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October 7, 2000

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe.

Q. Your apparent pitching game plan for the short series has been to pitch your starter as the most direct rout possible. I'm just wondering, what are you hoping to get out of Clemens tonight in terms of innings, and does that game plan -- have to be maybe altered tonight because of the fact he's pitching on three days' rest?

JOE TORRE: He said it a lot quicker than you. Actually, our starters this year have been pretty good about getting us to the eighth inning. Roger, as far as I'm concerned, he'll go as long as he feels good and we like what we see. But I am fine with Stanton and Nelson. Seventh inning on, I'm very comfortable doing that. We got seven innings last night out of El Duque. I had no hesitation with Mo, considering we had the day off in the eighth inning. I don't like doing that all the time, but I -- if Roger, tonight, I can reasonably expect six innings. A lot of it will be early. Last week when he started in Oakland, he was 3-1 a lot. Used a lot of pitches early. So, we'll just -- I anticipate six innings and maybe more, depending on pitch count early in the game.

Q. As a follow-up to that, if you get to the eighth, would you still be inclined to bring Mo in the eighth, or would you not be inclined to do that?

JOE TORRE: I'd rather not. I'd rather not. Last night, as I said, because of the off day, I did it and the fact that the eighth inning had the middle of their line-up coming up. So, my feeling was that the eighth inning was more or less a save inning than the ninth was.

Q. You referred last night to Rivera, you seem to see a different gleam in his eye in the post-season. Is there anything you can pinpoint as to why that happened in the past three years?

JOE TORRE: I go back to Mariano and his first year as a closer here in '97, giving up a home run in the eighth inning to Sandy Alomar. I think he's grown a great deal since then. He took that thing home with him, and he came into spring training, we talked about it quite often, Mo and myself. He basically just grew from there. He's been very -- he has a great deal of confidence in himself. You really don't see a whole lot of emotion from him and the fact that he's had success in the post-season, I think really eliminates a lot of doubt and a lot of questions about one's self when you've done it before in these situations. So, as long as he's healthy and we can hopefully not use him, although at this time of year, this is what the overdoing is all about, I think we did it in '98 also. He came in a number of times in the eighth inning in that post-season also.

Q. What kind of leadership has Derek Jeter shown through your slump at the end of the season? Within his kind of personality, how do you see his leadership evolving?

JOE TORRE: There's no question, Derek is a special person. He --during our bad streak, he always had that gleam in his eye, like, "This is the day we're going to break out of this," and it was a smile on his face all the time, as if to say, "All right, we haven't done it yet but we're going to do it today." There was never any doubt in this kid. I saw that from 1996, the first time I met him. That's something you can't teach. There's no question he's a leader, and the reason someone's allowed to be a leader is that nobody resents it. None of his teammates, even the fact that they're older, none of them resent the fact that he is that type of guy. They look to him. He plays every day. I think that's the best form of leadership you can have, is he doesn't do it with his mouth, he does it with his ability and the fact that he shows up every day.

Q. Is he doing any of it with his mouth?

JOE TORRE: You ask him a question, he'll tell you. He's one of our main cheerleaders. But, again, he'll get on different people in his own way, and he'll get on himself. He'll get on himself. He's not exempt from criticism. If he has a question, like there was a time I guess three, four weeks ago, he was thrown out trying to steal third base. The next half inning he came back, sat between Zimmer and myself and wanted to know if that was a dumb thing to do. He wasn't sure; he was thrown out. So, that was the question. I said that was fine, it was one out, a good reason to try to steal third, you thought you could make it so it wasn't a dumb thing, it just didn't turn out right.

Q. They say if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You went with the same line-up last night as Game 2. Tonight there's a change. Are you going in for the kill?

JOE TORRE: I'm trying to move some of the offense up top here. Soja has been our offensive guy. It's a left-handed pitcher, and I'm trying to -- I moved Jorge down to sort of protect Glenallen Hill, get behind Hill in the line-up, get some pop behind him against a left-hander. They're the same people, I just moved them around. Believe me, I spent some time last night and today thinking about different scenarios and decided to keep the same personnel in there and just shake it a little bit. I want Paul O'Neill back up in the three spot, hopefully a couple days out of there he'll get comfortable again and start doing something. I just think last night we had a couple of pretty good at-bats. He said, "Somebody told me you thought I had a couple good at-bats last night. You all right?" I said maybe I'm visualizing. So, hopefully tonight it comes to pass.

Q. Do you feel fortunate that you've only -- you guys have only given up one solo home run in three games to this team?

JOE TORRE: I feel fortunate that we're 2-1. We took advantage of some missed plays last night and we were able to do that and scratch and bite for a couple of runs. But for certain, that's the one thing that scares you about this club, is their ability to explode. And the only thing that can offset is that you have quality pitching. El Duque got behind T. Long last night and he let him know about it. So, if we can pitch to our capabilities, that stuff hasn't changed for a long time, good pitching will stop good hitting.

Q. Do you believe in the notion that teams can turn it on and off at will?

JOE TORRE: I've never seen that happen. I don't think you can purposely or knowingly do that. I'm not saying teams haven't tried it or maybe players have tried it. But I -- to me, if you got something going, you just keep it going because you never know once you lose it if it's going to come back to you. But I don't sense that -- I know we've been accused of that and I've been asked that question about our team in September, but this is a different team than I had in September. Maybe this time of year, because we're familiar with what goes on in this time of year, that we're -- I don't want to say comfortable about playing in post-season -- but we've been here before and I think that experience helps us.

