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July 8, 2002
THE MODERATOR: Good morning, it's my pleasure to host this press conference this morning. We'd like to welcome everybody to Milwaukee, if you have not already been welcomed. Hope you have a great time while you're in our city. A couple of announcements before the press conference. The National League and American League player availabilities will be across the street at the Pfister Hotel on the seventh floor. National League availability will begin at 12:00 and ends at 1 PM. American League will begin at 1:15 and last until 2:15. Clubhouses are closed today prior to the home run derby. Media will be allowed on field from 5:00 PM until 6 PM today. Lastly, you are invited to attend a couple of special media events tomorrow at the John Hancock All-Star Fan Fest in the morning. 10 o'clock Major League Baseball will announce the "30 moments" on the fan ballot when MasterCard presents the Major League Baseball memorable moments program. Commissioner Selig and many other players who participated in the "30 moments" will be available and in attendance. There will be media availability with the memorable moments following the press conference tomorrow. At noon, Commissioner Selig will hold a special town meeting on MLB.com followed by a media question-and-answer. Media are encouraged to attend and you may submit your questions for the Commissioner during the town hall meeting. Both events will take place at the Midwest events center. For those announcements out of the way we'd like to get our press conference started. We will introduce our honorary captains, Ozzie Smith from the National League and Robin Yount from the American League. We'll begin with remarks from they with Wizard of Oz.
OZZIE SMITH: Well, welcome everybody. I'm very honored and happy to be the honorary captain. I think it's a very special honor, and I couldn't be happier.
ROBIN YOUNT: Well, it's also an honor for me to be here, although, a bit unusual circumstances with our guys over on that side and I'm over here with Joe. But I'm looking forward to it. It's certainly a thrill to come back to Milwaukee and be part of the All-Star Game.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to now introduce the honorary National League president, Bill Giles from the National League.
BILL GILES: It's my honor to introduce former broadcaster, former player and the manager of the world champion Arizona Diamondbacks and the manager of the National League All-Star Team, Mr. Bob Brenly.
BOB BRENLY: Thank you, Bill. I think it's an honor for all of us to be here, so I echo those sentiments. We are looking forward to the festivities this afternoon, as well as the game tomorrow. With any luck at all, the National League is going to reverse the recent trend of the victors in this game. At this time we'll introduce the starting lineup. Obviously, very tough picking a starting lineup with as many talented players that were available. Thank God the fans voted for them. As you can see, Jose Vidro will be leading off playing second, Todd Helton will bat second and play first base. Barry Bonds, the left fielder will bat third. Sammy Sosa is in right field batting fourth. Vladimir Guerrero playing centerfield, Mike Piazza will be the catcher for the National League team, Scott Rolen, third baseman from the Phillies and Jimmy Rollins the shortstop from the Phillies, and Curt will be the starting pitcher.
THE MODERATOR: Comments on starting for the National League?
CURT SCHILLING: Glad to be awake. Obviously it's an honor, just as much today as it was the first time, being in one of these games. I've come to realize -- I heard a comment yesterday, the time between an All-Star Game and old timer's game happens in the blink of an eye. Appreciate getting a chance to be around people like Ozzie, who I competed against, so I am getting older. It's a lot of fun. It's an honor, a privilege and it's a lot of fun to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Shift over to the American League side and honorary league president for the American League, Jackie Autry.
JACKIE AUTRY: Well, I can't believe how short of an introduction as my associate did because I've got a man sitting here to my right who is probably the best, if not the best manager I've ever known in baseball. He's managing his fifth All-Star squad for baseball. He's got the Yankees to their fifth American League crown in six years. In the All-Star Games he has a 4-0 record, which I think is outstanding. His post-season is 56-22. Established a new Major League record for managers with 14 straight wins in the World Series from 1996 to 2000. Joe is a nine-time All-Star player. He was the MVP for the National League in 1971, and he also holds a Gold Glove that he earned in 1965. Now, he is also probably the best broadcaster in baseball, as well. Because he used to work for the California Angels, I'd like to introduce my friend and the best manager in baseball, and who is going to win this year and beat the National League one more time, Joe Torre.
