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October 9, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. Did you consider at all giving the ball to David Cone tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: I considered a lot of things. I considered El Duque on three days' rest and an abbreviated relief appearance. I just decided Neagle, since we got him he was one of our starters, and David is not 100%. That's a big part of that. No question if it was just a matter of sending somebody's heart out there, you would, but the physical aspect of it, I think Denny Neagle is best equipped right now.

Q. You were on an emotional high last night as high as any of us have ever seen you. Why did this one affect you so much?

JOE TORRE: It was probably that last trip coast to coast. Not a lot of sleep. I think because of what this club went through all year, a lot of changes, a lot of distractions, just a lot of things that went on here. You know, so many questions about our ballclub turning things on and off, like when we lost 13 out of 16 like wanted to do that. Like we were taking everybody for granted. And I was just very proud of the way they fought back the fatigue. Of course, the other ballclub, Oakland, was equally as tired. And to put a game out there like they did last night, it was just -- the five-game series packs a lot of emotion for me, because it is so tough.

Q. Can you recall a relationship at all like Derek and Alex and how good is that for them and for baseball?

JOE TORRE: I think we allow it now. Years ago you were not allowed to have that kind of open relationship with somebody from another ballclub because it was more or less a war. Now I think it is more respect. And we're putting on a show for people. And these two kids are really worth paying your money to watch play. And you're right, they sort of mirror each other the way they behave. They are a little different player-wise, but as far as the way they carry themselves, and how hard they play, they are very, very much alike. But I think it is going to make for an exciting series because these two guys are obviously going to be the spotlight people, although we're going to keep a close look on Edgar, too.

Q. What did you see in Neagle late in the season that might explain why he struggled, and why do you have confidence that he can get it done in Game 1?

JOE TORRE: I think any time Denny has a problem, the only thing that I'm a little cautious about tomorrow evening is the fact that -- sinkerball pitchers when they are a little strong tend to not have sinkerballs. But Denny, the only thing that he needs to do is just stay in a rhythm, stay and not try to rush and not try to overthrow, and make sure his arm angle is right where it will allow the ball to sink. When he has a problem he tends, to jump out there and all of the sudden his arm drops and his sinker is not a sinker anymore. I think he needs to breathe a little bit and get himself in a little bit of a rhythm where he will allow the ball to sink, as opposed to trying to help it do that.

Q. Will it be pretty much the same lineup tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: I don't know yet. I know Knoblauch, he'll be DH and leadoff. As far as the other guys, I have not really put it down yet.

Q. Has this team changed you as a manager?

JOE TORRE: Are you talking about the 2000 team or the Yankees? It's sort of -- when I took over in 1996, and you mentioned players' manager, I was fired a couple times because I was a players' manager. That was okay for Davey Johnson, and I'm not taking anything away from him because we're similar in that regard, but just the idea if you win it's good, and if you lose it is not so good. But when I took over in 1996, preparing for your first meeting is important, because you want to make an impression and you want to make sense and all of that kind of stuff, and you want to be believable. And I have always been a manager that has allowed players to be themselves, and just want to win and as long as you go by a set of guidelines, you pretty much allow them to be their own personality. But it never worked for me. Maybe I wasn't in the right place. Maybe I didn't have the right players. Maybe players really were not what these players are. I know I'm going a long way here, but I'm trying to explain it. I picked up a book by Bill Parcells and I got about halfway through it one of his coaching manuals or books, and it said if you believe in something, stay with it, and that sort of struck me. And I decided to give it one more shot, and here I am, I want to win. You're going to have to be responsible for yourselves, blah, blah, blah, and I wanted to create a trust which I think was important. It's very tough to commit unless you trust, and I felt that the trust factor was very important, and from day one, I wanted the players to know that I was there to win, and not to look good, not to make excuses, and that we were going it do it together as a team. We'll win as a team, we'll lose as a team, and I was going if I was going to criticize them they were going to hear it from me not read in the paper first. Not to say they would not read it in the paper, but only after I had already told them. And I have held to that philosophy. I think I just happened to hit on the right situation. This ballclub had won before I had gotten here, so I think when you start talking in Spring Training, they know what they wanted. They knew what winning was like and they wanted to go a little bit further.

Q. Would you talk about the rotation after Neagle?

JOE TORRE: It is going to be Neagle, El Duque will pitch on Wednesday. Andy Pettitte on Friday and Roger Clemens on Saturday.

Q. What do you remember from the 1995 Mariners Yankees series?

JOE TORRE: I got to see that one because that was the old baseball network and you could only see so many games. I was living in Cincinnati at the time and I remember watching Edgar's double down the left field line and Griffey scoring and knowing in the past -- because I had broadcast for the Angels for a number of years, and you are always aware how much trouble the Yankees had with the Mariners, it didn't matter how good they were or how bad the Mariners were. It was a thorn in their side. I think that memory is pretty apparent for all Yankee fans, as well as the Mariners fans from that 1995 game. Not in my wildest dream did I imagine that I was going to be the manager of that team in the following spring.

