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October 17, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. Why do you think Hernandez raises his level in the post-season, and what do you think happened to Nelson the other day?

JOE TORRE: I don't know the answer for El Duque. The first one I go to is in Cleveland when we were down two games to one and he had not pitched in 16 days and all of the sudden he was as sharp as can be. At that point, I realized there was something special there. I can't give you a nuts and bolts answer. As far as Nelly, one of these things, he almost made a great pitch on A-Rod. Got in off the fat of the bat a little bit, but not enough, and he put a pitch out over the plate to Edgar. He's been pitching real well for me I have to go back to having him up three different times the day before, which probably had some effect.

Q. Do you think Jeter has an appreciation that these games are not a regular part of the schedule; everyone doesn't get to do what he's gotten to do? This every year?

JOE TORRE: Trust me I reminded him of that, because of how long it took me to get there. This stuff didn't happen every year, but it does to him, and he's a special kid. I remember his first game. I know I've mentioned it in this room before, he made on error leading to -- probably contributing to the loss against Texas. We left there that evening and he just peeked in and told me it was the most important game of my life the next day. He's a special kid.

Q. Do you feel like you have a handle on your team right now? Do you feel better about it than you are all year or are you still surprised?

JOE TORRE: Well, I hope the surprises are pleasant. But I think I have a handle on it, yeah. We've played well in post-season. We didn't finish the season very well. We started both series on a down note. But for some reason, when we had to make that plane trip to Oakland and had to play Game 5 that afternoon, something was different about this team, and then we started the second series a little bit. I don't want so say flat, but we were just pressing, probably, trying to score some runs. But after the eighth inning in Game 2, I was more comfortable with this team, more of the type of game than we played in Game 3, which is more like us, manufacturing things and Game 4, Rogers game was big for us. But in Game 3 we did little things that helped us win, and even in Game 5, we had many opportunities. We put men on base, against Freddy who had given us trouble the first time around. We were not able to knock them in. That was the difference.

Q. In this great run of yours, one thing you've always been are great closers and you didn't close the first series when you had a chance and you didn't close this series when you had a great chance. Does that concern you at all?

JOE TORRE: Well, the first series, Roger was pitching on three days rest, and it didn't seem to work. From looking around it didn't seem to work for anybody. Then Denny Neagle was okay. I thought he didn't throw enough strikes in Game 5. Tonight is El Duque. To me the important game in this series has been Game 3, where Pettitte won and enabled me to make that decision to have El Duque tonight and Pettitte for tomorrow if we need to have him.

Q. With a New York team already in the World Series, does this have a different feel for you and your team than other years when you've been at this point?

JOE TORRE: Hopefully not, because we really can't let that distract us, what's ahead if we do move on. You know, with all of the questions that are being asked and everything that is through the media and the newspapers and the radio, it is pretty well a slam-dunk that we're going to do this thing. And we don't feel that way. We understand that we have to work to get it, and that's what our intention is tonight.

Q. With the Mets winning across town and you guys not closing out in Seattle, can you give us a little read on the Boss? Have you had to calm him down like in '96?

JOE TORRE: No. I don't have a sense of that. '96 was different. We lost the first two games to the Braves and we got our rear ends kicked pretty good and he wasn't feeling too good about it. This series he has seen us play well. He got frustrated just like the rest of us after Sunday's game. He was in my office earlier today and I didn't sense anything that needed to be calmed down.

Q. Did you watch the Mets game last night, and in an already pressurized environment, does the fact that they won heighten the pressure?

JOE TORRE: No. I was out to dinner. Turned it on and it was 6-0 and I turned it off at that point. I don't know. It's always pressure for us. I don't care what the circumstances are here. We could be ahead 3-0. We could be down 2-0. We could be a .500 team. To me, the Yankees always have the need to win. So the pressure is always there. I think we're used to dealing with the pressure to win.

Q. In mid-September, I asked you whether you thought this was your most difficult year managing, and you said no, last year was harder because of the illnesses. Do you have any different perspective on it now, after the slump?

JOE TORRE: I sort of go on my club, and I felt my club was very tight going the last couple of weeks, trying to close it out, just to get to post-season play. Since we have gotten in post-season play, it is a whole new set of circumstances, as far as pressure. This has been the most unusual season I've had, as far as, really, unpredictable. I think we've been distracted at times; mainly, when all of the trade talk was going on about midway through, and I think the club sort of felt -- first of all, they felt bad for Ricky Ledee because he was involved in all of the rumors, but once we made the deal, I think we sort of settled in. But we've still tried to do different things. We missed Knoblauch for a good portion of the season so we tried to play around that. So we've done more experimenting this year. But at this point with the set lineup that we have, I'm comfortable with our club. And our season has been based on pitching and our success has been starting pitching, especially, and getting to Rivera and Stanton and Nelly. Right now I'm very comfortable with that game.

Q. Now that you're ten games through the post-season, what is the biggest difference between this team and the teams of the last two years?

JOE TORRE: Well, right now we have a backup second baseman playing second base. And we're using our second baseman as a DH. That's been the difference. Chili was our designated hitter along with Strawberry. We were a little more, I don't want to say put together, but a little more predictable in that regard, where this year, we are doing things -- once I settled on Knoblauch, I really closed my mind to anything else because I'm very comfortable with that situation. You know, Mendoza, I think missing Mendoza in a couple of spots during the post-season, where you had to go to your set-up man a little earlier maybe more than you wanted to. We won one of those games and lost one of those games. But aside from that, the starting pitching, especially the three gays, have been very, very good.

Q. With 15 men left on base, is that the case of a team that knows it has big games to close out, or is that the sign of a team that's really pressing to get there?

JOE TORRE: You know you have three games to get there, but you never want it to get beyond that. And we want to close it out. We are ready to close it out. I thought we played the game very well. We just didn't knock any runs in. And you have to credit Garcia where he had runners at second and third and one man out, I thought that was a big turn in that ballgame where he got Knoblauch and Brosius. But I thought continuing to put people on base, we played well, but it's just that we could not get that hit. And I guess we've been spoiled in the past, because every time you needed one, you got one.

Q. What are your memories of the all New York World Series growing up as a kid and if you are able to get in, how do you think it will be different in this day and age?

JOE TORRE: Well, when I was a kid, it was always a New York World Series. Mainly the Dodgers and the Yankees, but on occasion, the Giants and the Yankees. This would be different, because, first of all, I mean, media makes it bigger. Baseball is more than just a game anymore. I think after going through the interleague here for a few years, just to see how big that was, I think it gives you an indication that if it ever came to be, what an enormous energy the City is going to have. A lot of other cities are going to be (yawns), but I think New York City, they are going to be up for it. No question.

End of FastScripts....

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