JOE TORRE: Thank you, Jackie. I leave George Steinbrenner and I come to you putting the pressure on me. (Laughter.) No question, it is a thrill to be here, and it never gets old. As Curt said, it's no less an honor because you've been here before. I know I've been -- someone asked me last week about the criticism that managers get, and I'm sure Bob has experienced that and just scratched his head because everybody who makes suggestions on who should be on the team, they are all right. There are so many players that are worthy of being on an All-Star Team, and I was also asked, is it worth it? I said, yes, about two or three more times would be wonderful to have this opportunity to get criticized, because that means you were in the World Series the year before, so I'll take my chances. My starting lineup, leading off is Ichiro Suzuki in right field. Third base, Shea Hillenbrand. Shortstop, Alex Rodriguez. Jason Giambi will bat cleanup and play first base. Manny Ramirez in left field will bat fifth. Jorge Posada will catch and bat sixth; that's a first -- it's not a first-time All-Star appearance for him, but it's a first-time start, and you can understand with Pudge Rodriguez in the American League. First time starter Tori Hunter playing centerfield and another first timer, at second base, Alfonso Soriano. And not a first time All-Star but a first-time starter, he was here as a reliever before, Derek Lowe.
DEREK LOWE: Thank you very much. Again, it's a tremendous honor to be here. I was here two years ago as a reliever, and this team, I came in here with no expectations. To be here, starting an All-Star Game is more than I could have anticipated, coming into the year and looking at that lineup, it's going to be tough but a great challenge. Again, I'm just very pleased to be here.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to open it up for questions.
Q. For both managers, how long are you planning on going with your starting pitchers tomorrow?
JOE TORRE: For me, my starting pitching will go two innings, which means that if we have a good first or second inning, you're hitting, pal. (Laughter.)
BOB BRENLY: Pretty much the same here. Normally when I send Curt out there, it's to go nine innings, and he makes no doubt about letting me know that. But for tomorrow, we'll go two innings, tops.
Q. Bob, with Matt Morris passing on the game would you consider Albert Pujols as a replacement for him?
BOB BRENLY: Absolutely, he's having an exceptional season there in St. Louis, but we felt very comfortable going with a ten-man pitching staff. So when Matt Morris bowed out, we felt it was best to replace him with another pitcher, especially since Matt was another starter. This is my first go-around with these All-Star Games, but I have to believe you have to save somebody who can eat up innings late in the ballgame in case we go extra.
Q. If Pedro had been available, if he had not been pulled out, how much tougher would your decision have been?
JOE TORRE: Oh, that's tough, there's no question. Pedro Martinez, this in my opinion, is up there as one of the best pitchers in baseball. But again, I'm sure Derek would understand, if we decided to go with Pedro because of what he's done in the past. I think this is a great game to honor people, but again, I'm not sure I would have done that. It sure would have been very difficult to not consider seriously Pedro. I'm glad I didn't have to make that decision or that choice.
Q. Joe, is there any special meaning for you, being able to manage the All-Star Game in Milwaukee, where you started your career?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, no question. My wife and my six-year-old daughter, I was telling them this, where I had my first at bat, played my first game. It is exciting. I go back, and it doesn't seem like longer than yesterday when you realize it was 1960 when I had my first at bat. It was pretty incredible for me. Yeah, it's a special meaning for me to be here, especially having my brother Frank in town, also, who enjoyed the World Series years in 1957 and 1958.
Q. This question is for Curt and Derek. Is your enthusiasm for today and tomorrow tempered by what's going on tonight in Chicago?
CURT SCHILLING: No. Not at all.
DEREK LOWE: Same answer. (Laughter.)
Q. It doesn't weigh on your mind a little bit?
CURT SCHILLING: No.
DEREK LOWE: Same. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Strike two.
Q. For the two current players, the two starting pitchers, what do you think about the possibility of a strike, and how do you think the fans will react to a strike, considering the wealthy salaries that Major League players make now?
CURT SCHILLING: I'm hoping to throw strike one and start the game off with a strike. That's usually how I pitch. (Laughter.) I'm not going to answer questions about that. This is about the All-Star Game right now. Those questions are dealt with by people down in Chicago who know what they are doing. I'm going to enjoy the next 48 hours and the festivities. The city has waited a long time for this. I'm going to worry about that stuff when the time comes.
THE MODERATOR: Anything to add, Derek?
DEREK LOWE: No.
Q. Derek, where were you when you found out you were going to start, and what was your reaction?
DEREK LOWE: When we arrived last night we were told that, "You're starting the game," and Mr. Torre had chosen me. So that was the first time and I was really looking forward to getting the start because it's all a new experience.
Q. Joe, if there's another work stoppage, how damaging do you think it would be to the game of baseball?
JOE TORRE: Well, nobody wants to see a work stoppage. I think we had the damage done last time and I think we are over it now. I'd just like to believe both parties -- and I'm a firm believer in positive thinking, as opposed to some people who ask questions here today; that we are looking to play baseball. The fans, I think, had to endure a lot, but again, it's still important to understand that something has to be worked out, and it takes two parties to do that. So I don't even want to think in terms of having a work stoppage.
