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October 3, 2000

Joe Torre


Q. I guess if you look over the course of the season Andy Pettitte, has he been your most consistent pitcher?

JOE TORRE: I think if you look over the course of the season, yes. If you count from June on, it was probably Roger. But he's really the only one, you know, knock on wood, that's stayed pretty healthy and I think that was a big part of it.

Q. When you were losing the lead late in the season with the Braves --

JOE TORRE: That was in the middle .

Q. How did you deal with it then, and is that any different from dealing with this situation. Way back when, that year with the Braves when you were losing to the Braves, how about telling us how you dealt with it then?

JOE TORRE: You went out and played every day. You referred to the Royster game. We were just talking about that yesterday. It was incredible. I don't know how many games we had lost to that point, I was talking about it with Chip Carey yesterday, it was two out, and the two-out groundball with Royster at second base and the ball went right through his legs. I don't know how it went through his legs. I don't know how we wound up losing that game. How I brought them out of that slump was I made sure Pascual Perez got the loss and gave the ball to Phil Niekro; and it was interesting, everybody got a glove. Phil went out there and pitched and we went out and won 13 out of 15 after losing 18 out of 21.

Q. Would you talk about Pettitte being a lefty against the A's, they have had problems with left-handed pitching?

JOE TORRE: I think it's no secret, the fact that whether you're a lefty or a righty, you still need to be able to execute and be able to have command of your stuff. Just the fact that you are left-handed gives you an advantage, unless you are able to move the ball around and stay out of those fat zones. These teams that are in the post season are going to let you know about those fat zones. They swing the bat with a lot of confidence. Sure, if Andy has his stuff, he's been tough on teams that have had left-handers and he is probably equally as tough against right-handers because he has the equipment to go against them. But I think it is command.

Q. In a short series, the team that loses the first game, how much pressure is there?

JOE TORRE: There's a great deal of pressure. There's no question. We lost the first game in 1996 to Texas and we were losing the second game and this was at home, which makes it even tougher than doing it on the road. But it's definitely pressure packed. I mean, this first series of five games, it's very tough. But again, you have to go out and play; can't go hide. You know, you just have to do what I do. Understand that each team that's in this post season, everybody is capable of winning three games in a row. So even the fact that you lose two games, the Red Sox last year, they come back and win three games. You get that momentum turned with one game. So you never really, other than mathematically, you never really are at that overwhelming advantage, I don't think, until it is over with.

Q. How important is it for your team, given how you came in here with the losing streak?

JOE TORRE: Came in playing like everybody else.

Q. Although for you guys momentum-wise to get it turned around?

JOE TORRE: I think everybody else is more concerned about the way we come in here than we are. I'd like to believe that what went on is nothing -- there's not a whole lot you can do about it and you're happy the season is over and you squandered most of the lead, but that part of the season is over with. Sure, there's no question you want to be riding sky high and being, you know, very confident in what you do. But I have a sense that what happened in the previous couple of weeks is not going to affect us. I mean, if we lose today, I don't think its because of what has gone on here the last couple weeks.

Q. You talked about how quickly things can switch. Would you rather this first series be a four out of seven? Would it make a difference?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think it should be four out of seven. I've said that before. Basically because you have to win so many games to get here. And to me, this is -- makes it a lot tougher to go beyond this. But in order to do that, I think you have to shorten the schedule and it becomes really a mess, because otherwise, you're going to be going into November some time. We're close now.

Q. This is really the first time your team has been an underdog. Do you think that could be a rallying point for the team?

JOE TORRE: I don't think we're out to prove anybody wrong. We're out to do the best we can. I know it sounds trite and boring and all that stuff, but that's basically what we do. You know, we don't look at underdog favorite -- I mean, if we went into the series in the past as the favorite, you have a tendency to get a little overconfident, and I think by the results, we've proven that we have never let that happen. As far as being the underdog, you know, I'd like to be the underdog all the time with Roger Clemens pitching for us.

Q. Would you talk about Pettitte a little bit, what you like about him and the problems he's had?

JOE TORRE: Well, I was spoiled a little bit. The first year in '96, you know, he won very important games during the season, during the post season, a big game in Game 5 against the Braves, 1-0. So right away, you know, he was better than I was, as a player, because I never got to post season, and that impressed the hell out of me. He went through what he went through last year, which was very hard on all of us, because nobody prepares more, and sometimes that works against him because he's such a fanatic when it comes to that. But after the middle of the year last year, he came on, but this spring, when I watched him pitch, he just changed some things mechanically. He speeded everything up. I guess he did that when he first started, and he just seems to, I can't say a little more energy, but it just looks better and he's been more effective. I think all of his pitches are working for him better because of the mechanical changes he's made, fundamental changes that he's made. As far as pitching tough games, he pitched a couple of times this year against Pedro in Boston and came out on the plus side both times, and that's not easy to do.

Q. An example of a mechanical change?

JOE TORRE: Just speeded everything up. He was more deliberate before, and I think he's accelerated his delivery a little bit, and just his windup is quicker.

Q. Makes it easier on the fielders?

JOE TORRE: Sure. Doesn't necessarily means he works faster, but just means that when he winds up, it is quicker. I'm not sure about between pitches if it is less time, but I think mechanically, the windup is a little quicker.

End of FastScripts....

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