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October 17, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. In addition to keeping the ball low for Andy Pettitte, what do you feel is also most important for him tonight against this line-up in Fenway Park?

JOE TORRE: I think in any ballpark, you have to get ahead in the count. I think that's important. Getting the pitcher's count, which makes hitting a little bit tougher to do. But you'll usually know early with Andy. In Texas, even though he got behind some hitters, he had enough movement on the ball to be able to throw strike one after that. That's basically it. He just has to keep from being too fine, just like a lot of pitchers when they try not to encourage contact. Even though this ballpark is a hitter's park, you can't let that change what you have to do.

Q. Even though you guys are up 2-1, the offense hasn't exactly been clicking on all cylinders. Is this a concern for you at all?

JOE TORRE: This is pretty much what we do. (Laughing) Unfortunately. We're not a high-scoring team. That's why, you know, I've said for the last few years that we can't go toe-to-toe with teams when you talk about outscoring somebody. We're based on pitching. If we don't get a well-pitched ballgame like yesterday, you're lucky to win games like that. We can't expect to go out there and outscore people. Is it a concern? Sure, you'd like to score more runs. I guess we scored eight runs in the first game against Texas. After that, they were all low-scoring games, which I'm glad we get plenty of experience in those low-scoring games. It just makes for a bad stomach and palpitating hearts and all that stuff. But it's all based on how our approach is, how we do in the top of the order. Knoblauch's a big part of what we do offensively. If you get the leadoff hitter out and the next hitter out, it's a little easier going through the three, four, five guys.

Q. How concerned are you about Knoblauch offensively and Posada offensively and defensively?

JOE TORRE: That's what I'm saying. Knoblauch we rely on him offensively. That's part of the package. He's going to make some errors. He made a lot of errors early this year with the throwings. Every time he makes one, that flag goes up for people to ask the question. He's not allowed to make the error now, like a lot of people are allowed to make an error. Jeter made an error, I guess it was in Game 1, nobody said anything other than, "He made an error." Knoblauch, you have to understand, he's our leadoff hitter. Whatever we get with Knoblauch is what we get. As far as Posada, he's not playing. And it's tough to get into any kind of a groove offensively, for sure, like we got behind yesterday, I put him in the game because he's a better offensive player than Joey is at this point in time. But, again, I think he's like a lot of inexperienced players, you know, you get out there and you try to do too much every time up, instead of being patient, which you learn over the years.

Q. Just going back to last night for a moment, are you concerned at all about Roger and are you still confident in bringing him back for Game 7?

JOE TORRE: You're always concerned. The bad part about being a starting pitcher is you don't get a chance to get back out there until five days later. Sometimes that's good. When we get beat up like we did yesterday, it gives you a day or so to get the fog cleared out. Then you start thinking about your next start. When we set the pitching up, there's no reason for me to deviate from that. One and five, two and six, three and seven. That's the way we're approaching it. We're hoping we can win. We're going to go out there and work like crazy. But in the event there is a seventh game, my plan is still for Roger to pitch.

Q. Hernandez has shown a capacity to sort of get in trouble early and then get out of it and settle down. What is the -- what do you think it is about him that allows him to do that?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think the fact that you need to find your release point, your comfort zone, you know, the mounds are different when you warm up in the bullpen. There have been a lot of pitchers over the years, probably the most recent has been Glavine, who's had some first-inning miseries, probably more so four or five years ago than now. It's just a matter of just getting comfortable out there and trying to find out what the strike zone is, too. You know, and that's -- that changes your approach as a pitcher, especially with El Duque, where he has so many different things he can do. He give us so many different looks. I think he just sort of has to feel his way to see what his approach is going to be that particular day.

Q. Can you talk about how your team reacts to losing? Do they react to it individually, in unique ways or as a team?

JOE TORRE: Yesterday was unusual. Normally it's quiet in the clubhouse after we lose. Yesterday we weren't jovial by any stretch of the imagination. It was like, "We lost, we got beat up, put it behind us." I think that's the only way good clubs can manage, is to be able to handle losing and be able to turn the page. Because baseball is unique as opposed to other sports where one loss means, you know, more than it does -- I mean more than other sports as it does in our sport. However, we're in a seven-game series. We've done pretty well as far as being able to come back with a fresh approach the next day. And as individuals, I go around, like today I did, I go around in the locker room, in the trainer's room and talk to different people, just sort of get a sense of what the conversation's like. You know, yesterday -- we were embarrassed what happened yesterday. So, you know, today, again, we're going to go out there and we need a well-pitched ballgame, and you'll see a different ballclub.

Q. Even though it's Game 4 tonight, do you still find a comfort zone knowing that Game 6 and 7 will be back at Yankee Stadium?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question that having the home-field advantage gives you that little bit of security knowing you're going back home. Let me make something clear here, I know I've said it before and other people have said it -- just like the Mets series, you know, you're down three games to none, but when you get in a short series, and every single one of these playoff teams, every one of these post-season teams have won three or four games in a row during the course of the year. This stuff can happen any time. So there's never any reason for oversecurity, I guess you can say, being too secure in having a lead. But, for sure, going back and changing where you're playing, especially if you're going from road to home, means a great deal. Because even though we've played well on the road during the course of the year, being home has really been a comfort zone for us.