Q. How optimistic are you that something would be worked out?
JOE TORRE: I have to be optimistic. I believe when the time comes that both parties will find a way to get it done, and again, if somebody thinks I have my head in the sand, that's fine. I'm not going to concern myself -- first of all, I have no control over it, so I really have no work to do between now and then. But I'd like to believe that we all want the same thing, and that's to play baseball. It's just a matter of, as I say, two parties working together to try to attain that.
Q. Joe, could you just talk about your experiences as a player in the All-Star game and as a manager; and is it as competitive today as when you were in the National League playing?
JOE TORRE: Well, my experience, I'll never forget 1960. I was taken as a third catcher to go to Cleveland and play in an All-Star Game, walking into that clubhouse and looking up over the lockers, because it's a little more elaborate nowadays. At that time you had tape over the lockers, and you had Aaron, a teammate of mine, and Mays and Clemente and Koufax and Drysdale, it's pretty incredible. To me, it was a great experience for a kid who is 22, 23 years old at the time. And that's why when I sort of had a chance of everything being equal, I like to go with the first-timers. We have 14 first-timers on the squad this year, and it's just -- I know players make a lot of money and I know sometimes when you look at players, you don't think about the blood running through their bodies; it's just the dollar signs. But that's not even close to being true, when you see the excitement of playing a game, knowing that you are being honored as the best in all of baseball. Is it a little different? Yeah, well, it was more war-like I think when Bill Giles' dad used to give us the pep talk before the game, and about beating that American League team and this, that and the other thing. Trust me, these guys got here because they want to win very badly. So even though it's more of a friendly contest and more of an exhibition, when they get on the field and Curt is trying to get somebody out, and the hitters are trying to hit, nobody is giving any ground. It's still competitive, although I think going in, there's more socializing going on.
Q. Joe, do you take the fact that there's so many players 30 players on each team, and the possibility of trying to add more players; do you think having more people hurts the competition, trying to get everybody in?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think adding more players, I've been sort of lobbying for that, because with expansion and everything else, there are more people worthy of being here. Do I think it hurts the competition? No. Because they are all competitive. Again, I still think it's more important to have players enjoy the experience, experience being in a ballgame, than it is to winning it. Again, that doesn't mean you don't want to win, but it doesn't mean that I'm going to pitch my closer, one of the three or four that I have two innings just to make that happen. No. They are all going to pitch what you sort of schedule them to pitch, and each hitter is going to hit because I think it's all important that they all experience the All-Star Game, more so than wanting a certain person to hit with the bases loaded, as opposed to having somebody play the game.
BOB BRENLY: I feel the same way. As far as expanding roster, if you go to 35, 40, 50, I don't care what number you pick, there's going to be a group of guys right there after those 50 or 40 or 35 who certainly deserve to go, too. As far as expanding the roster, again, it's my first experience at this, but I think the more players you have, the tougher it's going to be to get them all in the game like Joe is talking about. That's the bottom line, we want the guys to experience what it means to compete on the field as an All-Star against the other best in baseball. And that may be harder to do if you add more players to the roster, unless you lengthen the game.
Q. Joe, bearing in mind the fact that you want to try to get the first-timers the chance to play, have you thought about which pitchers you are going to try to add to Derek's two?
JOE TORRE: I've been talking it over with my pitching coach, who is Rich Monteleone, and I'm not sure how it's going to work out yet. Holiday and Garcia, I have a few starters here, Burhle, but again I want to make sure that as Bob alluded to earlier, I have to save one guy for that extra-inning game, just in the event that happens. So you need to have somebody sitting in the weeds there at the end. But I have not really made a plan, other than probably looking to have one other starter pitch two innings. Otherwise, it will be one for everybody, and maybe in Barry Zito's case, maybe just a piece of one.
Q. Joe, just curious, which pitching staff has more pure talent, the American League All-Star Team or the New York Yankees?
JOE TORRE: I'll plead the fifth like Derek over here. (Laughter.)
Q. Curt, last year you had a colorful reaction to talking about facing Ichiro. You didn't face him and you never faced him in interleague. Talk about facing him this time around and trying to get him out.
CURT SCHILLING: I haven't complained. I'm excited about it. I'm excited about facing Ichiro, both he and Pat over in Japan, to what they have brought to baseball as a fan base, as players we have to be pretty excited about the fact that baseball is becoming more global because of players like that. When you understand the impact he has on baseball in this country, striking him out would not be a bad thing starting out the game.
BOB BRENLY: Not at all.
