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October 5, 1998

Joe Torre

NEW YORK CITY: Workout Day

Q. Joe, do you expect the pitching can continue to dominate as it keeps going on in the series?

JOE TORRE: Well, I'd like to believe so. Because that has been our strength and hopefully it continues to be that way.

Q. Could you tell us what your experience at the hospital was yesterday; what you saw, how that felt?

JOE TORRE: Well, I couldn't have been more pleased. He was -- Straw was very alert. He looked real good. I mean, he was sitting up, of course the one complaint he had is he is not going to be able to eat for a couple of days. But he shook hands with everybody and we really had to say let's go because he was just chatting away: He lost a day which is understandable when you go into surgery and you go under and you refer to yesterday a lot like it was Friday. That is basically the last day he remembered. But aside from that, I guess all the outcome was terrific. The outlook is terrific. And he has been getting up every couple of hours just sitting in a chair and walking around a little bit as of yesterday. So things will only improve hopefully.

Q. What is the Strawberry factor in this? Is it any kind of real motivation or do these guys got so much -- any kind of real motivation?

JOE TORRE: For sure, Straw, he keeps giving us orders to go and do it. He did it again yesterday. It is definitely -- it was so relaxed yesterday. I mean, nobody felt uneasy with the fact that he had a cancer surgery. Everybody was pretty much kidding him. He was kidding other people and the motivation is part of it. The Straw factor is part of it. There is no question. The fact that we want to get to the World Series is a part of it. We want to be back there. We got through a very tough series with Texas. I know we beat them 3 nothing but none of those games were blow outs, they were all very intense battles. But for sure not having Straw around we miss him because he is a leader. He has been through this post season stuff before. And I know a lot of people lean on him, whether he is playing or isn't playing. We are going to miss that part of it. But the fact that he is close enough where we can call him or talk to him, it does help. And I know probably a number of players will go over and try to see him today if he is up to it.

Q. Are you thinking of starting David Cone in Game 2?

JOE TORRE: Right. Well, in the short series I mentioned I started David in the third game because he can only pitch one time, 7-game series is a little bit different with the two off days. And because he only threw 85 pitches his last start, we figured we would take advantage of that pitching him his fifth day, which would be the normal round for him. If we get to Game 6 he would pitch an extra day, which we have had good luck with. I think it sets up that way for him. Hopefully the weather cooperates and we are able to do that. That is basically it. And the fact that it is cold here, it is going to be colder in Cleveland. Even though he doesn't think that is a problem for him, the weather, the fact that he will pitch here twice.

Q. Your impressions the first time you saw Shane Spencer play and what has most impressed you the last -- what have you thought about since?

JOE TORRE: That was last couple of springs ago. He is a big kid and you had heard he can hit some home runs. He has been around awhile. You really didn't read a whole lot about him especially in spring training -- you have 55 players, whatever it is, once you start weeding people out and you keep him longer than anybody else because he has probably had more experience than anybody else at the Minor League level and he hit some home runs for us the first spring I was here in '96 -- it was actually in 1997. That was his first spring with us. He was impressive hitting some balls out of the ballpark. Then we brought him up. He was sort of a fill-in guy. He really didn't get a chance to do anything, told him to work out at first base. He did. He came back played game at first base, which was not great. But he worked at it. And all of a sudden, I remember Zim and I were talking about it the last week of the season because we hadn't faced any lefthanders -- let us get him out there and see what he can do. See what our choices are because we know we were taking 10 pitchers and we knew we were going to have to take one extra player and we wanted to make sure that we had as much information as possible and all of a sudden he was turned loose in that day-night double header and bang, bang, bang, even though he had hit a couple of home runs before that, and in Baltimore he came in and pinch hit one that looked like a home run, and grand slam. So he gave us enough to want to know more about him. All of a sudden he just took the job.

