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October 9, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. Joe, Loaiza yesterday said your team had trouble hitting fastballs; that's why Helling threw so many. Does that surprise you the guy would think your club doesn't handle more fastballs?

JOE TORRE: Well, you go according to your own reports. We try to handle whatever we have to handle. Hopefully, we're successful doing it. But I don't think we have any one particular glaring weakness to the way we hit. At times, obviously, if somebody is overpowering, he gives everybody trouble.

Q. Joe, you talked about Roger being the No. 3 starter. What about Cone as the No. 4 starter?

JOE TORRE: Well, we had -- I've had him No. 3 before. I really haven't given it a whole lot of thought. We talked to David about it. But again, I think he gives us security more than anything else. Depending on how Games 1 and 2 went, I think any kind of scenario there, having Clemens and Cone pitch Games 3 and 4 makes me feel good. There's no question. I think the only problem David Cone would have maybe is pitching Game 4, with what he's done over his career, if he was anybody else but David Cone, I don't know. David Cone doesn't care. He just wants to do whatever he can to help the ballclub. He's always been that way, even going back to the World Series in '96 when we decided to pitch him in Game 3. I know Jimmy Key was surprised because he pitched Game 2. David, you know, said "Whatever you guys think."

Q. What is wrong with Paul O'Neill?

JOE TORRE: Well, Paul ran into the stands in Tampa. He had a little bruise on, I think, his left side, and it's nagging at him a little bit. He wanted to play tonight, and I said, "If it was Game 5, you may be able to convince me of that." I just feel better to keep him from further injuring this thing. I don't think it's any one thing or the other that bothers him more. I think it's sort of a nagging thing that bothers him, and I feel a lot better if he didn't play, you know, because of our situation right now.

Q. What does a team need to beat the Yankees?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, if the Yankees don't do their job pitching-wise. I think our strength is our pitching. And as long as we exercise and execute our game plan, which is no secret, I mean, throw strikes, make quality pitches, don't get too many hitters' counts, you can get yourself in trouble. We have been able to do that the first two games. The first couple innings of the first game, El Duque was flirting with that a little bit, with tough hitters at the plate. But for the most part, we have been able to pitch quality innings. You know, to me, in '96, we didn't have the best personnel, probably, but we won the World Series. But when you look at our pitching staff, I'd put our pitching staff up against anybody's because we're pretty good start to finish. So I think that's been our strength and it continues to be our strength.

Q. Joe, you talked about Roger being an emotional pitcher. Do you want him to temper that, just given the circumstances here, or do you turn him loose and let him do his thing?

JOE TORRE: This is his stage tonight. The only responsibility I have is giving him the ball. Once I do that, he's on his own. He's pitched enough games; he's been successful long enough. He's going to be pumped, there's no doubt and it. I don't know exactly how he's going to go about it, but I have a good feeling about it. You're right; he's emotional, and I've said that. And sometimes that can work against you, and it can work for you. The thing about tonight, you know, as I say, maybe because we won two in a row, I have a good feeling about it. But knowing Roger Clemens and watching him pitch for a number of years, knowing what he brings to the table, this is his spotlight, and I have a feeling he'll know what to do with it.

Q. I know this is getting ahead of yourself, but if you had three days off before the next series, how would that affect your starting pitchers?

JOE TORRE: It is getting ahead, and we really haven't considered what the decision would be. I mean, I was asked by NBC about, "Would Cone pitch Game 1?" That's definitely a possibility that he would pitch Game 1, but we're not thinking about that because we haven't won the third game. Until you do that, you can't worry about the next round.

Q. I wasn't so much talking about the identity of them, but as far as the work goes.

JOE TORRE: As far as just --.

Q. Backed up, not getting --?

JOE TORRE: No. I don't think that would be a big problem. You know, I don't know. You can work around that. I don't think it's any big problem for us. I think if you go out there and, say, seven, eight days like we had to do from the Championship Series, the World Series in '96, that was a problem. We clinched on a Sunday and we played the first game the next Sunday. That was a problem for us. Not only pitching-wise, but player-wise.

Q. Any reaction to seeing the Mets winning?

JOE TORRE: I tell you what, a week ago they were nowhere in sight. They needed help, let's put it that way. To me, they're the most relaxed club in the postseason. Right now, anything they're doing is bonus time for them. They have a good team, there's no doubt. They played well all year. But after what they had to face getting to the postseason, this is fun for them.

End of FastScripts…

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