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October 18, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. I'm wondering if could you just tell us what you were thinking about when Knoblauch got up in the 7th inning, did you dare to think that he would hit one out?

JOE TORRE: Well, we hate to think about Knoblauch hitting home runs because it usually gets him out of his game. Of course you love it when he does it. It's one of those catch-22 situations, I thought that he had a home run in mind when he was facing Kevin Brown earlier with the two men on base and he swung and missed the 3-2 pitch, a little bit too big of a swing. But again, if you are not going to do the right thing at least do the right thing. That is basically what happened there.

Q. After your hesitancy to go with Rivera earlier than the 9th inning, now you seem more comfortable doing that. Is it confidence?

JOE TORRE: I think a big part of it is that he hasn't been overused and we feel good about it. Last thing we want to do is put strain on him, but I think this season has been pretty good. Number of wins we had, the way we have won where he really didn't need a closer as often as we had in the past enabled us to do it now. Three days since he pitched -- tomorrow is an off day, all of those things come into play.

Q. There has been some speculation that Chili Davis might play first base in some of the games in San Diego. Could you clarify that one way or the other?

JOE TORRE: Someone asked me about what are you going to do with Chili Davis when you get in the National League park. Will he play the outfield? Well, at that time I said, "No, he probably is more apt to play first base if he plays anywhere." All of a sudden I see where he is going to play first base. That is not what I meant, you know, I said it. But I didn't mean it that way. However, we talked before -- during batting practice today and he has been working in the outfield with Jose and that is not out of the realm of possibility that he is liable to play leftfield.

Q. But not first?

JOE TORRE: Not -- he could play first if I felt that, you know, if I had to make a double switch, or something like that. But, no, I anticipate Tino playing all the games there.

Q. You have had some big game pitchers who were your pitching coaches in Gibson and Stottlemyre, Padres have one in Stewart. Why is a guy like that important on developing young pitchers?

JOE TORRE: That is a good question. That is a real good question, because I think it so important that we don't get caught up -- and I think we do get caught up in mechanical stuff so often. I think pitchers like a Stewart, like a Gibson, like a Stottlemyre, tell you how it feels as opposed to what it looks like. It is so important to have an attitude when you pitch, or hit for that matter, and play this game, that guys who have had success, who have been in postseason play, who know what it takes to get to that next level, to be able to impart that to the kids, or the veterans for that matter, is really -- is really a plus in my mind.

Q. Given David Cone's success with dropping down three-quarters and side arm, why do you think more pitchers don't do that?

JOE TORRE: I think they do. They are not all capable of doing that. I know Irabu tried that when he watched David and it seemed so easy for him to do it then we had trouble getting him back to where he would pop the ball. Certain places -- very few people that can have a number of release points and be successful and have command. That is basically what it is all about, to be able to have command of your pitches when you throw from a number of different places. There is just, I think just a number -- just a few people that can do that. Marichal used to be able to do that. Hernandez, El Duque can do it. But it is not that easy. You noticed last night, Wells will lay down there every once in a while and throw one side-arm, but again, it doesn't look as comfortable for him to do that as it does for a Cone or for a Hernandez.

Q. As dominant as Rivera has been during his career, is he even better now because he is more of a complete pitcher?

JOE TORRE: It is tough to think he could have been better -- could be better than he was in 1996, pitching the 6th and 7th inning. He made managing a lot easier than it should be. I only had to manage for 6 innings then I put him in the game. But right now I think he has more of a variety of stuff right now. And of course the confidence of becoming a closer last year during -- they had a little bit of a learning process and knowing again what we are talking about, how it is supposed to feel as opposed to what you do, that this year he is -- you know, he is one of the best right now in my mind.

Q. What did you learn from being in the series two years ago that has helped you this time around?

JOE TORRE: I think you still have to understand it is baseball. It is still a game and -- you make moves maybe quicker but you still have to manage it like it is a regular baseball game and not to put too much emphasis on the result, what happens if you lose and stuff like that. It is tougher to do, but I think it is easier now that you have had the experience that went through a couple years ago. Postseason play is different because your patience level maybe isn't there because you don't have the time to let somebody straighten themselves out. It is a lot easier for me this year because I have a number of people that I can go to in the bullpen or as starters that makes it a little bit easier. But you have to really remind yourself that it is still a game, and that you have to play to win.