Q. Any changes in the roster?

JOE TORRE: I think we have until ten o'clock in the morning or noon to make that decision. I just want to be comfortable if we do make that decision that Jason Grimsley is healthy.

Q. For those of us who were not in Oakland, can you address the Knoblauch thing, going back to Saturday, when he did not take balls?

JOE TORRE: First of all -- I told him that I was making the change, just wanted to do something different. And I really wasn't comfortable, as I didn't think he was, playing in the field, because we were not scoring a lot of runs. I was trying to put a home-run hitter in the lineup and put my defensive people in the field. He was down. He said, "okay." He didn't make any ruckus or anything like that. I knew that he felt badly about it, because let's admit it, he's been our starter for the last three years. And then when we were over there, actually, it was here, yeah. It was here. He didn't take any ground balls, and it was called to my attention, because I don't really pay attention to all that, especially now. I'm not on the field that much, and if I'm out there, I'm watching batting practice. And we had to talk about it. I told him I didn't think it was the right thing to do. I understood how he felt. But it has nothing to do with how you have to go about your business. And, you know, we had an understanding and I just wanted to clear the air, because first off, the most important time of year for all of the players concerned is right now and to win ballgames. I want to make sure all of our minds are going in the same direction, and to me, Knobby was a little bit caught up in how this whole thing affected him. I think being around somebody for a few years, not only myself, but the players, I think they understand why he behaved like that. Not that it was the right thing to do, but he's gone through an emotional year and I think we take that into consideration. But everything is fine now. He was a big part of what we did last night.

Q. You talked about how Jeter and A-Rod kind of mirror one another. Can you expand on that and can you make a case that Jeter is every bit as important to you as A-Rod is to Lou?

JOE TORRE: No question. You go around manager to manager, Jimy Williams with Nomar and just this kid we left in Oakland, Tejada. A-Rod, when you look at his ability, the ability to hit the home run, I think that's where he really shines. Jeter, I don't think there's any one particular thing that you can point to with him that sets him apart, but I think Jeter is the whole package. And the fact that he's played in this market and has done this with a great deal of ease. I mean, you look in this kid's face in the first playoff game he ever played in 1996, he made on error and we wind up losing the game. Going home that night -- actually after the game, the media asked if I thought that I needed to talk to him. And he peeked in the office and told me to get a good night's sleep because it was the most important game of the year tomorrow. The kid is unreal, really. So as I say, there is nothing that I can point to Jeter that stands out like, you know, Nomar's ability to lead the League in hitting or A-Rod's ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. But to me, we're not the same ballclub if Jeter is eliminated.

Q. New York is obviously getting excited about the possibility of a Subway Series. How big of a step is it to make that happen? Would you prefer to see that or would you prefer to see St. Louis because of your affection for that place?

JOE TORRE: I hate to be selfish in this regard. But if there's a choice of one of the two teams getting there, I hope it's us. I don't know, St. Louis and the Mets, I've managed and been fired from both places. (Laughter.) It will be exciting. There's no question if there was ever a Subway Series, you can see evidence of it when we played the Interleague stuff during the course of the year, if it was ever post-season and that existed, it would be unbelievable. It would be something that you would need a month's vacation after it was over with, because it's more than just going to the ballpark. Like this is going to the ballpark and doing what you do, and you can still go about your business when you leave the ballpark. But if it was a Mets/Yankees World Series, you'll be at the ballpark whether you leave or not. So it would be exciting for the City. It would be dynamite. I'm sure for both Bobby Valentine and myself, it would be distracting and tiring, but once the game starts -- that would probably be the most relaxing time is when you get in your individual dugouts and do your job. Obviously we have to get through two tough teams to do that.

Q. By starting Pettitte in Game 3 and Clemens in Game 4, you would have left-handers starting four out of seven, is that dangerous?

JOE TORRE: We have some choices. We go through the first four pitchers and then we'll decide what we do after that. Andy, it doesn't bother me. He won 19 games this year and he beat ballclubs that hit right-handed and left-handed. And you're talking about sinkerball guys, basically. It would probably be a little different if you had more power-type pitchers than both Andy and Denny, who are more or less move-guys-down, keep-the-ball-down. When you have guys who can hit the ball out of the park, like Edgar and A-Rod, you want to make sure that you have someone who can keep it in the park. So hopefully we'll be able to accomplish that.

Q. It has been written that you don't have faith in anybody in the bullpen other than Mariano Rivera. Can you comment on the accuracy of that and how do you feel about your bullpen in general?