Q. What is Sojo doing here, and what does he give you?

JOE TORRE: Well, we missed Luis when he was gone. There was good reason he wasn't coming back. We had Jimenez was going to be here, then he had that awful accident. We were fortunate to get him back. He's a great backup player, we got him in '96. I didn't know a whole lot about him. I get asked that same question in '96, I knew he was, what teams he played for. But when we got him, I realize what an asset he's been. He's a pro. It's not easy playing off the bench, he has those capabilities. He doesn't play for a month, he'll come in, make a play. That's the technique. That's really an art, to be able to come off the bench and play the way he has for us. I think it's really helped that he was a regular player over at Pittsburgh, where he got to play quite a bit. But he is -- when he walked in the clubhouse, I think everybody felt like we had a piece of our past back, and it was -- as it turned out, with Knobloch going down and hurt, between him and Vizcaino, it was a big help for us.

Q. Particularly after seeing what happened with the Braves, does the resilience of your team even surprise you sometimes, particularly this year, over the five years?

JOE TORRE: You know, I've come to expect it. I really do. I think it would probably surprise me more if we had gone through the end of the year the way we did, lost the first game, although I sensed the first game was different than what we had gone through before then. I would have been very surprised if we hadn't played well. I mean, I wish we hit a little bit more, but, again, that has a lot to do with their pitching, too. But as far as the attitude going in and the look going in, that has been pretty consistent over the last four or five years.

Q. Why was the first game different this time around?

JOE TORRE: No, no, different from the end of the season. I felt -- we were told our game now, our losing streak is eight games. I didn't think seven games the end of the year had anything to do with the first game in the playoffs. I thought we played well in the first game but we lost. I just meant the playoffs weren't different than other years, it was just different than the end of the season.

Q. Tino very quietly is getting two hits a game, he seems to be more locked in than the other big guys, Justice and O'Neill. Is there something he's doing that the other big guys aren't doing? Taking pitches, seeing the ball better?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think Tino is accepting the fact that he could hit the ball the other way, his one sacrifice fly was to leftfield. He's a good hitter. He hadn't had a lot of home runs, I know he's done that for us over the five years here, and to me, I think he was just trying to be productive for us by hitting home runs. That's my opinion, not necessarily his. But I see him now taking the line, the base hit up the middle, hitting the ball the other way. I think when he does that, he's a better hitter. I think right now, there's no longer a chance to make up for numbers you don't have over the season, so right now, he's being the hitter he's capable of being. Plus, he's had this arm problem that's bothered him for a while. I think it's really given him a problem to snap and turn on the ball.

Q. Overall, why do you think it's been a struggle for your offense? Is September carrying over, or do you think it's virtual playoff pitching?

JOE TORRE: I think it could be a carryover, that part of it, guys trying to get their groove. Bernie's swinging the bat real well. Justice will chip in a hit here and there. Jeter, I think it's more noticeable at the top of the line-up. I think when the top of the line-up is hitting, all of a sudden everything else seems to fall into place. Jeter did a couple great things for us last night, put the ball in play, we got a couple of runs. I think a lot of it you have to credit their pitching for. It's no mistake that they won the western division because basically, I know they hit a lot of home runs, but their pitching has been terrific.

Q. You said they played well in the first game. After the way September went, was it important to let them know that they played well, to make them think they played well?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think when I allowed them to celebrate even though we didn't win to clinch the division, I congratulated them for winning more games than anybody else in the Eastern Division. The first game, I had a meeting, like I always do before the first game of a post-season, and basically we just talked about doing little things, nothing more than doing the best you can. I think we all felt disappointed that we lost the first game, but I think they knew that I was pleased with their effort and the fact that we had a lead, we couldn't hold on to it, but we played hard. They know when that happens; they really do, because you can sense it in the dugout. I still felt we were tense, but that happens - I'm happy to say every year, because we've been in the post-season every year - in this first series of five games, which is difficult to go through.

Q. What's your impression of Art Howe? Do you see any of the parallels that we've tried to draw in his managing career and yours?

JOE TORRE: Except that he went to post-season as a player, I never did that. But Artie, he's been fired a couple of times. Parallels there, I know he came under fire out there where he is out. It's great. He's a great guy. He's a good baseball man, probably became a better player late in his career as a role-type player, regular third baseman. But, he lets his players play, and I can relate to that because that's what I try to do. They -- I know we were talking about their trip here on -- I forgot the day of the week we're in now -- I guess it was Thursday, if they had travelled when we did, they would have gotten in earlier. I said I would have done the same thing, I would have had the players stay home, sleep in their own bed. He said I asked them, that's basically what I do. I asked my players after we won that game in Oakland, what do you guys want to do tomorrow. A couple guys said, "I want to hit." I said we'll have an optional workout tomorrow, we'll have it available for whoever wants to hit. The players know who's boss, it's not like you're going to mandate things. You're still going to work with them as opposed to them working for you.

Q. Did Andy try to lobby you at all to stay here instead of going to Oakland?

JOE TORRE: Yes. And it wasn't the fact -- I mean this is -- even when it was 1-1. It wasn't the fact that we won last night either, I think by that time it was more kidding than anything else, "Let me stay." He felt that he could be here and get enough rest, but the schedule is nuts. If we have to go back there and get in at four or five in the morning, then have to be at the ballpark at 12 or 1 in the afternoon. So, unfortunately, for him, he had to leave tonight and hopefully he misses a celebration. That's all I can say. Hopefully that happens. But in the event we do have to go out there, he would have not necessarily slept, but at least rested a little bit more than we will.

End of FastScripts....

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