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October 25, 1999

Joe Torre

NEW YORK CITY: Workout Day

Q. What's your impression of the relationship between Pettitte and Girardi specifically, and do you think Pettitte will be disappointed if Girardi weren't back next year?

JOE TORRE: Well, as professionals, you have to do what you do. Andy pitched only to Jim Leyritz. Leyritz left and Girardi's here, and, you know, if Joe happens to leave, then he's going to have to do what he does, you know, do the best he can. Their relationship is special because they work together a lot and I think they're comfortable with each other. But aside from that, you know, things change and you're going to have to change with them.

Q. Does your line-up remind you a lot of you as a hitter where there are guys with a lot of power but they don't seem power-hungry?

JOE TORRE: I don't think you can conform to somebody, you know, have everybody conform to the way you like people to hit. I think you'd have to hit according to your ability. We don't have home-run hitters. Sure, I mean Tino hit 40-something home runs a couple years ago. But for the most part, 20 home runs, 30 home runs maybe. You know, where home runs have gone, what used to be 20 home runs is 30 home runs now. But we're mainly -- we use the whole plate as hitters. We don't give any part of the plate where sometimes power hitters are able to do that because they sort of zero in on one spot. Paul O'Neill, for instance, he was this kind of hitter when I got here, and there's no question if Paul O'Neill decided to hit home runs he could probably hit 30 home runs and maybe give up 40 points on his batting average. But he feels he'd rather do what he does, which, to me, you know, fits what we do.

Q. Do you have an opinion on what NBC did to Pete Rose last night?

JOE TORRE: I thought it was uncalled for, and I was very disappointed. For some reason, we've lost sight of the word respect, and I think we deal too much in shock value anymore. And I'm just disappointed in that whole thing. I watched it -- I didn't see it, obviously, when it went on. Some of my players came back as it was going on, very upset with what was transpiring, and I just watched it today and I was disappointed really.

Q. To follow up on that, some of your players were talking about not talking to Jim Gray during the World Series. Do you have any thoughts on that? Is there anyone organizing that?

JOE TORRE: I never encourage or discourage my players. They do what they want to do. They're all individuals, and I'll support them if they have good reason to do what they do; I'll support them in what they decide to do.

Q. Is there any way to measure how much better or more complete your team becomes with a DH considering that's what you're used to playing with?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's -- sure, it's something we're more used to having, and Bobby, you know, will be able to add that extra player that he wouldn't normally get in the game. You know, so I think it's a little bit of a benefit to him, but probably more so for us only because we sign people to be designated hitters in our league. So it's a regular position. And right now, we have, you know, three guys to choose from with Jimmy Leyritz and Darryl and Chili.

Q. A couple of the guys, couple of your pitchers have said they feel they're not getting enough credit. Questions have all been about what happens with the Texas hitting, what happens to the Braves hitting. Because they have been so effective, is it because they're pitching to their own strengths or exploiting other teams' weaknesses?

JOE TORRE: Well, the pitching to the strengths or weaknesses of hitters is something you deal with all the time. I don't think it's any secret when you go up there as a hitter how pitchers try to get you out, and you live off making mistakes as hitters. I think our pitchers are getting plenty of credit, you know, from us because we know how pitching can stop hitting. And I don't care how dominant or how good the hitting is, I think the All-Star Game in Boston was a good example, you put Pedro out there and you've got Walker, you've got McGwire, you've got Sosa, I'm not sure there would have been a foul ball in those guys the first time around. It's not a knock to them. It's just when pitching is good, it's very difficult to hit. There's no question. But we've had good scouting reports, but, again, good scouting reports are only good if we can pitch to, you know, and execute them very well. We have done that. Our pitchers have focused very well, and I don't remember at any time during the season, I know Don Zimmer mentioned this to me and I agree with him, during the course of the year, sure, we had a good year, we won 98 games. But the fact that how many times did we go through the rotation with the efficiency that we've had in the post-season? I don't think we went through a full time or two with the efficiency we've had lately.

Q. How much does the mental game come into play both as an advantage for your team and a disadvantage for Atlanta that you've been so successful against them?

JOE TORRE: Well, the thing is if you keep executing, you'd like to get in people's heads, but Atlanta won more games than any other team in baseball, and there's no question teams have tried to play the mental game. We try to play it with each other, but when you win as many games as they have, they go out there tomorrow night and they're going to be confident they could beat our brains out. They're going to look for pitches to hit, be aggressive, and that's what they do best. I don't really think we have any emotional or mental advantage over them, other than the fact that we've been pitching really well and that our hitters are taking advantage of mistakes and being able to be very patient. I think that's one signature our ballclub has, is the patience of our hitters.

