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October 6, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. In your years as manager, have you ever seen a team with such disparity, the kinds of personalities -- you have very devout guys; you have David Wells, David Cone, young, old, older players embracing a Shane Spencer?

JOE TORRE: The chemistry is very good. I am not necessarily a believer that you need chemistry to win. I think winning creates chemistry. But -- no, I don't think I have ever been on a ballclub with so many different personalities and you know, religious, nonreligious, and I think it is a mutual respect really that makes it work. Nobody tries to live somebody else's life, and the fact that we all come together to do one thing.

Q. Mike mentioned some of his concerns going into tonight's series. What are some of your concerns?

JOE TORRE: Well, it is always the same with me. We need to pitch. When we have pitched well during the course of the year we have won or at least had been there to win. When we don't, I hate to rely on and, you know, winning one of these 10-9 jobs, even though we are capable of doing it more so than we probably were last year or the year before. But when your success is based on your starting pitching, you are pretty much relying on that and when it doesn't happen, you really pretty much throw everything out the window and then you have to do the best you can to end an inning. I'd say if I had a concern, it would be basically that we don't pitch as well as we are capable.

Q. Are you concerned about Knoblauch at all? Do you think he is pressing, and if so, do you think it is New York pressing?

JOE TORRE: I don't think it is New York. When you get into postseason play it doesn't really matter where you play or where you are from. There is a lot of pressure. For us to say there is no pressure, it is crazy. You played 162 games, you get to the postseason, you win three out of five series, now you are in a four out of seven, which is a little stressful, but still, nonetheless, you have to do things immediately. And if you don't have your stroke, you sort of try to force it. But that is not only Knoblauch. Our top five hitters have gotten some hits, but not as many as we are used to used to getting. The one good thing about it in my mind is that when you start a new series, everybody starts from scratch. So it is nothing that should mount or build up, but no, I am not concerned about Knoblauch because I just feel that ability will win out and you know, you'd like to have everybody get off to a good start so you can sort of take a deep breath.

Q. How much of those batting struggles had to do with you guys being impatient -- less patient than you were at the beginning of the season?

JOE TORRE: I am not sure we were less patient. We still worked some counts. But we come up against some pretty good pitching. I can't only blame the lack of hitting on the fact that we weren't swinging the bats very well as much as I can compliment the pitches that we faced. We were just very fortunate to get the offense we got from the bottom of the lineup to enable us to win. Again, I want to go through this. This is a tense time and something you have to deal with and not ignore.

Q. Did your pitching in the Texas series ease your mind, if that is the right word, from the way things were?

JOE TORRE: Steve, I felt pretty good coming in because the last ten days or so we pitched a lot better than we had like sort of the previous three weeks. So I felt pretty good and I had mentioned that I thought we were ready to go. Whether we win or not it is another story, but I felt we were ready to go. But, yes, when you pitch well the last ten days of the season, doesn't automatically make you think or guarantee that you are going to pitch well in the postseason. But when we did that, again, it didn't surprise me because going I felt we were sort of ready to do that and then when we did do it, made me feel good. Of course there are still some concerns, you know, guy like Mendoza who is a sinker ball guy and hasn't been out there for a long time, that is pretty much an unknown when he comes in there. That is the one probably area that any manager would be concerned with having a sinker ball pitcher and having a lot of rest because that usually means a little overthrowing at times. But he wasn't in games for good reasons, we didn't need him.

Q. You were talking about the pressure and the tension this time of year. Is there anything to the theory that there is extra pressure being a favorite or is that just something that people talk about?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. We always feel pressure. We felt it in 1996. Felt it last year. I think any time you wear the pin stripes, when you start spring training, you are expected to go to the World Series. I mean, that has been our goal every single -- all three springs I have been here and long before I got here. So I think the fact that you play in New York, you play for the Yankees, you play for an owner like George Steinbrenner, your goals are -- I am not saying higher than somebody else's, but it seems to be the same goal every year.

Q. David Cone pitched a ton of innings early in his career, threw a lot of pitches in those innings, has gone through physical -- do you think he is -- are you surprised at all that he is as effective as he is?

JOE TORRE: The thing that probably surprised me more than anything this year is what you talked about, the fact that he has thrown a lot of pitches. But this year, I think he may have gone over 130 pitches one time and that to me was a surprise that we -- he pitched so many innings and yet kept his pitch count down. I really think he has made an adjustment and whether you are a hitter, gaining more experience or getting a little older or a pitcher that is the necessary thing is to make adjustments. A difference in David Cone this year, as opposed to other years, is that in other years, because he threw so many pitches in the off-season, he never picked up a ball until spring training, so his spring training was never terrific. He was just basically getting himself in shape. Because of the surgery he started throwing early on and I think that is why we had a different David Cone. Getting into the season even though he wasn't quite there arm strength-wise I think he was way ahead of his past years.

Q. Do you think Cleveland is getting the respect it deserves in the national press?

JOE TORRE: Oh, it is interesting, they always seem to take a slam that they don't win as many games as they are supposed to. But they always manage to get, you know, here on the doorstep of the World Series that is really all you want to do. Nobody really -- we won 114 games, doesn't give us any bye. And they won as many times as they needed to win to me, that is sort of like when Willie Mayes plays golf. He can shoot a 91 or 67, whatever is necessary to win, and they seem to be a ballclub like that. I think they are that way because the experience they have had in postseason. They pretty much know what to expect and are able to get ready to play it.

Q. How do you define a No. 1 pitcher and in what way does David Wells fit that definition?

JOE TORRE: We don't look at people as No. 1, No. 2 or right to 5. I know Mel Stottlemyre likes to say everybody is our No. 1 pitcher the day he pitches. But David Wells, what he does have, is the durability factor. He is probably stronger physically than a lot of people. He has one of those magical arms that -- knock wood -- has been pretty consistent over the years. Where David Cone, you know, we pretty much have to try to arrange the rotation around his physical well being, and with two off days, you are allowed to do that. But I think the fact that David has been as consistent as anyone this year, physically, and of course, he put the numbers up, gave him the opportunity to pitch Game 1 without a hesitation.

Q. What is David Cone's influence on the pitchers on that staff, especially David Wells?

JOE TORRE: Well, he is a security blanket, I think for a lot of people because of everything he has been through. He has been with a number of clubs that have won. He has been traded in order to help clubs win and they have done that. Everything he has gone through physically and the way he has come through it, pitching hurt, never wimpering at all and always standing up there and answering for it. I think young pitchers, not only David Wells, but young pitchers learn a lot from David Cone, just basically what he represents and he is a class act, a guy who takes responsibility for what he does, whether it is good or bad.

End of FastScripts…

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