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October 17, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. How much communication do you have with El Duque and how does that get done on the team?

JOE TORRE: Well, it gets done. Jose Cardinal, basically, is our interpreter for El Duque, although El Duque is very aware and understands more and more all the time. But I always make sure that when I have to talk to him or Mel has to talk to him that Jose is around.

Q. Is there any sort of update on Andy's situation?

JOE TORRE: Well, his dad came through the surgery fine. And we just keep our fingers crossed. I know Andy hasn't had much sleep here in the last couple of days, but everything seems to be going well right now. And, again, he's scheduled to pitch Game 4.

Q. Joe, could you talk about Brian Cashman's role in the organization, his contributions to the way -- where the team is right now?

JOE TORRE: Brian Cashman, you know, he to me is a very strong individual. I know I made -- somewhat I made a comparison with Cashman and Dal Maxville when I worked for him in St. Louis. Very tough people. Of course Brian doesn't have the knowledge of the game of baseball that Dal has, but the fact that he doesn't try to admit or pretend he does, I think, goes a long way. To people really respecting what he does. He's tough. He gives his opinion, and he does a good job for me. He comes down and constantly talks to me. I know that, you know, like all general managers, he talks more to George than I do, and, you know, he gets it on a daily basis. And, again, will get to me what he feels that I have to be aware of.

Q. Joe, I had read or heard somewhere that El Duque expected to pitch the first game of the Cleveland series. You all had to explain that to him. Could you go over that a little bit.

JOE TORRE: Well, that was more of a joke type of thing, he anticipated being the next pitcher since the first three pitchers had pitched already. It never was any kind of startling revelation to him that he wasn't going to pitch, but that was his mindset. Again, I get that through other people and Coney sort of mentioned it, but it became more of a joke more than anything else. When we called him in and explained, he shook his head understanding.

Q. Was there one conversation between Jose and El Duque in which Jose said, No, this is the way it works.

JOE TORRE: You know, I'm not sure. I'm sure Jose said it to him. It was more of, you know, their daily conversations, casual chat type, like maybe before Game 3 that said he was going to pitch if it's not tomorrow, the next game they play. That's when Jose came to me with that smile on his face saying go ahead and straighten this out. I said okay.

Q. Joe, is David a better teammate now than he used to be?

JOE TORRE: Only if you like his music. I think a year of settling in has helped a lot of guys understand David and understand the package that he delivers to you. You know, he's -- he marches to a little bit different drummer, of course that's what probably sets him apart a little bit in the way he does things. Leaves absolutely nothing in the bag when he goes out and plays. He's an aggressive guy. Again, you'll see a lot of body language when he pitches because that's him. He doesn't try to hide anything. He wears his heart on his sleeve. But as far as a better teammate, I think it's the fact that guys understand him a little bit better now than they did when he first came in here.

Q. Your leftfielders were combined I think 122 in the ALCS, would you go over your decision to start Ricky again tonight.

JOE TORRE: Well, nobody comes to mind when I say leftfield. I mean they're all, you know, positives and pluses for different reasons. But with Ricky, he played Game 6, I think we sort of got the butterflies out there. Played well defensively in Game 6. That's what we're looking for tonight. If there was someone who was swinging a bat really well, I may forego the defensive end of it. But as long as we're all trying to find the one leftfielder, I might as well go to defense in my mind, and a left-handed hitter against Kevin. So that's basically what we're doing. With the makeup of our bench, you know, if I see something in the fifth inning or sixth inning, if I want to make a change, I can do that with a Raines, a Spencer, a Curtis and still have a Curtis out there defensively. Hopefully Ledee can get a base hit or two and sort of settle in. He's definitely capable, you know, Spencer, there's a lot of talk about Spencer starting in a Division Series, and once he got in there, hit a couple of homeruns. Ricky had as many, if not more, at-bats than he did during the season.

Q. Joe, aside from the actual pitching that he did, what did El Duque show you in Cleveland and do you think this stage being one step higher will affect him at all?