Q. The other night when they changed from Glavine to Maddux, you said it could cause you to make a change in leftfield. With Glavine, does that mean you go to Curtis in leftfield?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, Chad will play leftfield tomorrow night. I don't know who my DH is. So before that question is asked, I'm not sure what I'm going to do.

Q. Do you expect Sojo tomorrow? Second, how much has having Zimmer on your side impacted your coaching all these years?

JOE TORRE: Sojo assured me he'd be here tomorrow. Flight's supposed to land before noon. And Don Zimmer, I remember when I was looking around, I had a list; three, four potential bench coaches. He was at the top of the list, and I said one of the big reasons, I knew Donnie a little bit, always enjoyed talking to him on the other side of the field. It was the fact that he has been here in New York, he coached here, and so he was pretty much aware of what goes on around here, and I thought that was very important. Plus the fact that he tells you the truth all the time. And that's so important for me. I didn't realize how much help he was going to be until he, you know, we sat next to each other in '96 and it's like play-by-play as far as do this, think about this, blah, blah, blah, back and forth. It took a little time to realize that we weren't going to hurt each other's feelings here if we said no to each other. By the end of '96, we had a very comfortable relationship.

Q. You guys seem to be throwing breaking balls for strike one a lot. Is that something that you always do, or is that something you learned from the scouting reports?

JOE TORRE: We'll invite you in next time. (Laughter.)

Q. That's what I thought you said. Having worked for both of the men who own the two teams here, what are the common threads and how might they be a little different?

JOE TORRE: Well, they both want to win. They both want to be number 1. And, of course, maybe Ted, his focus, you know, he went to the satellite and TBS and CNN and CNN2 and Captain Courageous and that whole nine yards. He tried a number of things. George is the horse racing, the ship building, but we know that he's around here all the time. That's the big difference. They both want to win, but to me, this is George's life, and Ted has other things that go on in his. He's turned it over to John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, and obviously they've righted the ship there that was sort of up and down for a number of years. They're pretty much an impact ballclub right now.

Q. Have three of these in four years made you a hardened World Series veteran, or can you still conjure up the feeling of before '96?

JOE TORRE: It's very exciting. The first time's exciting, you're not really sure of everything that's gone on during '96. '98, you enjoy a little bit more even though it was a lot of pressure last year after the year we had. This year I'm enjoying most of all. I don't know if it's the experience I went through in the spring with my health problems and plus everything that was humanized with this club with Brosius and just a number of different problems that different players have had. When you keep going to post-season, it only gets better. It never gets old, you never take it for granted and it is really exciting. What I thought it was before '96, it's every bit of that and more.

Q. Without calling on you to spill trade secrets or anything, can you talk generally about the importance of scouting and specifically how that has helped your pitchers be as dominant as they have been in the post-season?

JOE TORRE: Well, scouting's important. I mean obviously we've scouted the Braves before the post-season because we played them during the season. And, again, even though you have scouting reports, you still have to have the ability to put them to use. I mean you can't very well not have the quality pitchers go out there and use the scouting report and expect to be as successful as we have. So you still need the quality to go out there and execute it. It's not just because we picked something up or we know that he can't hit this particular pitch or that. But it's still a matter of going from the hand to the catcher's mitt. That takes a lot more than knowing what to do; you still have to do it.

Q. Is it something more than just ability with Jeter that enables him to do what he does all year long into the playoffs and even on a stage like the World Series?

JOE TORRE: Ability and stability, that's okay, he has both of them. The first game of the post-season in '96, he made an error, lead to the winning run for Texas. Everybody -- the question from most of the media was are you going to talk to him. I didn't know the answer at that time. That night on the way out of the ballpark, he peeked in, he said, "Mr. Torre, get some sleep, tomorrow's an important game." I realized I didn't have to talk to him; everything was okay. This kid is special -- I know I used the word special, I can't find another word to use. Extraordinary. I go out to the mound, change pitchers, he comes over, hits me on the chest with his glove, who's coming in. He wants all the information. But if you look in his eyes, I mean he's ready to wrestle alligators, lions, anything you want to send out there. He just loves the competition. He thrives on the competition, and he's never afraid to make a mistake and you put all those qualities together and you've got a Derek Jeter who's going to be, with God's help, as far as staying healthy, around for a long time and could be a terrific impact player, hopefully, for the New York Yankees for a long time.

End of FastScripts…

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