Q. Last year at this press conference you told us what a thrill it was to pitch in the All-Star game, and then you didn't go through with it. I wonder if there's any chance you won't go through with it this time?
CURT SCHILLING: No, I'm on three days' rest now, as opposed to one. So I don't imagine that there will be any kind of issues here.
Q. Joe, you had two pretty good lead-off hitters to choose from in Soriano and Ichiro. Was that a tough call? And also, is Garcia a candidate to start the game?
JOE TORRE: No, Derek is starting the game. Ichiro and Soriano, yeah, it was a tough choice. But to me, Ichiro, what is he hitting, .360 or some ridiculous number like that? He's more of a lead-off hitter than Soriano. Plus, when I make out my lineup, the positions I have more players to play, I like to put those positions up at the top of the batting order so it's easier to get the couple of at-bats for the starters.
Q. Could you comment on Tori Hunter and what he might mean to your team from a defensive standpoint?
JOE TORRE: He's a great player. I think you noticed that last year, especially. He plays defense with a great deal of aggressiveness, and hits home runs. The kid enjoys playing the game. You watch him play and you can see it's just like going over to the park and watching sand-lotters play. He just has a lot of enthusiasm playing the game. To me, he doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone, playing centerfield. He makes that outfield real small when you try to find the gap out there. I'm excited about having him here and I know he's going to be excited to be playing there in the starting lineup.
Q. Bob, how do you feel about the pitchers who have backed out of the All-Star Game? You've lost some pretty good guys on your staff.
BOB BRENLY: Well, it was for necessary reasons. I mean, any one of the guys who backed out, I'm sure they would do anything to alter the circumstances and be able to be here competing in the All-Star Game. But they have certain allegiances to their own organizations and their own fans, as well. Decisions were made and we move on. This is where it is a good thing to have so many great players to choose from because inevitably, some players whether it be a physical reason or a family reason, they cannot make it to the All-Star Game, and that's why there is such a deep talent pools of the All-Star Game to choose from.
Q. Joe or Bob, both of you took some criticism for taking a lot of your own players. Is there some awkwardness regarding your own team? For instance, Joe, did you feel bad about not taking Bernie? And does that play into the selection process.
JOE TORRE: Well, last year, I think I took seven of my players, and each one of them was worthy, in my opinion. When I take my players, sure, they are your players and you want to take them, as long as they stand up to the guy who maybe should go in their place. But if the playing field isn't equal, then I think you have to try to figure out who should be on the team. Bernie Williams, I wasn't sure how the voting would go, but I told Bernie myself, I said, "You know, you're not making the club this year and I did not put you on those five players that were chosen." I know they had 100,000 votes every 15 minutes or something, but the size of New York, not knowing if that would favor him in any way, because he's a popular player, I left him off because I felt the other players had numbers a little bit better than his. In Mussina's case, I think he had 11 wins at the time I picked the pitchers and he was probably chosen by a lot of the other managers, but I didn't think, and probably because I watched him every start, I didn't think that he had pitched up to his own potential. So I talked to Mike about that, also, and he said it's your choice. I made the choice not to take him. It is tough, yeah. It's not easy. But again, it's easy when it's your own player, because at least you can talk to them and sort of let them know what your thinking process is, as opposed to doing it with a player on another team.
Q. Bob, talk about inviting Frank Robinson?
BOB BRENLY: It's a very easy decision, since Frank is a manager in the National League and he was a manager who I got to the big leagues. Back in 1981, '82 and '83, he taught me a lot about the game of baseball, what it meant to be a professional baseball player, not just doing it for fun. This is what you do for a living now, so you have to approach it a little bit differently, a little more seriously. Frank was a guy who I think really helped me hang around in the big leagues for eight and a half, nine years because of the things he taught me the first couple of years. So when the opportunity presented itself to invite Frank as a member of the staff, I was elated when he agreed to join the staff.
Q. Joe, you talked before about having your first at-bat in your first game; I was just wondering, what are some of your biggest memories of Milwaukee, and especially maybe when the team moved out of here, what your thoughts and feelings were about that?