Q. You talked about post games you've been in, the stats your pitching staff has had. Is that a lot of the reason why Girardi continues to go out there and why it makes it easier to leave him out there?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, having been a catcher and, I guess I was raised -- I was fortunate to come into the Milwaukee Braves organization, because my brother had played for them for five years or six years before I got there. And meeting Spahn and Burdette and Del Crandal and Del Rice (phonetic), and seeing, you know, I was fortunate to be reared on an experienced pitching staff where I was able to do that. Catching is a very important aspect of the game, especially when pitching is your strength. The thing that Joe Girardi gives you is the experience, not only in years, but the fact that he was with the Cubs in post-season, he was with Colorado in post-season. He's been with us, this is the fourth year. It's not a slam at Georgie, I know I've said that before. The only way you get experience is to play. But at this point in time he's been used to catching Andy, and he's had success with Coney. The Clemens thing, we've been going back and forth all year.. In normal conditions, this would be two and two for those guys. I'm not sure how we're going to approach the next go around, we'll keep Joe with Pettitte. Even though Joe's been successful with Pettitte, I think Andy's used to him catching.

Q. Did George give you any words of wisdom yesterday after the game?

JOE TORRE: George Steinbrenner is a winner. He wants a win. He's a very compassionate man when you do lose, I think he's a tougher taskmaster when you're winning to keep you from taking your eye off the finish line. When you lose, he's there to support you. The only thing, George, he couldn't wait till today to get this taste out of his mouth. That's basically the way we feel.

Q. El Duque was just in here talking about after what he went through in Cuba to facing a crowd like here is not a big deal. Is that a big weapon for him, or do we overplay just how these guys react to foreign environments?

JOE TORRE: You mean about the crowd?

Q. Yes.

JOE TORRE: There's no question. They're loud. And I think it's dynamite. It really makes the blood rush. You got to play in some of these ballparks where the only noise you make or the only noise you hear is the sound of the bat hitting the ball. But it's -- it's all perspective. If you come in here expecting it to be loud, it's not going to shock you. We went in 1996 into Texas and that was probably as loud up to that point that I had heard. It's just a matter of being able to focus on what you have to do, but there's no question in old ballparks like Fenway and Yankee Stadium, people are right on top of you. It's not like new ballparks where they're spread back and don't make as much of an impact. Again, it takes a little concentrating. Probably the team that has been down that road before has a better chance to pretty much ignore the, you know, the anti-Yankee stuff.

Q. Is that more specific to El Duque?

JOE TORRE: I think El Duque's perspective is so different. He pitched that game in Cleveland last year, and, you know, what's to scare him after leaving Cuba and having, you know, we really don't know what size boat he came over on. (Laughter.) But whatever it was, it's still the fact that he had to slide out of the country and hide somewhere and then be found and all this kind of stuff. It's not the way we got to the ballpark. I know that. (Laughter.) So for sure, this is just a game for him.

Q. Talk about the lack of production from the DH. Who is going to be the DH tonight and why?

JOE TORRE: You know, we haven't been hitting a whole lot. The DH, I've been interchanging these guys. Tonight it will be Darryl Strawberry. You know, I have no rhyme or reason, just a feel we try because Chili's struggling right now. Chili's a good guy to come off the bench because he can get ready for that one at-bat. Darryl's learning to do that. To me, Darryl's a force. The one thing Darryl gives you is the threat of a home run. And we may need a boom here tonight, and hopefully, you know, he can do that. The thing about it, you know, you look at the matchups. I don't think I have seen -- I don't think Darryl's ever faced Saberhagen, in my matchups, I don't find any at-bats. Chili's had decent success against him. But tonight, I've been pretty much going game-to-game with those guys and trying to give them both equal time because, you know, if somebody gets hot, then they stay in there. Right now, it's just a feel thing, and we're pretty much keeping it even.

Q. If you win two out of the next three games conceivably you're not going to see Martinez again in the series. Tonight if you win, you'll be in a 3-1 position, clearly in the driver's seat. Other than just being the next game, how important is this to your club.

JOE TORRE: Can you answer that? Can you repeat that? (Laughter.) Well, first of all, they're all important. You don't want a team to beat you two in a row. That adds to the momentum. The Yankees have won a lot of ball games. We've had to beat a lot of tough pitchers over the years. If we go into Game 7 and Pedro beats us in Game 7, believe me, we're at this point in Game 4, we're not dreading looking to Game 7. We're going to go and play what we have to play. If somebody beats us and they're better than we are, nice going. But, you know, we didn't get where we are and have been successful as we've been by fearing somebody in spite of how good they are. There's no question Pedro is dynamite.

End of FastScripts…

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