Q. Would you talk about Brosius's condition and whether you guys have or will consider Mike on the roster?

JOE TORRE: I think after this morning he went for more tests. Everything is fine, he feels good. Feels better today than yesterday. Lowell would have been a consideration if we didn't feel that he could have played I am confident that he will be okay and you know, he will probably -- we don't have to have that roster in until noon tomorrow. In all likelihood it will be him.

Q. Performance-wise and personality-wise, what has Wells done this year?

JOE TORRE: Well, to me he is a much better pitcher than he was last year. The stuff is the same but I think what he has done with it has been a lot better. To me, when he -- I always think he has good stuff. I think his problem is a lot of times location and last year in a number of games where he didn't have the location that he felt he should have, he just seemed to get frustrated with it and became a thrower. This year, and I think a lot of it happens since the perfect game where all of a sudden everybody is paying attention to what David Wells does. But he has become a much better pitcher being able to stay in games, fighting his way through those games that he thinks he has less than great stuff or location and I know I had mention this before but I have complemented him on some games that he didn't necessarily get a decision because of the way he kept us in the game for 6, 7, 8 innings. I just think he is a tougher pitcher right now and I think it was only proven more so with that game he pitched against Texas and he got two big outs for us.

Q. Do you have a lineup?

JOE TORRE: Yes, I do. Knoblauch, Jeter, O'Neill, Williams, Martinez, Tim Raines will be the D.H., Spencer Posada and Brosius.

Q. Could you give your impressions of the Indians and maybe compare them to last year?

JOE TORRE: Well, they just seem to be getting better. In my mind, first of all, you have Jaret Wright who is a little more experienced, Colon a little more experienced so the one area where they may have had question marks they seem to have solved those situations, plus Mike Jackson has been their closer. They are a club who has had success over the last three, four years, so I think the success factor has added to their confidence. They are pretty much a veteran ballclub that have a lot of confidence in themselves. Again, we are going to need to pitch. We faced a tough club in Texas offensively and we were able to shoot them down. Of course they just about did that to us too. But it is going to be pitching. Pitching will -- hopefully it will dominate because I feel that we have the capabilities to do that, but again if you don't pitch they are going to let you know about that. They have good balance, Justice has added to that, getting Lofton back has added to that balance. What Ramirez has done, and he is only getting better as a hitter for sure.

Q. Have you seen players come along at 26 and do what has never been done before and stay that way?

JOE TORRE: I think it is definitely possible. Sometimes you don't grasp things and then -- well today, when you have weight training and workout with things flexibility, quickness, I think understanding when you get into the batter's box the most important thing is an understanding of what you are doing and what you are looking for. And those things it may take a little time to sink in as oppose to seeing the ball hit the ball. There is more to hitting than that. I have seen players all of a sudden come of age at 28, 29 and become real good players. It is a matter of maturity and you know, the Minor Leagues, I mean eight years in the Minor Leagues if that doesn't make you -- if you don't quit and you are still there at eight years that means you want it very badly and I think that sort of gets you over the hump.

Q. When you are four outs away last year you have someone as good as Rivera on the mound, how stunning is it when Alomar hits the home run?

JOE TORRE: Well, you have to like your chances because Moe at that point in time was pretty dominant, especially against right-handers when you think back of the magical year that Sandy had last year, hitting the home run in the All-Star Game and stuff like that, nothing really surprises you. You are never really out of the woods, no. And ballparks today, when you hit them down either line, you know, you are always in danger. Well, sure we were stunned. We don't expect it. Obviously, you bring in Rivera to get the guy out when he doesn't, it surprises you. And it was just -- it was a downer for us and you know, I can't say we didn't recover. We played a tough game the next day, lose 4-3, but I like my chances. I will take my same chances right now with four outs to go with Rivera in the game.

