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October 26, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. How close did the organization come to moving Andy Pettitte this year, and for those of us who weren't intimately following it, it seemed like you went to bat more for him more than anybody else in the organization. What kind of split was in there?

JOE TORRE: I really don't know the split. I know with the New York Yankees, we have a group of scouts and people in Florida that constantly have meetings and, of course, George is involved in that all the time. But I was asked my opinion. Of course Mel Stottlemyre echoes the same opinion about not forgetting what Andy did for us in '96 and winning big games in '97 and Game 2 against Texas in '98. I guess not having been to the post-season play as a player, I really put a lot of weight and a lot of emphasis on post-season wins, because, you know, everybody has an opportunity to play in post-season, and the ones that do well are the ones I remember and I really feel are important. I don't know what the split was or how close it came to being a trade; however, you know, like we made a Roger Clemens trade that came up bang bang in the spring. It was nothing we worked on all winter. Things can materialize rather quickly; I'm glad that never happened.

Q. Luis Sojo mentioned before he left for his dad's funeral that he really begged you guys to keep him on the roster; he promised he would be back. Knowing how important it was for him to be on the roster, did sentiment play into the fact that you guys wanted to keep him?

JOE TORRE: I'd like to say that was the reason; we needed him. It's tough to go with just one backup infielder, especially when you're playing in a National League park. But having him be a part of this ballclub since 1996, there's no question we wanted him to be a part but we needed him to be here today, you know, if he wasn't here today and missed three games, there would have been a tough call to allow him to be on this list. I'm certainly happy, and everybody else in that clubhouse is happy that he was able to be here.

Q. How would you characterize Roger Clemens' season and was it difficult to have him wait until Game 4 to go?

JOE TORRE: Roger Clemens' season, he's gone out there with good stuff. Early in the season, first of all, he hurt his leg, he had a pulled muscle, tried to pitch with it, didn't work. But I just think Roger put a lot of pressure on himself. He went out there with good stuff for the most part. We didn't score a lot of runs from him early on, tried to be too perfect, tried to keep the opposition from doing anything and got himself in a hole, dug himself in a pretty good hole. Just toward the end of the season, I think he started relaxing and then realizing that we traded for Roger Clemens; we didn't expect, you know, that he was going to win the Cy Young Award. It would have been great if he had that type of year. But we felt he was a good fit for our ballclub. Every time I put his name on that line-up card, I expect a good outing. As far as pitching him in Game 4, you know, we meet with these pitchers individually and as a group, and they pretty well -- I don't want to say dictate -- but they pretty well respect the other guy and who deserves to pitch where. I remember meeting with Roger in Florida, calling him in right before we started post-season. I said, "What do you think?" He said, "I think El Duque should pitch Game 1." Stuff like that, it's important, I think, to have the open line of communication and to have players understand that we're trying to win games here and I think they respect that Mel and I make those decisions. But it's nice to have them buy into it as opposed to dictating to them. I don't believe in that type of behavior.

Q. Given that your team is not obsessed with home runs, is very patient, is that more a product of just how they are as players or is that your philosophy?

JOE TORRE: I think it's of their own nature. The only thing I keep reminding them is we'll hit home runs but we're not home-run hitters, and not to lose sight of how we can be successful. And with the abilities of our players, we are -- we do a better job by just thinking line drive. So we can move runners, we don't have many guys that swing and miss. We don't have many guys that swing and miss. That's basically our game. We don't sit back and wait for a big inning only because we're not capable of doing that on a regular basis. But what we do, especially from one to nine in our line-up, except maybe when Darryl's in the line-up. Obviously he's more than a contact hitter. But what we do, we like to try to put pressure on the defense by doing certain things offensively but getting the most out of our at-bats. I can't say it's something I dictate. You look at the ability of the team and it's your evaluation, this is the way we'll be more successful. I just remind them every once in a while they get frustrated and haven't hit home runs that the home runs will come and we don't have the ability to go up there and say, "I'm going to hit a home run this time." That's not what we do.

Q. Could you elaborate a little bit more on the patience factor, the deep counts. Sunday night, four out of those five singles came after the count was 0-2 on the batter. Is it a philosophy?

JOE TORRE: I think basically it's an approach against pitchers. We have scouting reports, we've faced these pitchers before, you go up with a plan. They were very unusual games. Game 1, we took advantage of some hitter's counts, Game 2 we were able to overcome some pitcher's counts, as you said. But, again, I think what helps us is the fact that we're just thinking, "jab, jab, jab," as opposed to knockout punch. We're thinking of a line drive. If something happens to be a mistake, maybe a pitch you can get a home run with, but you're not swinging for a home run anyway, you're thinking more in terms of that.

