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October 6, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe.

Q. Did Chuck take it hard at all when he found out he wasn't going to be in the line-up?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I just posted the line-up today. The other day when I made the change, I talked to Chuck and Paul O'Neill. But just posting the same line-up, I didn't do that.

Q. Knowing Clemens, how do you think he'll react pitching on three days' rest?

JOE TORRE: I think he'll be fine. When we made this decision, obviously I called them in one at a time. If he thought it was going to be a problem, he would have mentioned it to me then. I remember last year when he had this little bit of a hamstring, I think it was, early in the year, we were sort of making extra days off for him, he said at that time that he's probably better with a day less than a day extra. So I had that in mind when -- that was part of the decision-making.

Q. Everybody's been talking about this today. Do you think this baseball park changes its character in October?

JOE TORRE: I do. It just seems to be louder. It's pretty loud anyway. But the way the ballpark is situated and the fans are close to the playing field, because the last couple of years you're on three million people, we've had this quite often with a lot of people out there. It really feels good when you play home. But post-season, I guess it goes up just a decibel or two. It seems to, because of what's at stake I guess.

Q. If Neagle had pitched better down the stretch, do you think you would have gone with a four-man rotation?

JOE TORRE: Well, it would have been a tough decision, one way or the other. This, to me, with the inconsistency of Denny -- and, again, it doesn't mean that I don't have confidence in him, but I'm just not sure he's comfortable with the way he's pitched down the stretch. But it would have given me another option, I could go one way or another even at this juncture.

Q. Was there a significant difference between Roger in the first four innings and the last two the other night?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. I think the first four innings, I know he wasn't happy with, even though Oakland didn't score. He got in some pitch counts. He showed them a lot of pitches, 3 and 1, a lot of 3 and 1 counts. It's not that I thought he was pitching tentatively, he made some pitches that were maybe just off, just out of the strike zone. So he was around it. He thought his command was pretty good. But I didn't see anything different in the innings they scored.

Q. How would you use Denny and David Cone and Gooden in a series like this? Would you use them to get one out or in a Mendoza role?

JOE TORRE: Probably all of the above. I mean, I don't know. I think it would have to present itself and try to figure out, when you look down the line-up, on who you think your starter's only going to go to this certain guy in the line-up, who would you want to get this next person out. Then you have to consider, well, will Artie pinch hit? If it's that type of player. But I wouldn't be afraid to use David Cone to get one out. David Cone has been there before and his stuff has been good, and he's had some nagging problems since he dislocated his shoulder. But most of those problems have come after being out there for a while. So I don't think it would be a while for him to come in and get an out if I needed one.

Q. How much do you think the atmosphere has helped your team win nine straight home playoff games? Does it help with an experienced team for your club?

JOE TORRE: I think it does. I'm not sure. This Oakland club is a little bit different than a lot of inexperienced teams. They seem to be having a lot of fun. They've all -- they've accomplished a whole lot more than anybody expected them to, maybe except themselves. I think early in the game is going to make a difference in who gets a lead, and I know our fans never leave the game as far as if we're down, they're never going to quiet down. They're always going to be out there and be very loud. But it certainly does feel good to us, and it's loud and you know they're there for you. It's made a difference, I think, being at home and being successful. I don't think it's a coincidence.

Q. How has Chuck reacted to being benched? How do you fore-see maybe using him in a game like tonight?

THE MODERATOR: He answered the first part of that question already. Would you perceive using him in a game like tonight?

JOE TORRE: It's post-season. To me, it's not being benched, it's just putting a line up out there day-to-day. Especially in post-season, these players are committed to winning and they're committed to each other. They understand. The one thing I would like to think they respect more than that about me, but they do respect the fact that I make the decisions and it's my job to make decisions. When I called Chuck in the other day, he wasn't pleased. I told him right there, I said, "The press, they're going to come to you, don't explain how you feel, I mean don't hold back on my account. Just go right ahead and I don't expect you to be happy and if that's the way you feel, go ahead and talk about it." How would I use him? I could use him to pinch run, I could use him to pinch hit, depending on what the circumstances were at the time. Lead off an inning, something like that. I wouldn't be hesitant to do that.

Q. When it's fair or unfair, it seems that people are still waiting for Clemens to do something great. Tomorrow would be that situation, either clinch or save you from losing. Is that fair that people still seem to be waiting for him to do something great?

JOE TORRE: If they were out for Game 4 last year of the World Series, he did something pretty great then.