Q. Was there any factor in particular that made you go with Raines over Chili and also how important was Brosius?

JOE TORRE: Raines has had some experience against Wright. I like the way he is swinging the bat. Brosius is basically -- he is a terrific player and his contributions -- he makes that little top ball bunt play as well as anyone makes it. Plus his spirit, his looseness, I mean, he will keep you as loose in the dug out as you want to be kept. And the fact that he has been hitting the ball very well. He has used all the fields. The home run that he hit in Game 1 was huge for us. I mean, Game 2 was huge for us. And he uses the whole field. You have to carefully pitch to him because he will pull the ball down the line and yet hit one to right field, right center. He has been a real big surprise for us, not knowing what to expect when we made the deal, but when you get the deal with 98 RBIs and playing the defense the way he does --

Q. What are the things that Jaret Wright has been able to do when he has been able to pitch well against you?

JOE TORRE: Getting all his pitches over. Throws fast ball in the 90s, he has got a breaking ball. Just a lot of things he -- you have to really be patient with Jaret Wright. He throws -- uses both sides of the plate. Again, he can overpower you at times, but we have to just try to do our -- play our game and prepare properly against each pitcher that they throw at us. He has just come out. He is very aggressive, very aggressive and I think we knocked him out one time this year, but aside from that he has had pretty good success over us. In fact, we had the 3-run lead against him last year we couldn't hold up in Game 2.

Q. Talk about the top of your batting order? Stating the obvious that you need more out of them to succeed in this series and can you put get a handle on what happened in the last --

JOE TORRE: Well, there is no question that the top of our order sets the table for our guys in the middle. It is a lot easier. That was our game plan against Texas, try to keep people off the base for Gonzalez it made it a little easier for him to pitch to. I think Vizquel -- whoever is going to hit second for them, Lofton, makes it easier when you are facing those big guys in the middle with no men on base. We need Knoblauch to get on base, walk, work the count get the most out of his at-bats. Well, we'd like the home run, but we don't need the home run. I am thinking in terms of just basehits and walks will be fine for me from Knoblauch and then Jeter seems to feed off that. There is no question, we are very fortunate and lucky to have a Shane Spencer and Brosius and Curtis who helped us win the first three games of this post season. But we really honor our batting order 1 through 5, especially and I anticipate we will be fine. Hopefully we have some stuff in the bank coming to us.

Q. What differences have you noticed in Kenny Lofton after spending a year in the National League?

JOE TORRE: Well, he scares you. Want to keep him off the bases. I don't know if he has changed at all. He has hit some home runs hit a couple in the Boston series and couple against our ballclub. He is strong. Certain area you leave the ball out there and he is going to hurt you. But he also can hit the ball down the left field line and again, I think that is where the pressure comes in for our pitching staff is to be able to get him out and keep him off the bases because he adds another dimension. As far as differences, I thought he was a good player before he left. And as far as I am concerned, he is still a good player.

Q. When you were with Milwaukee was the legend of Hurricane Hazel around?

JOE TORRE: Well, before I was with Milwaukee, my brother was with Milwaukee. That is when it happened in 1957, '56, the Milwaukee Braves came close to winning. The Dodgers beat them out late last week of the season but Hazel came up about halfway through the season and hit .400 for them in '57 and got them over the hump. Everything was a hit; line drives, home runs, left hand hitter. And then all of a sudden he wasn't heard from again. I think he had an injury though in that time from '57 to '58. But yeah, all through, I knew about Hurricane Hazel because I was a Braves' fan because of my brother, Frank. But he certainly gave them the lift he needed and hopefully Shane is that person for us.

Q. Just about every decision that you made against the Texas Rangers worked out. For lack of a better word, do you feel hot right now?

JOE TORRE: Bobby, let's put it this way, when you have -- when you have the ability that I have to draw from, sure, some of it is luck, but a lot of it is the capability of the players and the fact that they are all ready to play and contribute and don't have the ego to think that they have to play everyday or you know, why did you forget me. We try not to forget anybody. But the fact is that it is tough to make a bad decision when you have the quality that I have.

End of FastScripts…

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