do. You're human. That's where the human stuff takes over. I thought he had good swings last night, but they were a touch too hard, and he fouled a lot of balls off that he probably could have hit hard. Not that they would have been hits, I think he would have made contact. So I just think he's pumped up because he hasn't got a hit. He wants to help this team. He's come up in key situations, which he will, because he's hitting fourth. But the only thing I did with him is just have a two- or three- or four- or five-minute conversation with him, and we just sat and talked a little bit. And basically, just keep it down a little bit. Just turn the volume down just a notch.

Q. How much do you think you missed Knoblauch's bat in these games here at Shea, and what are you doing to compensate for him?

JOE TORRE: We miss Knoblauch. He is an offensive player, a good leadoff man. He gets on base; he gives us a weapon off the bench. Like last night, we started something in the ninth inning we couldn't finish, but at least we got the tying run to the plate. Again, I made that decision in not wanting him to play second, because I didn't think it was fair to him because I haven't had him out there. We miss him. Again, that's a disadvantage for us, because we're used to the designated hitter. And you can do a lot more things in an American League park than we can do here. But, again, I don't want one game to change my mind on what took some time to make that decision. So we do miss him. As I said earlier, he wants to play, but he understands why I made the decision.

Q. Could you talk about the pitching matchup tonight between Neagle and Jones and what they have to do to be successful? What kind of pitchers they are?

JOE TORRE: Well, they both change speeds. Neagle, to me, he throws strikes. He has a habit of getting people out because he has good movement. Bobby Jones, off that last outing against San Francisco, he has some good stuff in his memory bank, obviously. They're finesse-type guys. They're not the power people. But, again, those type of people, if they're throwing strikes, are going to give the opposition a lot of trouble. For me, Neagle needs to have the ball stay down. And I'm sure Bobby's the same way -- down in the zone. And, again he has a tendency sometimes to change his arm angle when he gets in trouble, and that would cause the ball to do more on the same plane than it would sink. So we need to have him up here where his ball will have a little more action on it. And, again, last night, I thought Rick Reed did a great job of getting ahead of our hitters. To me, that's the secret of pitching - is to keep the hitters on their heels a little bit by getting ahead in the count. I think that would help both sides today.

Q. When you go through a game like that, that could be such a momentum turner. Do you feel the need to say anything special to your players before this one tonight, or do you let them keep it to them?

JOE TORRE: The one advantage -- and nothing against you ladies and gentlemen -- you walk through the clubhouse, you pretty much say anything you want because there's nobody else around. But you walk through the locker room, and everybody seemed fine. You usually get a sense of if there's some tension. This club, it's very tough to read, because even when we're tense, we've played well in the past. But I sensed we -- we're fine. We're fine. I thought we were fine last night. We lost the game. It doesn't mean that you're not ready to play because you lose a game. I was very pleased with our performance last night, and we were just bested by the Mets. But I sense we have the same confidence tonight.

Q. Kind of a two-part question. When you met with David Cone a couple days ago, did he kind of steer you in the direction to say that it was perfectly fine with him to start Denny? And also, I believe you said that the game belongs to both of them. What did you mean by that?

JOE TORRE: Well, my thought process as a manager is that this fourth game, I'm not sure who was going to start, but I'm planning on having you both in the mix, that if somebody gets in trouble early, the other person's going to come in to pick him up. And the thing's on both sides. I made this clear to both of them. Obviously, David Cone in a game like this, in this stadium, may be more used to it. He's done it before. Again, David Cone dislocated his shoulder. We didn't even know if he was going to be part of this thing. He made a remarkable comeback, but has had some crankiness in that shoulder when he's pitched for a period of time during the course of a game. I was trying to make up my mind who I thought would be best-suited physically to come out of the bullpen. Then Cone sort of helped me get off the fence, because he came up to me and said, "If it helps you make up your mind, I have no trouble getting loose, and I could probably pitch two days in a row out of the bullpen." That did help me in determining Neagle. I just felt Neagle, because our left-handers have done a good job so far against the Mets, and he has pitched more than Cone has. So I sensed that he could probably give us more early inning-wise.

Q. Have you found yourself in a position of just having to remind the players to have fun, especially in light of Game 2? And also reminding yourself, has it been as much fun as you've wanted? Have you had to inject that more into the Series?

JOE TORRE: You do remind the players that it's all about celebration here. They're fine right now. I have a good feel. I thought yesterday, when I went around, and even during the workout day, talked to several players about what we need. Do we need to talk about things, or whatever. The players who I normally go to, to check the temperature of the team didn't feel there was anything that needed to be said. Everybody seemed to be aware of what's going on. Yeah, it hasn't been as much fun as you'd like it to be. But last night I had the best night's sleep I've had in about two and a half, three weeks. So I feel very relaxed today. I had a nice lunch with my wife. I'm looking forward to the game.

Q. You've only been very comfortable with Jeter batting in the two hole. Could you talk about your decision tonight, why it's the best way to go?

JOE TORRE: Well, because with Luis in the line-up, that's sort of why I went to Vizcaino last night, was because he's more of a leadoff type than Luis is. Luis's been a good number-two guy because he does make contact. We won some games with Jeter in the number-one hole. He's just batted second more than any other position. But if I recollect correctly, in the five years I've been here and he's been here, he's batted everywhere from first to ninth. It doesn't matter to him. I mean, when I say he's comfortable, that's just from my perspective. If you ask him, it doesn't matter where he hits. So hopefully the top of the line-up he can get things going. He's a great base runner. I'd like to see him score a run in the first inning.

End of FastScripts....

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