Q. Although cynics would say you were up 3-0.

JOE TORRE: You still have to be up 4-0 to win. I had a lot of questions answered, how to answer earlier this year on Rivera. I think the answer is similar, where when you set the bar as high as Roger has with his five Cy Young awards and dominance that when you lose some games, when you don't think it's possible to lose games, you question that. Rivera, how dominant he's been over the last couple of years, I can't say he's struggled. He didn't get a save. So it was -- all of a sudden the sky was falling. I think when you set that bar very high, it's very tough to live up to it every single time out. I certainly believe Roger will be out there tomorrow daring people to beat him. Hopefully it's in a position that we clinch.

Q. Weighing El Duque's clutch performances in the post-season and the importance of a Game 3 in a five-game series, how much rope does he get tonight? How much do you stick with him because of what he's done before?

JOE TORRE: I think it's going to depend on how I think he's pitching. If he's got command, if we think he's throwing good, I don't think the score is going to dictate as much as what I see. So it's tough to answer that as far as how many runs would he have to give up. I feel that his stuff is quality and he's making some good pitches, they may score some runs and he's not getting hit hard. So it would be tough to remove him for that. If he's getting hit hard and it doesn't look like he has command, then we make a switch.

Q. Not having seen either Hudson or Zito this year --?

JOE TORRE: We saw Zito.

Q. I'm sorry, you're right. Seeing how hot they were in September, is Hudson a different pitcher than he was last year?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think you rely so much on video anymore and scouting reports and the players who have seen him understand what he's about. He stays down, likes to stay down. We've got to be patient with him, just like they've got to be patient with El Duque. Of course if you've seen him before, it gives you an idea of where he's coming from, where to look for the ball, where the release point is. But, again, with the video -- and I can't relate to this because we didn't have a whole lot of this when I played -- you rely on the hitter in front of you telling you, "Well, look at the middle of his body and there's the ball," stuff like that. You rely on whoever has personal experience and the scouting reports. What you do with scouting reports is you know about stuff, sure, the number of pitches he throws. But it's how he pitches. Knowing how stingy he is and how stubborn he is about giving you pitches to hit, so I think you have to have that in mind when you go after him.

Q. Does he look like a Cy Young caliber pitcher?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question. I think Artie wouldn't be a very popular coach if he thought that Pedro should win it over his pitcher. But for sure, he has the aura about him. For being someone as young as he is, I think that's pretty impressive. But the look in his eyes, I had him in the All-Star Game. He's not one of those kids that tells you how good he is, he just goes out and shows you. I think that is impressive.

Q. The Phillies have said they want to interview Willie for their job. What does he bring to the table that makes him a good candidate?

JOE TORRE: He's played for a number of teams. He's been in post-season play. He's coached third base here for a number of years. Managers, aside from a bench code, a third-base coach is probably the most important guy on the staff in relation to the game being run. You don't count pitching coaches because that's a separate part of it. So I think the experience that he's been around baseball for a long time and has coached third base in this city, which is not that easy to do, he hasn't managed in the Minor Leagues. Chris Chambliss has. I suspect that Chris will get interviewed. I just hope that the interviews are of a serious nature and not just because they have to interview blacks is the reason they're getting interviewed.

Q. What do you think the return of Sojo has meant to the team? Could you have envisioned him having this big of a role when you got him back?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I guess I could have envisioned him having this kind of a role because he's such a good bench player. He doesn't need to play a whole lot to be effective. He takes the sitting on the bench and playing with the same attitude. He's ready to do it and for whatever chunk of it you want him to do it with. When he came back, I think a lot of players felt that we got a piece of the club last year back. He was a big part of the club. He's a good versatile player because you can do a lot of things with him. He doesn't swing and miss very often. If you want to start a runner or if you decide to hit and run, he's pretty good with the bat. Plus, defensively, he may be limited a little bit range-wise, but he has great hands. His feet are something else. We're not sure about that. But his hands are good. (Laughter.)

Q. You're a player's manager.

JOE TORRE: It got me fired a couple times. (Laughter.)

Q. You're a player's manager, you're close to your players all year long. When you have to bench a Chuck Knoblauch because of baseball reasons, does it bother you?


Q. Some people say there might be more to Chuck being benched other than baseball reasons.

JOE TORRE: Well, it is. It is very difficult. Especially when he's our leadoff hitter, I still consider him our leadoff hitter even though he hasn't played the last couple of times. I can't help what -- the reason people think he's not playing other than the fact that I sense that he is comfortable DHing, and in my mind, with the scarcity of runs that we've been able to put on the board and the fact that I do defense for him the seventh, eighth and the ninth inning. I'm thinking more in terms of defense for nine innings because I don't want to give anything away. Again, it's not that he's obviously been a good second baseman for a long time, he's had a tough time this year. I think it's improving, but it may not be all the way back yet.

End of FastScripts....

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