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October 11, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. With your lineup struggling, have you given any thought of playing Knoblauch and putting one of your other hitters at DH?

JOE TORRE: We had four hits last night, two of them by Sojo, two of them by Knoblauch, the first four. Does that answer your question?

Q. Can you talk about the bullpen last night? They have comeback the last couple of games from the struggles in September.

JOE TORRE: Well, Nelly and Stanton, even though they had their little slumps, they have been very consistent over the years, and if you look at Nelly's numbers, he jumped out there in the first half and did a great job and then he struggled for a time. But normally, when it gets to the seventh, eighth, ninth inning, I'm going to go to those guys, but post-season, I dip in there a little earlier and he did a terrific job. He did exactly what we needed him to do, keep us close, just in the event we were able to pop one. Unfortunately, we weren't, but at least we had the opportunity with him in there.

Q. Can you talk about the change in the batting order today, the thinking behind it?

JOE TORRE: Yeah. Paul O'Neill. He's struggling, trying to get him out of the spotlight a little bit. He feels good. I mean when I say he feels good, physically. Obviously, he is pressing right now, and I guess that is the downside of being a baseball player; you are human. I know before he left last night, he said, "Am I playing tomorrow?" And I said, "You're dominant, right?" I never hesitated because that's the way I felt. But I decided to take him out of the 3-hole and put Justice in there. Just a change for the sake of change and he has been struggling, and hopefully, down in the 7-hole, although last time I moved him down in the 6-hole, first time he hit in the game was with the bases loaded. So sometimes you can't get what you want to accomplish.

Q. How much of your decision-making is based on these guys that have won championships here, and feeling that you owe it to them to win another, or to lose it, lose it that way?

JOE TORRE: A great deal of it. 99% of it probably. They have gotten us to this point, three World Series, five straight playoff appearances. And I can't be swayed by the fact of somebody being in a slump, even if the slump lasts until next spring, you don't know that unless they are playing. If they are on the bench, you don't know if they are going to get a hit. My feeling is these are the ones that brought us to the dance and we are going to play the game.

Q. It is easy to second-guess now, but last night in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, is that a spot that you wish you had Canseco?

JOE TORRE: It's a consideration. Sojo has been very consistent. I didn't see that ball when he hit it down the right field line, but people tell me it wasn't too far from being a fair ball. I guess I could say yes. Any time you don't score, it's easy to look back and say, oh, well if you had this guy in a situation. But I had Glenallen Hill as the tying run against a left-handed pitcher and it didn't work. Because of the results, I guess you can always look back and say you wish that you had another hitter.

Q. Why is El Duque so good in the post-season? Is there an ingredient he has that most pitchers don't have?

JOE TORRE: I'd like to believe that. He likes the challenge. The first year that he was in post-season, which was 1998, we swept Texas in the first round, and he was the next pitcher on deck. I think he was assuming that he was starting the second round because it was his turn, and he winds up pitching in Game 4 -- yeah, it was Game 4 against Cleveland. I think at that point in time, he wanted to show where he belonged here, and he gave us a spectacular game. I think he shut them out. Sometimes a language barrier keeps you from getting to know somebody, but I think what he has done in a short period of time has made you very comfortable to pencil his name in in very important spots. Especially last year, we had Clemens and Cone on this ballclub, and he starts all three of the post-season series.

Q. You've watched a zillion post-seasons over the years. Is there any pattern to whether power pitchers or speed-changing pitchers tend to do better under that pressure, and El Duque, being able to change speeds, is he able to take advantage of that October tension?

JOE TORRE: Warren Spawn said a long time ago that hitting is timing, the pitcher's job is to upset that timing. There is no question that when you do change speeds, it makes it a lot tougher to hit. You'll see hitters up there and they will take a pitch and they are sort of trying to gear and figure out what speed this pitch is coming in and all of a sudden it is something less than that. It is different nowadays -- I don't know about post-season. I don't relate other than the last five years. But pitchers as a whole now are very -- there are more offspeed pitchers than there are power pitchers. There were years ago, and I remember Bob Gibson when he was my pitching coach, when you get behind 2-0, just rear back and go 3-1, it was a fastball -- now 3-1 is a changeup. When you look at a press guide and see a youngster with a lot of strikeouts in the Minor Leagues, it's not because he throws hard, it's because he has an offspeed pitch. I don't know if it started in college, because of the aluminum bat, or whatever it is, but that's where we are right now.

Q. What are your thoughts on the response of the post-season having instant replay available to the umpires?

JOE TORRE: I think that's tough. Umpires have been part of this game forever, and I think it is different than other sports. These guys are standing out there at first, at third, behind the plate. My personal feeling is that if a replay showed that they were wrong, they would take a lot of abuse down there. They can't go run down the field and get away from it. I don't think it's the right thing for replay. You know, fair or foul; that's a possibility, in my mind. But as far as anything else, it would really be tough to slow this game down any more than it has been. I mean, last night -- I never thought I'd reach the point where I'd say, "God, we played a three-hour game, wasn't that great." But that's what it is getting to.

Q. Last night, a tough loss, but your players left the locker room awfully quick, is that an indication that maybe they are feeling some pressure that they haven't felt in previous post-seasons?

JOE TORRE: I don't know that. I found that out today. I didn't know it last night. And we're going to talk about it. I don't know what that means. It may mean more frustration than anything else. There's always pressure. I think there's no getting away from it. The post-season is all about pressure. Playing in New York is all about pressure. I think sometimes frustration makes you do that. It is not the right thing to do obviously, and you asked me this question, I found out about an hour ago about that. We'll correct it. Let's put it that way.

Q. Have you spoken with Lou Piniella at all? You and Bobby and Tony, the four of you left, is there any personal competition?

JOE TORRE: Nobody is going to get overly distracted or caught up in the whole aura of post-season. Everybody is a seasoned veteran in this regard. Lou is a lot of fun for me. He is so animated. I've known Lou for a long, long time, and I enjoyed him as a player, because you always pretty much knew what was going on in his mind just by his reaction, whether it was striking out as a player or making that great catch in right field against the Red Sox. Again general manager, manager, he shoots from the hip. He reminds me a lot of Zimmer, in that colorful mode that he takes a lot of chances and he knows his baseball. I have a lot of respect for all of the guys, but Lou is a lot of fun for me.

Q. You talked about the length of games. Is there anyway that you can see to speed up post-season games without affecting the play?

JOE TORRE: I guess cutting down on commercials, but I don't know how two and a half minutes between innings is another 40-something minutes TV time. We're deep in count all the time. Very rarely do you see strike one, strike two, strike three. It's always: I don't want this guy to hit the ball. And I accuse my pitchers of doing it and I watch other pitchers do it. You know what I think it is? I think that we have too much information, and when we try to put this game in a test tube, I don't think it holds up very well. Instead of going out there and saying, you know, me against you, let's see who is better, we're trying to find ways to be perfect, and you can't do that in this game.

End of FastScripts…

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