JOE TORRE: My first memories of Milwaukee, when I made my first plane trip back in 1956 to watch my brother, travelling to play for the Milwaukee Braves, and meet Spahn, better did he tell, Matthews, and Del Crandall, so that made an impact. When I was a player, now all of a sudden I was just signed by the Braves and found myself in the same lineup with those same players; it was like a dream come true. So those memories before even playing here were very vivid for me, how excited this city was in 1957, playing the Yankees and again in 1958 playing the Yankees. The fact that a ground ball was hit to Eddie Matthews in Game 7 of the '57 World Series and Lou Burdette won 5-0, that was at Yankee Stadium, however at the other side of the coin, the following year, the Braves had a 3-1 lead and my brother was charged with two errors in the last game, Game 7, where the Yankees came back and won. Again, this is even before my days as a player. My first at-bat was against Harvey Hattis. I pinch-hit on a Saturday afternoon for Warren Spahn, and I singled up the middle, I got to first base and my legs were shaking so badly, and I'm glad that Charlie sent a pinch runner in for me because I'm not sure I could have navigated the rest of the way around because I thought I was a pretty good hitter until Bob Friend struck me out on three straight pitches a week later. Then he started playing regularly the following year when Crandall had a bad arm. Moving was sad. Again, Milwaukee was my first big league city and then having a court injunction to keep us from moving in '65, and playing in front of very few people in '65, knowing we were leaving in 1966. It was very sad that last year in '65, for sure.
Q. Robin and Ozzie, if you can get a sense what have that series meant playing in this town and now coming back to play here, can you still sense what that series meant to Milwaukee?
ROBIN YOUNT: I'm assuming you're talking about the World Series, '82?
ROBIN YOUNT: Well, as far as the City of Milwaukee, it was the biggest thing that had happened here in a long, long time baseball-wise since when Joe was there when they won the World Series. It was the first time the Brewers had ever made it to a World Series, and last, for that matter. I think now, this All-Star Game is probably the next greatest event since then.
OZZIE SMITH: It certainly is, and a lot of the people are letting me know, too; that they were not too happy with me then.
ROBIN YOUNT: Neither was I, Oz. (Laughter.)
OZZIE SMITH: I was telling Robin yesterday, just seeing how excited these people were about the All-Star Game. There were a lot of people that turned out yesterday for the softball thing. It's an exciting time for Milwaukee, and it's great to be back here.
Q. Joe, you've been asked about your pitching rotation in this game but no one's asked but your shortstop rotation. How do you go about getting all five shortstops in the game?
JOE TORRE: I'm not sure they all will play shortstop. I may have a pinch-hitter and I think my backup second baseman is going to be Robin Ventura. He made the mistake of volunteering for that before he was selected to the All-Star Game. I'll get as many in as I can. With the National League rules, there will be a lot of double-switching going on, to keep the pitchers from having to hit. So probably in that regard, for that reason, we'll get most of the shortstops in. I'm not sure at this point if I'm going to play Jeter in the field. I DHed him yesterday and he had a problem with his leg, on July 4, actually. I think he's fine, but I'd rather watch him today working out and then make that evaluation. But we'll get as many in as we can. They will all play. I just thought it was a great opportunity to take five shortstops because they were all worthy. Tejada, we had to leave him off last year, Vizquel has made it before, and it's pretty exciting that you can take five shortstops and realize what offensive forces they are, in addition to their defensive skill.
Q. For both captains, can you talk about some of your special memories from the All-Star Game. And Ozzie, going back to that 1982 World Series, can you talk about scoring from second base on the sacrifice fly?
OZZIE SMITH: I remember that play. Actually, I had a hematoma that I was nursing through the playoffs and World Series. I remember being taped up, and on that particular fly ball, I think it was hit by Tommy Herr. Gorman went back on the ball and he slipped on the track and was running hard all the way. I looked up and the third base coach was sending me. So it was just one of those aggressive plays. As a team, we had to use our legs a lot, so it was all about getting to that next base, and that particular instance there, once he fell, it gave me a chance to score from second base.
ROBIN YOUNT: As far as the All-Star Game goes, the highlight for me was in Chicago. Atlee Hammaker was pitching and we had runners at second and third and I was the hitter. He intentionally walked me and then Fred Lincoln hit the only Grand Slam in All-Star history. That was probably the most memorable event that I was involved in in an All-Star Game, and I think that was the first time the American League had won in quite a few games, 10, 11, whatever it was. There was a long streak of National League wins before that.
Q. This is for Ms. Autry. You mentioned that Joe is the best manager that you know. Do you have any regrets or have you ever thought about what it might have been like if you hired him to manage the Angels?
JACKIE AUTRY: I've regretted not hiring Joe every day since he left the Angels.
Unfortunately, when you hire a general manager, it's always been my policy to hire good people and let them do their job and stay out of their way. Sometimes the general manager and I did not always necessarily agree on who should or should not be the field manager. Right now, I think we do have a lot of the best managers in baseball, outside of Joe.
JOE TORRE: One of my coaches.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming. Again, National League player availability at noon. Thank you. Is
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