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October 13, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. Did you watch any of the Mets game last night, and can you allow yourself, even in the middle of a series for you, on an off night to enjoy post-season baseball and the whole possibility of a Subway Series?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's nice to have an off-day, and when I was in my hotel room, I did watch it, but I went out to dinner for the bulk of the game, and they had it on at the restaurant that we ate in, and we were definitely interested. As far as a Subway Series, there is no Subway Series unless we get in it. That's our priority right now, for sure. And I'll allow this; that if it ever happened, it would be wild. It would be absolutely crazy in New York. I was growing up in New York in the '40s and '50s when the Dodgers and Giants played all the time, and they played 22 times a year, and that was wild. Of course, the Yankees were always a part of the World Series. And for the most part, it was the Dodgers and sometimes the Giants; and that was crazy. But I don't think it's going to be close -- or any year that if there were to be a Subway Series now, it would far and away be wilder than that.

Q. Is it a burden to always be hearing about that, the possibility of a Subway Series?

JOE TORRE: It's one of those distractions where, if you allow it to be, it can be. But no, it's understandable why people want to talk about it. And you have talk radio, which takes phone calls from fans, and this is what fans want to talk about and want to dream about. Last year, it was very close to happening last year. We had won our Championship Series, and the Mets came back valiantly from down three games to almost going into Game 7. So it came very close last year, and here we are flirting with it again. So, it is normal that that would be the talk, especially in New York. I personally don't think, aside from pockets of people who are transplanted New Yorkers, I personally think around the country and other cities they would yawn about it.

Q. Could you talk about, from your own experience, the difference between pitchers starting on three days' rest and four days' rest?

JOE TORRE: Well, it is dependent on how often they do it. To me, I know not necessarily everybody agrees with me, the Chicago Cubs, and everybody, I guess, had a four-man rotation years ago, and it was always three days' rest. The Cubs playing all of those day games, I thought September it always caught up with them. Maybe a combination of pitching three days and playing day games. I think day games more so. It is really what you condition yourself to. But like an Andy Pettitte, or an El Duque, maybe Roger; I think Roger can do it if he's totally healthy, again, but not -- I'm not sure how many times you can do it back-to-back. The problem is when you look back at the way we condition pitchers anymore, in the Minor Leagues, we really don't allow kids to throw more than 80, 90, 100 pitches. And if that continues, which there's no reason why it shouldn't, I don't think we're getting the arms strong enough to have these guys be able to throw that many pitches regularly. But again, when you get to post-season play, adrenaline drives you. And I guess if you look back and see how many pitches you threw or how many innings you pitch during the course of the year that could affect you adversely. But I think if you do it once in awhile, you can get away with it.

Q. Going back to last year when the possibility of trading Pettitte was there and something that you discussed, what was the gist of what you told George as far as explaining to him why it was a bad idea?

JOE TORRE: It is tough to come up with a reason why you didn't want to trade him because of the numbers he was putting up -- or wasn't putting up. The only decision I felt should have been made was the fact that, you know, he's a young man, he's left-handed, and what he did in '96. I became a big fan of Andy Pettitte in 1996 because he did something in post-season play and in very pivotal games in the pennant stretch that I never had a chance to do. And I guess I put a lot of weight and a lot of stock in that type of performance, and I would never lose sight of that. And Mel Stottlemyre, if I was off base in thinking that way, Mel sort of put the punctuation mark on it for me, because he's very close with Andy; and again, he likes all of his pitchers, but Andy seems to be very close with him. But still, unless Andy felt he could pitch or felt good about his stuff, he couldn't have been as strong as he was against it. But as far as what I said to George, this is my opinion, and I don't think we should do it. I don't go into chapter and verse because Andy didn't give me a whole lot of ammunition, other than what he has done in the past.

Q. With Paul O'Neill, how much do you think that hip injury or the six-game stretch that he was off, do you think that threw off his timing at the plate?

