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October 8, 1999
DALLAS, TEXAS: Workout Day
Q. Would you discuss your comfort level Rivera when you called down there?
JOE TORRE: I think any manager feels confident and comfortable with his team, but
especially your closer. I think since he inherited the job after John left, he had a
little struggle in '97. Understanding that he was the last one in the game, and then
that's a certain amount of insecurity that goes with that. Once he went through his rocky
times and realized that that was his job, he's progressed. And I think that the biggest
change in him is the fact that he's not trying to strike people out. And Rivera's done a
lot of the closing and saving of games without using a lot of pitches, which is very
unlike what he did early on when he became a closer. But it's just great to watch what he
has done and how he's progressed.
Q. Would you go over again your pitching plans for the series, specifically pitching
Clemens third, and how hard it was to make that decision about a five-time Cy Young
JOE TORRE: There's no question the question whether to use El Duque or Roger in Game 1
was a flip of the coin, basically. And then we started thinking of going into a visiting
ballpark to play Games 3 and 4, and the fact, first of all, the fact that Hernandez has
given us a lot of length, seven, eight innings, a lot of games he's pitched, and the fact
that we're on the road for these next two games, I think I wanted my veterans to pitch
Games 3 and 4 in the event we came out of New York 0-2, 1-1, 2-0. The veteran stability is
good. I learned that in '96 when I pitched David Cone in Game 3 of the World Series and
sort of put a bandage on what was going on that year and helped us turn it around a little
bit. You know, Roger Clemens, his stuff has been good. I think sometimes, you know, in
trying to acclimate himself to a new ballclub, sure, he's trying to impress people, trying
to show people all the things that has made him a great pitcher. Sometimes when he's had
extra rest, he's had trouble controlling his stuff. His stuff has been real good, but his
command of it hasn't always been. I think a lot of that is the fact he's had extra rest
and blows that off now and then and upsets his rhythm. Knowing that he wasn't pitching
till Game 3, he sort of had a plan for himself: Both weight room, throw days, stuff like
that, which would sort of, you know, hopefully will get him ready to pitch tomorrow. I'm
comfortable he'll be fine. I think knowing in advance when he was pitching really helped
him in that situation.
Q. Joe, what do you hang your hat on tomorrow that he's going to have a good outing?
Sometimes you expect him to, but it seems that he doesn't.
JOE TORRE: That's not true. I never expected him not to (Laughs). Michael expects him
not to. Not me. Don't try to trick me, Michael. I always expect my starters to do well.
And in Roger's case, believe me, I'm more surprised than anybody else when he doesn't do
well. Because -- and the reason I feel he will do well, and I've always felt that way, is
what he's brought to the table all these years. You win five Cy Young's, understand you
don't forget that. You don't fall off the end of the earth that quickly after winning one
last year. I think it's a -- just some fine-tuning that he needs to do. Something very
subtle. And his biggest problem has been he's being behind in the count. When you get
behind in the count, you can't use that on the hitter. The hitter is behind 1-2 against
Roger Clemens, it's not a good experience. But when you get 2-1, 3-1, it's a little easier
to hit. So you take a lot of the guesswork out of it.
Q. Joe, do you find your players get something different in their eyes, in themselves
when they have a chance to close? The last couple of years, whenever you had a chance to
close, with one exception, you've done it before your game. Do you see something
JOE TORRE: The question was just about how my players get that look in their eye when
there's a chance to close out a series before you get to the final game. I'm just
convinced that in a short series, very little can turn it around for the other team. It
just takes one game, and the momentum shifts and you really don't want to lose that edge.
We're thinking in terms tomorrow night. We're not thinking of we only have to win one out
of the next three. You start getting into those situations, and you really lose your drive
and you lose your momentum. We're thinking in terms of going out tomorrow and playing as
hard as we can, not getting too excited until hopefully we can win. But I think the big
thing in my mind is how quickly a series can turn on one game.
Q. Now that you've had Roger for the whole year, how different have you found him to be
JOE TORRE: Well, they're very different. You know, the work ethic is different. Boomer
-- but don't get me wrong. Whatever Boomer does works for him. Roger is probably a little
more serious about what he does. They're both serious on the day they pitch. But I think
Roger is probably a little more meticulous in his preparation. Boomer is what Boomer is.
