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October 10, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. If you believe that every team has a different personality, how would you categorize this Yankee team and how will you remember this Yankee team?

JOE TORRE: Well, that's tough to answer. Each team I've had has been a little bit different, from the 1998 team that realized what was expected of us after winning all of those games and then in 1999 having to follow it up. This year, we've had more distractions this year. I said probably the way we played the first series, probably as determined as any team I've been around. We've been counted out. You get the same old questions about turning it on and off, and I know it wears thin a little bit. But I felt comfortable with this team, once we clinched, even though we needed Boston to lose for us to do that. This club seems to know what they need to do, and in spite of not having the record that we would have liked to have going in to the post-season, the fact that it was the post-season, if there's an advantage to having the experience, that's really been the main thing that has worked for us so far.

Q. Glenallen Hill has had some good numbers against Seattle this year. How do you envision using him in this series?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's had a lot of experience pinch-hitting and that's basically what we'll use Glenallen as. Right now, Knoblauch will be my DH, because I think that's more of the type of club that I'm used to having. The fact that we put the ball in play and we do some things. Of course he's a little unusual for our DH because of, you know, what we've had in the past, we've had Strawberry from time to time, we've had Chili Davis. But this ballclub, I think we've pretty much had to fight and scratch all year long, and that fits with the way we need to play. We need for him to get on. We were spoiled for the last couple of years because of the on-base percentage of Knobby and Jeter, and missing him this year, I think it showed up in our lack of being consistent.

Q. Is there any way to describe what Mariano brings to this team?

JOE TORRE: I don't like to use the word machine, because it is so impersonal, but I know there were a lot of questions in the middle of this year when he had a couple of hiccups and gave up some saves, and getting hit here and there. But, right, this time of year, I go back to 1997, his first year as our closer in Game 4 against Cleveland when he gave up the home run with two out to Sandy Alomar and you have a choice of going one way or the other from there. And to me he became more determined, even though it was a long plane ride the next day home, when he came to Spring Training, I know Mel and I discussed it with him, and he has a great deal of confidence. He doesn't show a whole lot of emotion. But when he takes the ball, you feel very good about your chances. There's no question. But he has been so focused in what his job is. Whether I call on him in the eighth inning or ninth inning or the other day, get five outs for me, he knows how to warm up. He knows how to prepare. And just the fact that, what he's done for us the last few years in post-season, I think that is big for us, and for him, too.

Q. Can you talk about your thinking in taking Jose off the roster?

JOE TORRE: Well, it wasn't easy to do. Jose, unfortunately, is a regular player, and he's probably not as used to coming off the bench as Glenallen Hill is. We talked about it the other day. He feels that he could help the club, and you know, I agree with him. But here, it was tough to try to get him in there consistently because of all of the people we had used in the designated hitter role. In putting Grimsley on -- I think we have a healthy Grimsley, something he is going to have to have tended to at the end of the season is his elbow, but I just wanted -- especially taking Neagle out of the bullpen, to have that extra arm. And my other two right-handers, not counting my set-up man and my closer, are basically starters. And I thought it was important, especially in the American League and you have the designated hitter, and you don't need as many pinch-hitters.

Q. Was there some risk or a gamble in using Rivera in the eighth inning and using the bullpen the way you did at that point?

JOE TORRE: The risk of going home scared the hell out of me. When I had used Rivera in the eighth inning the time before, my reasoning there was the fact that he was going to pitch to the middle of the lineup. The other day, it was the bottom part of the batting order and that's why I wanted to use El Duque. I was between El Duque going in there and leaving Nelson in there and Grieve was the first hitter and I didn't want to leave Nelson because he didn't pitch to left handers that often and with a two-run lead, if he allowed one man to get on base, I didn't want to bring in El Duque at that point, because he is a starter and I felt if he started the inning, he would be a lot more comfortable. And once he struck out Grieve, I felt good about that decision. But once the tying run came to the plate, it was Mariano's game. And I had to make a decision on El Duque, we had to warm him up, you're either going to use him or put him in your pocket, so I just decided to use him.

Q. After setting up your pitching in the last couple of years, you've had a break, clinching earlier in the rounds; do you think that coming off of Game 5, there is momentum that carries here?

JOE TORRE: The momentum was relief. The worst thing we thought could happen was to get on that plane Saturday night and we had to do that to go to San Francisco. When I say San Francisco, that's the airport we flew into. I know when we were playing you really don't think about Tuesday's pitcher, because the only guy that comes out not scarred up out of Sunday's game is going to be the starter, and I had a choice of Cone or Neagle. But you have to do what you have to do. And I think this sort of kept me from being tempted to pitch guys on three days' rest, especially on a seven-game series and I didn't want to do that back-to-back times.

