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October 7, 1998

Joe Torre


Q. In light of all the bad news lately with the cancer and people dying and -- how much does it mean to you to have your brother well alive and alert as opposed to --

JOE TORRE: It is funny, Frank, the first game we won against Texas, it was pretty emotional. I walked into my office after the game, he said let me hug you standing up, because I was on my back two years ago. It means a great deal to me because Frank is my older brother and we have been very close friends and during my playing career we always talked, spoke with each other four, five times a week. It means a great deal. It is remarkable what medicine has been able to do. It is just unfortunate in regards to cancer, you know, some good and some bad that we really can't get the breakthrough we'd like to get there. But it really makes you appreciate when you -- the health part of what we do.

Q. Any clues why it has been a struggle for Tino since he came to the Yankees?

JOE TORRE: Well, the only thing I can put my finger on, and we have talked about it, is that, you know, like most of my guys -- you have to stand behind the cage even during the regular season game to watch them torture themselves in batting practice. Wade Boggs was that way. The guys who really set high standards for themselves and line drivers aren't good enough, they have to have base hits attached to them. And I think Tino is -- I know Tino is that way. He just sets very high standards and has trouble -- I don't think anybody can live up to what he sets for himself. I think he becomes frustrated. Hopefully he gets a couple of hits and he can be satisfied with it. But he is just driven. He is a driven guy. But of course that is what makes him successful too. He is very rarely satisfied with what he does and I think that is what continues to drive him. However, when you get to postseason, and I don't think Tino is the only one, it is a short series and you seem to put more emphasis on each at-bat and sometimes that works against you.

Q. You are starting Raines for the second day in a row. Do you see getting Chili in the lineup any time soon?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I'd like to believe the next one -- the next two games I will have Chili in there. We talked about it today. Chili probably would have played today if Tim Raines wasn't on the ballclub but Tim has pretty good numbers against Nagy, so that is the reason he is playing today.

Q. How do you identify Paul O'Neill's role in that clubhouse on that team?

JOE TORRE: A lot like when I managed the Atlanta Braves in the early '80s, Dale Murphy was a leader on my ballclub and again, not because he went around and telling everybody he was or he was very outgoing, but just by going out there and playing day in and day out, the way you play the game, and that, to me, is what Paul O'Neill is all about. At the writer dinner this past winter George Steinbrenner described him as a warrior, and I think that is a perfect fit for him. He is just a guy that people look to for leadership. As I say, not someone who is going to be out there in the forefront to talk about it, but basically just to go out there and play the way he knows how to play which is pretty damn good.

Q. I was going to ask the same question about Jeter, you don't see a 24 year old who is a leader. Just talk about that?

JOE TORRE: Jeter is a very special guy. There is something about his presence and the look in his eye, especially in postseason, although he does it every single day that I have seen him, he has that look where he just seems to like it when it gets tightest; when it gets toughest, and you are right, it is very unusual for a kid that young with the limited experience that he has to really thrive and look forward to that type of thing. You don't teach that. You don't teach that. It has to come from within and he is unbelievable when -- when you look at numbers. Numbers really don't describe what Jeter is all about. He has a presence and that, to me, is such a big part of what he does and for being such a young kid, it is very unusual that that happens.

Q. Nagy has had some success against the Yankees this year in the stadium holding the Yankees to three hits over 8 innings. What are going to be the keys to beating him tonight?

JOE TORRE: That was just recently. That was just a few weeks ago. Charles has good stuff. Again, the success of any pitcher depends on getting ahead in the count, being able to use all his pitches, and you get behind, you are pretty limited. You have to have three pitches you can throw for strikes. When he gets a hit he has a few weapons he can go to. That was the difference in that game against us. Again, if you make the comparison with Wells and Wright last night, the same thing. Jaret got behind and had to come down the middle. Hopefully you know, we can force that. But again, if he is making his pitches, you are going to have to work a little bit harder.

Q. Looking ahead, Andy Pettitte, during the month or so that he struggled, did you see a drop in his confidence and if so, just the one performance against Texas is that something that could be generated again?

JOE TORRE: I think confidence is very fragile in this game. You sort of have to prove yourself to yourself everyday. The last few times Andy pitched during the regular season his stuff was very good. Then of course doing it against Texas in a postseason, that makes up for a whole lot of, you know, bad pitching performances or just mediocre pitching performances because you are doing it in a situation that is do or die, so I think confidence-wise he is fine right now. But we saw it about, I said four appearances ago when his stuff turned really good and he limited his bad stuff to maybe bad approach, bad inning, but it was more so the approach. I think he sort of got everything back in order as far as his thinking, which, to me, was the only problem that he had. He just -- wasn't aggressive enough.

Q. I am not sure that Jeter's defense gets the recognition that you might think it deserves, whether it is because there is a guy like Vizquel also in the American League or a guy like Ordonez across town. Can you talk about the play he made last night?

JOE TORRE: I think any time you hit as much as Derek does they never pay attention to defense. It is not something that you call to mind. Vizquel is one of the best around. There is no question. The kid in Toronto is an outstanding shortstop. Garciaparra plays well defensively, but again, you are right, you talk about his hitting and Rodriguez, but that play he made last night, I didn't think he had a prayer, he jumps up there and to have a body like he has, being as tall as he is, to have the body control is unusual. And to have the arm to go along with everything else -- to me I think Jeter makes the play coming in as well as anybody has ever made it that I have seen. But -- he is getting better. He is making the double play better going to his left a little better. These are areas that he needed some work and this year because he is so coachable, has improved in that area. Going to the right, he never had a big problem. You are not crazy about jumping up and throwing to first base because it puts a lot of stress on the arm. But, you know, you have to do things that are instinctive to you and that seemed like a very natural play for him last night.

Q. David Cone told us last night that he may have overshot last year when he told you he would be okay against the Indians. It sounded like he really felt bad about that in that he thought he had let the team down. Did you notice that he was on a mission this year to make up for it?

JOE TORRE: Well, last year he didn't let us down, didn't cost us anything, but we won the game that he started and Doc Gooden pitched his next game. But again, David will speak with his heart instead of his head a lot of times about last year, but the thing that made it tough on him last year was the fact when we asked the question he was fine, but like a day or so later when he had to pitch it was different. That is the way his arm was last year. Once he made the commitment to tell us he was okay, well he was going to make it okay as best he can. As far as being on a mission, I think what made this possible is the surgery he had in the off-season. He is so much a different pitcher this year where he doesn't have to really manufacture like he tried to do last year.

Q. Bob Gibson was on the field pregame yesterday, do you remember his demeanor before big games as a player and anybody on this team come close?

JOE TORRE: I see a lot of similarities in all our pitchers. The day you pitch, you are just locked into whatever your focus is. I try to keep the media away from the starting pitchers, but a guy like David Cone, he will talk the day he pitches. He doesn't seem to really change until the game starts. Wells has his own ritual, Petitte, you know, tries to go around and -- you very rarely talk to the starting pitcher. Gibson was unusual. He would not -- he would come in and he would have that grumpy look on his face. Of course, he would always tell the players half kiddingly an hour 57 minutes; win, lose or draw and it was pretty much right on the number all the time. But I don't think I have ever -- of course, I have played with Gibby, so I had the chance to observe. Drysdale was very similar to what Gibby did, but I didn't see Drysdale on a day-to-day basis. Gibby was a very tough competitor. He couldn't eat the day he pitched because his stomach would grind and he would have that intensity going for him. It was nice to watch him ask for autographs for his young son, I said, it is showing people he is human, really. Because nobody ever knew that for a while.

End of FastScripts…

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