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October 19, 1998

Joe Torre

SAN DIEGO: Workout Day

Q. Joe, who are you going to start in left field tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: I don't know yet. It's not going to be Ledee, so take that one and run with it. But I haven't really zeroed in on anybody. There are a few candidates. You've got Raines and you've got Curtis and Spencer, and the outside chance, the wild card guy could be Chili Davis, because he threw his hat in the ring yesterday. But I'm going to have to give it a little more thought.

Q. Joe, compare '96 to this year, and in '96 you lost the first two games, now you've won the first two games, and there's a break. You're on a roll after you win the first two. Do you think there's an advantage to the team, like you were in '96, if you're going to lose the first two and you have that break, is that an advantage to the team that lost the first two?

JOE TORRE: Now, just to confuse matters, okay? '96 we didn't have a break. We were rained out the first game and they took that off day away from us. See you didn't have to go through that whole thing. I remember, because I remember trying to lobby to get a day from Bud Selig and it didn't work.

Q. What about it when you're on a roll?

JOE TORRE: Again, you understand that the day off is there, and that's why even if I try to call off a workout like I did in Cleveland and guys come to me and they want to hit, I don't think this time of year it really matters, because it's sort of all in what you do, and you're going to have a day off and it's going to come down to the pitchers, and the pitchers are used to having breaks in their appearances and from everything that's happened in this postseason and even during the season has really been based on how well we've pitched. So hopefully -- and we sent David Cone out ahead of us last night, which was a smart thing to do, because that was a long flight and a late hour to get in. We hope that he'll do well tomorrow.

Q. Joe, can you in some way handicap the left field thing, now, how you're at least approaching it and is Chili Davis more likely a guy, if you're not getting production out of left field can play Game 4 and 5 and is likely out tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: I think probably, right. As far as the rest of it, this is the National League now, and you have to pay a lot more attention when you manage and go into I think so, pinch hitting. I know a manager situation, ideal situation is to have a Chili Davis or a Tim Raines, for that matter, on the bench just in the event the other manager is thinking of changing pitchers, we have a switch-hitter, which keeps you from using up a lot of people in the National League situation, because you don't want to run out. Yeah, I think that's realistic to say that.

Q. Joe, could you talk about how you changed as a manager since the days of the Mets and how the players have changed in terms of how you have to deal with them?

JOE TORRE: When I started with the Mets, I had basically the same approach. I think the thing that's happened from the late '70's until now is obviously more experience, and I think when you get more experience you may have more attention paid to you from the players. Players from then until now are more celebrity than athlete. When we played baseball even before I managed, we were baseball players, and that was it. Now they make a lot of money, every single move they make is -- there's something said or written about it. I think they're under a lot more pressure. And again, they take on more of a celebrity status now. But to me it's still the same -- you still have to do the same things to be successful, and that's basically go out there and play baseball and try and be as unselfish as you can.

Q. Do you have a preference National League, American League, just from a manager's vantage point, and as far as usual pitchers hitting, do you expect anything from them or just be happy if they don't get hurt?

JOE TORRE: Well, David Cone, you know how you try to approach things from the positive end, well, David Cone is -- sure I picked him for Game 3 because of his bat. And as far as managing American or National, I like -- I don't like the designated hitter. I think if I was a fan and sitting in your position, I think there's so much more going on when you have to make decisions and you make the wrong one because it doesn't work, and you have to take a pitcher out in the 6th inning when the bases are loaded when you don't want to necessarily take him out. As a manager with the DH it's a lot less complicated, where you don't have to make those tough decisions, but as a baseball fan, I think I'd rather not have the DH.

Q. Joe, what was your highest salary as a player?

JOE TORRE: $150,000.

Q. Joe, Shane Spencer had a great September, then he practically won the Division Series for you, then he had a couple of bad games and you've taken him out of the line-up, is it because of his defensive ability he's not playing anymore?

JOE TORRE: We didn't do a lot holding in September, but what he did in the Division Series, he helped us win, for sure, a big part of that. No, I don't think he's bad defensively. I think he's probably average, maybe in certain situations a little above. The only thing that keeps him from being maybe just slightly above average is lack of speed. But he's aggressive in the outfield. No, I took him out of the line-up because it looked like he was feeling for it. Again, if you're talking about regular season, he probably stays in the line-up, but in postseason you really don't have that type of luxury to sit with somebody to hope they break out of a slump, because of what everything represents here. And since I have a place to go, with a Curtis or a Raines, there's no reason to sit and wait for somebody to get better, basically. But he's definitely in the mix for tomorrow.