Q. Do you sense more of a subway series a little more this year than last year?

JOE TORRE: I think last year when it was apparent that it may happen, especially with the Mets bouncing back in the Championship Series and taking it right to the end in Game 6, I wouldn't have wanted to be the Braves in Game 7 after losing three straight, even though you were playing at home. I think after last year, people were sort of assuming it was going to happen sooner or later, which this is tough to get to and we have two tough clubs to get through. But there's no question when you go around to a restaurant or to pick up your dry cleaning, that's the talk. Not even considering this a challenge. They say the subway series, the subway series. And it would be great for the City, no question. It would be exhausting. But I think the City would really be excited. I mean, I was growing up during the '50s, and this was happening all the time, the '40s and '50s. It was exciting then, but I don't think it's going to be close to what it would be if it happened again.

Q. Has it been an uncomfortable situation with you and Canseco, really from the time he got here?

JOE TORRE: I thought it would be. Not knowing Jose other than when I was a broadcaster, interviewing him and saying hello to him from time to time, we had his brother in St. Louis, so we sort of had a little connection there. But not at all. He has been truly a professional. In fact, I didn't get a chance to tell him until this afternoon, I had a wrong cell number for him this morning and I didn't want him to find out any other way; and I was the first one to tell him. The only uncomfortable part was he was used to playing and I couldn't make that promise to him when he came over here, but he has not been a problem in any way. He has been as quiet as can be. He does all of his work. He does what he needs to do and he's worked very hard at trying to get his arm in shape because he didn't do a whole lot of playing other than DH. He's been great and our relationship is fine. It is one of respect. I respect him a great deal, and he has shown me that respect, too.

Q. You had the big six-run inning on Sunday night and not much after that. Is that enough to convince you that you've begun to hit, and does Paul O'Neill remain in the lineup because you're convinced that he will start to hit?

JOE TORRE: I think what that showed me the other day is if we get our top guys on base, it makes it tougher to pitch through the middle of the lineup. Just like trying to get A-Rod and Martinez out is a lot easier if there is nobody on base. Then you can be a little more selective. I expect these people to hit because they have done it for years. Whether they hit tonight or not, we'll find out and we'll meet here later on. But my assumption when I write the lineup and Paul O'Neill included in that lineup, batting third, is that he's done it for me, and for that reason alone, he stays there and hopefully it all comes together. But I believe in these guys because they have done it over a number of years. If they are in a slump and it continues, I can't say I made the wrong decision because that's the commitment I made, because that's what you do when you put the lineup together for the season.

Q. Are you worried about Neagle's confidence tonight after not having used him in the Division Series?

JOE TORRE: I think Denny knows. When I approached him about being in the bullpen for the Division Series, he understood. He said, "It happened to me with Atlanta." When you're a part of a team and the manager has to make decisions, they are never easy ones. But he's ready. He'll be ready out there. If he has a lack of confidence, it's only because he has not pitched in a while and the few starts that he had before that were very inconsistent and I think that's the problem. And to have a sinkerballer, not pitching for a couple of weeks is only a concern because if he tends to try to overthrow the ball; you've taken the sinkerball away. So I think the start of the game will be a big indicator on how he is going to do tonight.

Q. What kind of role do you perceive for David Cone this series, and how much does it hurt for you to see him not be able to do what he's done in previous post-seasons for you?

JOE TORRE: Well, it was hurting me all year, watching David coping with, first of all, being ineffective, and then when he dislocated his shoulder, it was horrible to watch, because it looked like he had just finally found a little bit of a niche where he pitched effectively for about three or four starts. What his role is; he's on our staff, and that will probably present itself to me somewhere down the road. When I'm talking about down the road, during the course of this Championship Series, there will be a spot that his name will be the first one to enter my mind and if you get into one of those extra-inning games, I envision that. There may be a time where a right-handed hitter will come up and his experience may be the guy you think of -- may be the thing you think of in trying to get a certain hitter out because I figure his stuff can do that. But he has been good. We talk constantly. He was understanding when he had to go to the bullpen. But sure, when I picked David Cone to pitch Game 1 of this or Game 3 of that, it was a trust factor, and right now, just having him on our staff is great that we are able to do that. It is unfortunate that he has not had the year that he had hoped he would have or that we could have hoped for.

End of FastScripts....

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