Q. Joe Morgan said this is more like National League baseball in the American League.

JOE TORRE: I think basically because the American League has always been known as a power league. National League, what you try to do is be aggressive, basically because you have the pitcher hitting. And you try to force scoring runs, I think. That's my philosophy anyway. And, yeah, we do that and the ability -- because we have a DH, you know, you can continue to do that around the line-up. But the National League, there's no question you try to do more things so you don't put the pitcher in that situation where he's going to hit with men on base.

Q. Last time out Roger had a pretty big stage set up for him and he wasn't really able to perform as he would have liked. Tomorrow night do you think things will be different and if so, why?

JOE TORRE: I hope it is. I think Roger's stage in Fenway against Pedro was probably more than you could handle. I mean more than Roger can handle, more than I could handle. I thought it was a terrific stage, no question. It's unfortunate that, you know, he didn't pitch as well as he would have liked to. But I think Pedro was unfair with the year he had anyway, the psyche worked on everybody. I think tomorrow will be a special day for Roger. Coming to Yankee Stadium, in that Yankees' uniform, there will be a lot of emotion but there won't be a lot of baggage and I think that will help him probably focus a little better.

Q. What's the emotional content of this World Series for you as compared to the last one when the emotional content was your brother? This is -- you had a long year.

JOE TORRE: That was two World Series ago, I'm happy to report. That was '96. It's been an emotional year. I can tell you in March, baseball, much less the World Series, was the furthest thing away from my mind at that point in time. I think I focused more on my little girl because I wanted to -- you hear the word cancer and it scares you. You think of death. I wanted to be around more for her than to do this. And I started feeling better and got my stamina back, and everything seems to be fine. So now it's just as important as it was, except that I think I smell and feel everything more so than I did in the past. It's just that I appreciate every single day and I'm able to let go of a lot of stressful things a little bit quicker. But it means a great deal, because after last year, I think everybody was trying to compare our team this year to last year's team and there's no way we could have lived up to that record-wise to come into the post-season as ready as we did is very satisfying for me.

Q. Is there any way for you or Mel to discern how Roger is going into this start?

JOE TORRE: We always speak to our players. We don't just ignore them. I think he's fine. I'm just kidding. I think he's fine. You know, you try not to peak too soon. It's an exciting clubhouse in there right now. Andy Pettitte is trying to find his corner where he can be away from everything and get his focus going. Roger, I'm sure, is anticipating tomorrow, and, again, when they have to wait to start more than their normal four days, they find ways to do the workout room, to do the throwing, and it worked for Roger when he pitched against Texas. I thought that was an important start for him. I think his frame of mind is good, and hopefully he comes out here tomorrow just throwing strikes because that's basically been the problem when he's had a problem, is that he falls behind in count and then it takes away from the intimidation factor when he does.

Q. These games are running down. It looks as if it's possible next year's Yankee team will be different than this one. Do you feel yourself, some part of yourself watching these games in a special way, watching this Yankee team play out this run?

JOE TORRE: I really don't, because if I start thinking along those lines you get emotional and you're really not allowed to do that right now. You know, my philosophy, and I think the philosophy of our players, is to enjoy what you have when you have it and right now, it's in the present. And I try to think in the present; the players have done a hell of job of doing it. I've watched some interviews over the last few days about a 2-0 lead, you guys are talking about parades. All this stuff is so premature. And every one of them has said the same thing in a different way, how respectful we are of the other team, right now, right now, right now. When it's all over with, if we don't have people back, it is going to be emotional. No question. Last year when we won the World Series, David Cone and Joe Girardi were a question mark. Turns out they found their way back here. I don't know how that happened. I'd like to think in those terms that if it comes to that time that we'll see them here next year along with Paul O'Neill.

Q. Of all of Rivera's attributes, is consistency the most remarkable?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think the fact of how hard he throws, how much command he has of his stuff is probably the thing that makes me feel good about him. I've had, you know, Lee Smith and John Wetteland and Tom Henke, sometimes you know, ball one, ball two, blah, blah, blah. He's so different from that type of reliever, and yet he has the ability to strike you out. But I think from last year to this year, he has learned to get people out without worrying about striking them out or needing to strike them out.

Q. What's Zimmer's status for next year?

JOE TORRE: Well, I hope he wants to come back. I think he does. We always address the coaches after the season's over when the smoke clears. Unfortunately, this season's been over either late October or early November for us. But I still think he's having fun and that's what he's going to base it on, is still having fun. I think he's going to have to have his knee fixed, but aside from that, I think he's still enjoying it.

End of FastScripts…

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