That's why the fans in New York love him. He was sort of a street guy, blue-collar guy,
give-me-a-rock-I'll-throw-it-hard, stuff like that. Roger is a little more -- he's a
shirt-and-tie guy, as opposed to Boomer, with his T-shirt and jeans, okay? That's the way
I can describe it. However, you know, the results for Boomer have been pretty good, also.
Q. Joe, for all the talk about whether Roger's met expectations or hasn't this year, is
a Yankee maybe ultimately judged by what he's going to do in this month, and maybe
ultimately remembered for what happens for you guys?
JOE TORRE: No question. I think -- I don't think you have to be Yankee to be judged. I
think all players are judged how they do in postseason. Unfortunately, I know I mentioned
there the other day to someone about, you know, Bill Buckner, you keep seeing that on
television: The ball going through his legs, and in my mind, it diminishes what he's
accomplished in his career. It's unfortunate that that's where the magnifying glass is.
It's unfortunate, these are the only games being played, there is what you started spring
training to get to. But there's no question that Roger's five Cy Young's, and now he's in
a Yankee uniform, this is another season. What he accomplished this past year isn't
important anymore. We won our division. But I just have a sense that he'll be ready for
Q. Joe, what's your sense on how much baggage Roger will take to the mound tomorrow
night in terms of expectations, trade, his postseason record?
JOE TORRE: Well, the way Roger is, he sets his goals very high for himself. He's always
done that. I think that's what's made him a great pitcher. I go back to 1986 pitching in
Game 6. He had a lead when he left that mound. His record, I'm not sure that the record in
postseason is really fair a lot of times to judge players or pitchers. But I know one
thing, he's going to be in his home state; he's going to be pumped up. He's always pumped
up. You'll see him talking to himself about yelling at the umpire, yelling at the catcher.
But that's what drives him. Hopefully he can keep his stuff focused and be able to channel
all that energy in the right direction.
Q. Joe, you mentioned the other day it took you more than 30 years to get to the World
Series and win a championship or two. Because of that, do you have a better appreciation
for Roger, maybe feeling frustrated over the years, of having to hear those questions
about not getting to win the big one, so to speak?
JOE TORRE: There's no question. It keeps being brought up, and there's not a whole lot
a player can do about it. You know, Roger has had his first opportunity when he went to
Toronto. I'm sure he felt that they had a shot at postseason. I did too, to be perfectly
honest with you. And I think we've all witnessed John Elway being characterized as never
having won the big one, and to diminish that career was nuts. It's not to see that
supposed monkey off his back. It's postseason play, and this is what it's all about. This
is what people remember. Unfortunately, I don't necessarily agree with that, if you don't
win postseason play then you're not capable of winning the big one. You can't play as many
games or pitch as many games as he has before a couple years as Elway has to diminish what
he's accomplished. But, you know, I'm sure he's tired of it. I really am. I'm really the
only one during -- I never had enough of a career without going to postseason play to be
haunted by it like Roger, probably. But I'm sure that's part of the package that's going
out there tomorrow night.
Q. Joe, have you seen the Rangers' hitters look overly-aggressive, overanxious at all?
How does it play into Roger's game against them, if at all?
JOE TORRE: Well, we have to throw a strike on him. El Duque, the first day, you know,
flirted with a double early on. Andy last night got behind some hitters, but managed to
throw strike one, even after two balls, and they didn't swing at it. They look to be
patient. Our ballclub walked a lot of people the last half of the season. I'm sure that
was part of -- part of the scouting report. But to me, I sense that they're still an
aggressive group. They still go out there wanting to swing the bat. You don't post the
numbers they've posted this year without going up there and taking a swing. Some of the --
first day, you had Pudge go out there: Single, double; three or four pitches he had a
single and double. They're going to swing the bat. How that works with Roger, again, it's
going to be command. It's going to be command. You can't expect to throw the ball down the
middle on a regular basis and get away with it. However, you know, Roger when he throws at
94, 95, it's a little different than, say, Andy throwing at 89, 90. Roger may be able to
get away with a little bit more, but I still think getting ahead in the count is going to
be his key.
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