JOE TORRE: You know, it is tough for me to tell. He played with that thing for a long time, and he is not bothered by it now. But I'm convinced he got into some bad habits hitting-wise, because he could seem to always break down in the front, get out in that front side trying to get the bat off quicker. And I sensed in the last game that he seems to be getting a better look at the ball. He seems to be waiting back better. I think that had a lot to do with it, plus the emotional stress of trying to hurry up and get your timing back during post-season play. There seems to be a certain sense of immediacy to doing that, and I think he put pressure on himself in that regard. To me, the last at-bat when he hit the sacrifice fly was big for me, especially against a left-hander, because I sensed that he kept his weight back a lot better.

Q. You said before that Pettitte's turnaround from his low point was basically he started challenging people more.

JOE TORRE: When you're in a slump, whether you're a hitter or a pitcher, I look up, and that hitter is 0-2 all the time. When a pitcher is in a slump, he's 2-0 all the time. I just felt that Andy didn't want them to hit the ball, but you still have to preach. I don't care if you throw it 98 miles an hour, 88 miles an hour, or 78 miles an hour, you still need to throw strikes and make them hit it. And I think Andy has changed his approach. And of course, the more success he had, the easier it was for him to have that approach. But I think a big part of it was trusting his stuff, thinking down, more so than being a power pitcher. When he was struggling, he was trying to do things that really were not conducive to his style. He was rearing back and trying to blow people away, and that's not him. I think he did change his approach where he was thinking down, more so than anything else.

Q. Fewer cutters?

JOE TORRE: I don't think he really cut back on any particular pitch. I think he threw more strikes, with sinkers -- his changeup is better. He changed himself a little bit over the winter where his delivery is quicker now, which has helped his offspeed stuff. But I'm not sure if he has cut back on one pitch as opposed to another.

Q. Everybody remarks on your apparent calm in the dugout. How much of that is real? And if it is not real, how did you acquire that facade?

JOE TORRE: I think when I played, I never really wanted to give the opposition, I guess, the pleasure of seeing me aggravated when they get me out. So I've always been that way to some degree, and I'm not sure that was smart, because I kept a lot of stuff inside. I'd go in the dugout, I'd grab a hook on the wall, and I'd pull it off, break it, where I was letting some smoke out there. And right now, you know, when you're -- I'm not calm. I feel it inside, but I'm not working very hard at not showing it, because that's just the way I've been. Zimmer sitting next to me has helped a great deal over these last five years, because when situations come up, even before they come up, we talk about it a lot. So when you make a decision, there's a lot of thought that goes into what you do. And you pretty much leave it to what the result is going to be. I have an easier time dealing when, if something doesn't work, it doesn't mean it was the wrong decision, and I've been able to do that. And again, another big thing for me, I've seen managers and I've played for managers that if you strikeout or make an error, they are very animated, having played the game and having struck out, and having made errors, and having hit into four double-plays in one game, you try to do well. And if you don't do well, to me, I always want to have that support for the player.

Q. Joe, is Andy still as tough on himself as he used to be, and does that still sometimes kind of work against him?

JOE TORRE: It has not worked against him this year. But yes, that is his nature. I thought for a time last year, he was not that way. I think that he had fallen into that, expecting bad things to happen, instead of talking himself out of it. But now, you watch him on that mound, he's always having meetings with himself, walking off the mound. He's always talking, and when he gets back into the dugout, he talks to George some, or maybe Billy Connors or Mel some, but for the most part, he is involved in his own motivation and how to get back into that trance. He is a lot harder on himself this year than he was last year, but this is pretty much what the normal Andy would do.

Q. When you go back to when Andy went head-to-head with Smoltz in that 1996 game, do you remember thinking that when he emerged victorious, that this was a kid that you would be able to count on for a long time?

JOE TORRE: You're talking about Game 5? Atlanta? Yes, I did. I sensed early on when he had problems in the post-season in a game or two -- and we had a lot of conversations, and the thing I got out of those conversations, Andy thought that he had to be something more, pitching in post-season, and we talked a lot about that in Game 5, he was Andy. And that was obviously a huge game for us, because we had -- we had the momentum on our side, and we went home and with a 3-2 lead. But that game, no question, is one that I keep going back to, knowing what this kid is made of. He can win or lose tonight; it has nothing to do with being able to win a big game.

End of FastScripts....

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