Q. Does it mean anything to you that he's from here and he's dying to play?

JOE TORRE: Don't tell me those things. No, it doesn't. I can't let that influence me, at all. With television, you're from everywhere and everybody will get a chance to see you. I have to think what I need to do to help us win tomorrow, and hopefully I'll make the right decision.

Q. Realistically what do you expect from your pitchers as hitters?

JOE TORRE: Again, I hope I'm not faced with the situation where I have to pinch hit or have to make that decision. I just hope it's always a bunt situation, and for the most part, make a last out of an inning. You really can't expect much out of a pitcher. You hope if it's a bunt situation, whether it be none or one out, that we're able to get a runner on second base. We've been working on that over the last probably month. That's basically all I expect from my pitchers is to be able to lay down a bunt.

Q. Did you have a chance to see Hitchcock pitch at all during the National League Playoffs and if so, an assessment and is he comparable to anybody you faced this year?

JOE TORRE: Well, left-handers to me, you know, you don't have to throw them all 90 miles an hour to be successful. I think Glavine and Neagle and Jimmy Key have proven that over the years. What I noticed in Sterling Hitchcock is his command seems to be better than what I remember, even though I didn't manage him, but we still played against him when he was with Seattle, and he just seems to have a lot more command of his stuff. And I was very impressed what he did in postseason, looked like he could throw a number of pitches for strikes, but he was getting ahead in the count, and I think that is important for any pitcher to be able to do.

Q. Given that Spencer is from San Diego and is a rookie, would it be beneficial for him not to know that he was going to play the day of the game?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think if it was the fact that he hadn't played before in postseason, yeah, that's probably true. And I think the fact -- and I will advise, if I don't tell them before they leave today, if I still don't know, I'll sort of tell them all to come expecting to play tomorrow. So he'll have that in mind, because I will let him know he's one of the people I'm considering.

Q. Joe, you've got some very good pitchers, but when David Cone goes out there does he bring something a little extra special to the game?

JOE TORRE: Oh, I think so. To me he's been a spiritual guy for us from the time he was hurt in '96, went through surgery, came back and pitched Game 3 of the World Series. I trust him. I've been second guessed for trusting, but I can't help that. You get involved with these guys, and when you know someone has pitched big games and the way he has approached big games and the fact that he -- you can trust somebody. I don't think there's a better word to describe my feeling for David Cone than trust. And again, he may be able to talk me into something, and he takes advantage of that trust at times, but I'll live with that. Because I know there are times that he'll say he's okay, and I want to believe him. But I think that also makes him say, well, since I made that commitment I've got to do this, and there's something he can call on that a lot of other people can't.

Q. Joe, do you think you're at a disadvantage without the DH here, especially because of how well Chili has been doing, and should we assume that Martinez, whoever you play in place of Martinez -- whoever you play that no matter what happens he'll continue to bat 6th?

JOE TORRE: If Chili is in left field, yeah, he'll bat 6th. But if anyone else is playing left field, I think I may move him up. Again, I haven't really committed to that. It doesn't really concern me when he's swinging the bat well. And right now I think he's swinging very relaxed.

Q. How about the disadvantage without the DH?

JOE TORRE: Well, as I say, without the DH you have to pay a lot more attention. You've got to be aware of double switches. Again, you have that situation that haunts a lot of National League managers of let's get through this inning because this pitcher is the third hitter, I'm sure that has haunted a lot of managers, and maybe cost a run or two, if you're trying to get someone through the end of an inning, so you don't have to burn a pitcher or another hitter. So as I say, it's a much better game for the fan, without the DH, but it's nice managing in the American League where you don't have to make those tough decisions.

Q. You said before that David Cone has been a spiritual guy for us. Could you elaborate on that?

JOE TORRE: Well, it goes back to '96. We signed him as a free agent, he had been with the Yankees the year before. And he's a guy that's going to pitch the big game. And when he was not with us, and I remember I was talking with Don Zimmer in Spring Training, when I didn't necessarily like what I saw, David Cone, what he was doing, but he doesn't normally pick up a ball all winter, and you're not going to see anything that knocks your eye out. And I remember Zimmer saying to me in '96, if we have to worry about David Cone, we're screwed, basically anyway. As it turned out he had the circulation problem, missed the start, came back, pitched well, and he had to have the surgery for the aneurysm. Doc Gooden stepped up, but we missed David Cone, and the fact that he just showed up at the ballpark after he had the surgery, it just seemed to lift everybody up at that time, just his presence. So to me at that point in time I realized, even though I felt before -- that he meant more than just giving him a ball and throwing a hundred plus pitches.

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