Q. Do you look back and think you weren't patient enough with certain moves two years ago?

JOE TORRE: No, I wasn't patient and I didn't want to be. There were certain situations you had to make a move right now and we did a couple of times with Kenny Rogers and lucked out. I mean, making -- doing things. But -- Zimmer and I talked a lot about that two years ago, understanding you better get somebody up and at that time I realized and the light went on that, yeah, I guess so. We don't think down the road like this guy is pitching next Friday or stuff like that. You win today. Today -- you use everybody you can today to win today. That is your mentality.

Q. Because Ledee had been your top young outfield prospect for so long, did you notice down the stretch how he handled maybe kind of getting passed by by Shane a little bit and left off the roster and all of a sudden --

JOE TORRE: I think it bothered him. It bothered him in spring training when he didn't really in his mind get a legitimate shot at making the club and we explained it to him a number of times that he couldn't because we had too many people for that position and he wasn't going to be able to. We had Curtis, Raines, of course we had Chili Davis and Strawberry, so it was just too crowded for him. He came up and I sensed a little disappointment when even though he understood that that is the way it is going to be when we picked Shane to go to postseason and we sent him to Florida for the mini camp to stay ready in case we needed somebody. But obviously yesterday and the last game against Cleveland has gone a long way to feeling pretty good about himself.

Q. Have you ever had players thank you for putting them in the lineup?

JOE TORRE: Yeah. And I have thanked players for being in the line-up too (Laughter.)

Q. The left side of your infield has been virtually air tight. Can you talk about what makes Brosius and Jeter so special?

JOE TORRE: (Knocking on wood.) Well, I think Brosius is a big part of that because he allows Jeter to cheat up the middle maybe a little bit more because he covers so much ground at third base, they are both outstanding at what they do. And then we don't know how good Jeter is going to be because he is improving all the time. He is getting better going to his right, going to his left. He had some problems but he seems to be improving there. He is very coachable. But I think Brosius has given Derek maybe a little less ground to cover.

Q. As the series continues, how will you decide Ledee's role?

JOE TORRE: Well, again it is going to be what I see. It is going to be on a day-to-day proposition on who I think should be the leftfielder and we are going to be facing Hitchcock on Tuesday and that is going to open up a whole new choice for me now that Chili has thrown his hat in the ring too. Just pretty much how we want to go about it. At this point in time I really do not know which way I am going to go at this point. In all likelihood, it won't be Ledee. He did play against lefthanders all season but I think with the number of right-handers I have to choose from it will probably be one of the right-handers.

Q. Given Hernandez's background, have you seen him come close to being rattled by anything baseball or non-baseball?

JOE TORRE: He get -- he will get upset when you take him out of the game. But that is not rattled. He is just very surprised when he has to come out, especially the first time. But that game he pitched against Cleveland in Cleveland really set a standard for what I expect right now. He is not going to pitch a more important game in my mind than that particular game and he did it with such calm that I was very, very impressed. And, again, I know he has mentioned it a couple of times that if you have gone through over the last twelve months or so what he has gone through, it is just a game to him.

Q. Knowing Sterling Hitchcock as you do, are you kind of surprised that he has been such a good big game pitcher -- also your perspective of what problems he is going to pose to your line-up?

JOE TORRE: Well, I didn't know Sterling Hitchcock. I didn't manage him because he was traded during the off-season when we got Tino. But again, that is what we are talking about before with Dave Stewart's influence. I think that is a big part of why he has been successful. He is very aggressive right now. He stays down, moves the ball around, throws a good curve ball. And again, it is going to be command and control and getting ahead of the hitters and if he can get ahead of the hitters, he can get you out a number of ways, that is what we are going to have to, you know, wait and see. We have a patient ballclub. We were patient last night; that has been pretty much what we do, so, we are going to have to wait and see. But he, no question, has a lot of success in postseason which will give him a lot of confidence.

Q. Depending on what happens over the next couple of days, tonight's game could be the last appearance at Yankee Stadium of the 1998 Yankees. Would you reflect on that a little bit?

JOE TORRE: Well, I am not allowed to do that. But it would be, and especially in Bernie's case, where he may not be back and I am not sure at least I hope he doesn't know for sure which way he is going right now. We would love to have him back. These fans have been great. It has been a great ballpark for us. We won a lot of games here. And the fans have been wonderful. We drew close to 3 million and they have been, you know, a big support for us and possibly at times are intimidated the other team. But we are going to miss it. We are very comfortable coming home. We love being back in New York and we have played very well here. But I think the big part of the emotion here is knowing that whatever happens this week, if we go on to win the World Series and don't come back here, just the fact that you are not going to see everybody back -- I mean, that is just what happens -- is going to be an emotional -- an emotional thing for all of us to deal with.

End of FastScripts…

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