JOE TORRE: Well, then it's proven that, you know, just because it is written doesn't mean it's true. If you happen to see your name in the obituary column, I wouldn't lay down if I were you. (Laughter.) Last night, we bring Stanton in in the fourth inning -- obviously, it was interesting. We had Stanton and Nelson both who took a lot of criticism. I think Nelly I was trying to live up to himself and everybody was trying to compare what he was doing sometime in August compared to what he did in the first half of the year when he had All-Star numbers. I didn't pick him, but he did have All-Star numbers. And Stanton, with all of the problems and it seemed like he had more problems than he did last year and all of the sudden my general manager came down and gave me stats, this year and last year, and identical number of games, identical, just about identical number of hits-to-innings pitched, and the earned run average was within a point of each other. I think when your bullpen fails and you're struggling, I think it's more magnified. But to me, I would go to Nelson and Stanton any time. Obviously, if I get to the eighth inning in a situation like we've had here recently, you know, Mariano, who has not been used a great deal, I will go to him. Last night, I didn't want to pitch Mo two innings unless I had to. The other day I brought him in for the eighth and ninth innings, and I mentioned -- the fact that the eighth inning, the middle of the order was coming up, and to me that was more of a save opportunity than the ninth inning. And last night I brought in El Duque, and I knew once I had warmed him up if I did not use him, I didn't have him anymore; and the fact that he was a starter, I didn't worry about lefty/righty matchups. But once the tying run got to the plate, I went to Mariano and chickened out. But at least he got five outs instead of six. I was hoping for a little more than that.

Q. Did Clemens need the extra day? Is that why you flip-flopped the order?

JOE TORRE: I wanted to give it to him, whether he needed it or not. Roger is a power pitcher. I think it's a little bit different what he does than what Andy does. He goes out there and works out. He works out between starts. He's older. He's older. So I chose to go with Andy, basically, because he's more of a sinker guy, and then, you know, Roger following him. And it's basically because Rogers the power guy, and I just wanted to give him a little extra rest to make sure that he's at the top of his game. To me, I know that he said that he was okay, but he took that ball off the leg against Detroit, and whether it got him into a habit of jumping or whatever it was, because that was his push-off leg, you know, he has not had the command the last couple of times out that he had prior to that.

Q. From what you've seen and heard, what do you know about Sasaki and how effective he can be?

JOE TORRE: He pitched against us several times. He's got a terrific splitter. He can throw the fastball by you if you decide to sit and look for it. Right now, that whole ballclub, they are riding with a ton of confidence. You know, we'll see what happens. It's going to be a good series. I have a great deal, obviously of respect for Lou. He has been down this road before and won the World Series with Cincinnati. He's a tough competitor and he knows what New York is all about, so he's not going to be overly distracted by what goes on here.

Q. Griffey was the man for this team for so long and without him they still won. Why were they able to get past losing Griffey?

JOE TORRE: I think so much is made of a player like Junior, but you realize what's made this ballclub better is the fact that their pitching is better. If Griffey was there, I think it would probably make them that much better than they are now, with that same pitching, but they have a closer. Lou has always struggled with that middle relief. Every time he dipped in there, he didn't know what to expect. Now he has Rhodes; Tomko has done a nice job. I think he has a lot more depth than he has ever had in the bullpen, and you need that over a 162-game schedule. And this kid is not a kid, but Abbott has done a great job for him. Guy has been around a long time. And Garcia, Halama -- it's unfortunate with Jamie Moyer, what happened with him the other day; you never want to have somebody miss post-season play because of an accident. But Lou has more pitching now than he's had in a long time.

Q. You said in the last series that you had a lot of confidence in Neagle, but you were not sure he was comfortable with himself. Has that changed?

JOE TORRE: No. The only thing I say is if Denny doesn't have confidence in himself, then I'm a little uncertain. And we've talked about it since then. He has not been consistent. And I had choices, if I wanted to pitch El Duque with three days' rest, which I didn't really want to do, not now in a seven-game series, I don't want to do that. And Denny was the name that jumped out at me. David Cone, with the dislocated shoulder, and the discomfort he's had, I'm sure David can give us an inning or two, but I would not want him to go out there as a starter at this point in time. To me, I think Denny is the guy who is physically ready and I believe he'll be mentally ready. I think it is a situation that he's been waiting for. I know he's been chomping up and down, walking up and down in front of me in that dugout in Oakland waiting for me to tell him to pick up a ball and warm up. We were hoping that he could start today, which meant that we did not have to use him last night.

Q. Can you talk about what kind of roll Mariano Rivera has been on?

JOE TORRE: There were some questions about him during the course of the season, and then probably because he set the bar so high for himself; that even he had trouble living up to it, time and time again. But this time of year, and again, I go back to 1997 when he gave up that home run to Sandy Alomar, you have two ways to go at that point in time: Either you don't think you can do the job as a closer, or you're just going to take it the way Eckersley took the home run by Kirk Gibson and just move on. Mariano has been dominant, there's no question, and the confidence he has in the post-season games is felt by everybody around him.

End of FastScripts....

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