JOE TORRE: Well, to me, he showed me a terrific calm, which at that point in time, when you're down two games to one playing on the road, was something we needed. He allowed his ability to take over, and I don't anticipate any change tomorrow. Again, not saying he's going to win, but I know the approach he has. I'm going to feel comfortable with the approach he has. The World Series, I mentioned, I just talked to Bruce Bochy on the field. What you have to go through to get here is so tense that when you get here, you're going to enjoy the experience. It's not saying you're not going to go out there and bust your tail to win, but getting here is really what you set your sights on in spring training.

Q. Joe, with that in mind, what asset is Don to you on the bench, the fact that he wears number 50, signifying 50 years, what does that mean having him on the bench?

JOE TORRE: Let's put it this way. I hope he does go after Bernie's number next year, which means he's going to stay with me. Yet I hope he doesn't get Bernie's number for a lot of reasons. Don Zimmer is someone I trust, shoots from the hip all the time, will tell you things even though you may not agree with him; he offers suggestions all the time. Since coming over here a couple years ago, we have become very, very close and understanding of each other. The fact that he's been in New York twice as a coach, has managed four different teams in both leagues, has been down this road many times before, gives me a security blanket. Really. When you talk about things that you do, managers make decisions, it's nice to have someone there that you can bang them off of. He gives me every bit of that.

Q. Joe, would it be a fair comparison to compare El Duque to Juan Marichal?

JOE TORRE: I did that when he first came up. The only comparison I guess you could make is the fact they throw from so many different positions and have pretty good -- not pretty good, very good command of their stuff. Marichal was probably more exotic in the number of pitches he was able to throw from different positions, different release points. But that's close. That's close. Because of the competitiveness, some time the ability to experiment and the fact that, you know, they pitch equally well. They're both left handers and right handers. I think that's a close comparison.

Q. Joe, when Cone was healthy the last couple of years, he was looked at as the team's ace. Would you say that Wells has earned that title now?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, they're leaders for different reasons. Obviously David has done it because of his consistent performance all year and the fact that he's probably the strongest of anybody physically on this pitching roster right now. And I think that's why he gets Game 1, because of his physical ability, plus what he has done in postseason play. David Cone will always be a big part of the emotional and calming influence on the ballclub because of his experience and his demeanor and his heart. So I think they can share that stage, but, again, they're leaders for different reasons.

Q. Joe, what will your emotions be in the moments leading up to the first pitch?

JOE TORRE: Well, two years ago, Yogi Berra called me and said you'll never forget the experience of running out to first base when they introduce you in Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium. It was something I continue to remember and cherish and looking forward to doing again. Yogi called me yesterday -- day before yesterday, and I reminded him what he told me. It was just a nice call from Yogi that made me feel good, the experience is wonderful. I look forward to it. It's going to be exciting. I was nervous as a cat in the first two stages of this postseason. For some reason today, I have a great deal of calm about me. I feel good, and I think it's the fact that you want to get here. Again, you don't want to win it any less than you wanted to win the last two, but getting here is important. Because the loser of this series -- whether you win or lose in this series, there's no more baseball when it's over. You don't have to torture yourself by watching somebody else do what you want to do.

Q. El Duque throws from all these angles. Is what he's doing more significant than what he's actually throwing? Placement rather than stuff, poise rather than whatever else? Beyond a rookie's expectations.

JOE TORRE: I know what you're talking about. It's always going to be location, you know, real estate or pitching. There are very few pitchers that can just say here's the ball, hit it, and be able to get away with it. El Duque's command of his stuff is probably more impressive than his stuff itself. Even though because he throws so many different pitches, his fastball appears faster, and because of his location, you know, everything else appears much better. So he depends a lot more on the ability to pick apart the strike zone than just rearing back and throwing the ball. Of course his calm and his confidence is all part of it. If you say to yourself -- I remember Lou Burdette telling a pitcher a long time ago, the pitcher said I can't throw the ball here to this hitter. He said you never think of something in terms of can't do something, you think I'm going to put the ball here, I'm going to throw the ball here. I think El Duque has that type of confidence in what he does.

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