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October 16, 1999

Joe Torre


Q. Could you recount what you went through in your efforts to keep Andy Pettitte on the staff; what you had to do this year to make sure he was around for the postseason?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think it was just Mel Stottlemyre and myself basically could not shake the memory of how well he has pitched in postseason and in very important games, during the time that we have been here. Every time I was asked for my opinion, we were strong in favor of keeping Andy. That didn't mean we were going to keep him, but it got to a point where George Steinbrenner said: "Well, it is going to be your decision." We made it and I am glad we did. Andy, to me, he was not the same pitcher obviously. He went out there very tentatively. I think there was a lot going on in his mind. I think the fact that all the talk about being traded maybe had something to do with it even though he really denied the fact that we passed the trade deadline and all of a sudden he started pitching well. He didn't think he had a lot to do with it. I think it had something to do with it. Plus I think there was a game in Chicago where he bottomed out and he had to start making a plan in staying with it. Because the stuff was good. It was just a matter of how aggressive he was going to be. But I am certainly pleased that George allowed us to make that decision.

Q. Was he in favor of trading him at the time? Was he campaigning for the trade?

JOE TORRE: Not necessarily. I think George was sort of, you know, listening to all the opinions because we have -- there is a lot going on in this organization obviously and we have different people that have different opinions, which is healthy and I think he was just basically listening to all the opinions and then some to make a move. Again, it wasn't like we were going to get rid of Andy Pettitte. It was looking to make a deal where it would strengthen us. So it was, as I say I was pleased that he allowed us to make that decision.

Q. Were you surprised to hear about Mike Hargrove?

JOE TORRE: Well, not necessarily only because there was always rumblings about not doing this and not doing that. The thing that bothered me -- and I watched Mike interviewed last night where he was a little broken up about it, is when you fire somebody, and I am speaking from experience, I wish the people would say we are going to make a change, we are going to try something different; blah, blah, blah. Don't say that we are trying to get to the next level, or we want to get these players to play harder or whatever it may be. Because that -- you are telling me that somebody getting a base hit with the bases loaded or getting a hitter to strike out would have been enough to get him to the next level that would have been enough. Just make a change and I think the managers understand that. It is just a little insulting when some of the reasoning comes out that we are going to the next level. I mean, if you are going to make a move, I mean, eight or nine years is a time to wait and then use that as a reasoning. That is the only thing that bothers me. Mike keeps going to postseason play and sometimes you get a little spoiled by that and a little impatient with not going as far as you'd like to. But we all know that 162 games is basically the tough part and I mean, the easy part when you have the ability. But when you get into that three out of five or four out of seven, anything is liable to happen.

Q. There has been so much attention paid to today's matchup, you know, the Pedro/Clemens matchup. Do you get the sense that people are sort of like: Oh, yeah, Pettitte/Saberhagen tomorrow and there is almost a feeling of being anticlimactic?

JOE TORRE: Well, it will until tomorrow. I can understand it and I am sure Saberhagen and Pettitte understand it. This is once in a lifetime. If you think of everything that has gone into this, you have Roger Clemens won five Cy Young's and MVP. Pedro who has won a Cy Young and will win another one and maybe an MVP. There are so many parallels and then to have Roger who has left Boston and then all of a sudden to come back and pitch in Boston in the postseason of all things in a Yankee uniform, it is one of those movie-type marquis and I think it is going to be great. I am going to be a spectator on this thing along with everybody else. But when tomorrow comes, we may be still talking about today and hopefully it is in a positive way. Whichever way it goes, we hope both pitchers live up and hope the game lives up to what is supposed to be -- tomorrow we will get back to business again.

Q. Recently there have been some announcements from John's Hopkins about some real inroads regarding prostate cancer. As someone who has gone through this, what are your thoughts on maybe some real positive things going on?

JOE TORRE: Well, I am aware of a lot of things that obviously a year ago I wasn't aware of in regards to prostate cancer. When you first hear the word cancer, you think a death sentence. But with all the research that has gone on and all the different treatments that are available now and that will be available in the next six, eight months, six, eight years, you know, it is a lot of positive news for prostate cancer. There is no question about it. So I may not be aware of this particular announcement that is coming out of John's Hopkins but from constantly going back to doctors and talking to doctors, it is a bright future, hopefully.

Q. Can you just share any memories of Saberhagen's career? There was a time when he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, any specific games you recall?

JOE TORRE: Bret Saberhagen was something special. I mean, any time you look at his numbers and his walks to strikeout ratio is astounding. It is a little bit like Joe DiMaggio's number of strike outs, to the number of home runs he hit. To be that dominant and not have a little wildness to go with it, is pretty incredible. If any of you remember when he was just a youngster winning the World Series, if I am -- if I remember correctly -- I remember before the third out of that World Series in the ninth inning George Brett going over to Saberhagen saying you better come over to me and hug me first before anybody else. But Bret Saberhagen, even now, even though his arm strength isn't what it once was-- and he has gone through numerous, you know, therapies and surgeries and everything else, he still has the heart and the know-how. He has pitched well against our ballclub with obviously less stuff than he has had in his earlier years, but he is very, very special and believe me, you know when he pitches against you that he has the know-how and he can do it with guile now where he used to do it with other stuff.

Q. Expectations and pressure was so high last year. Is it a little bit more fun this year; does that make this one a little more fun?

JOE TORRE: It is a lot more fun. The more you do it, the more fun it is. But for sure last year after winning 114 games during the season, you felt sort of obligated to have to go to the World Series and win the World Series otherwise people would have downplayed what you accomplished. Yes, this is more fun. Maybe I have been approaching it that way too because where I was six months ago and knowing what was going on in my body and my life, that this is a game and it really is fun getting to postseason, but for sure, with what we accomplished last year as a team, this is a lot -- I don't want to say easier, it is never easy but you are right, it is more fun. That is probably the best term.

Q. Would you talk about what your admiration level is for Paul O'Neill who kind of sucks it up to go out and play and how much pain is he actually in?

JOE TORRE: George Steinbrenner introduced Paul at a dinner a couple of years ago and he called him a warrior. That exactly was the perfect name for him. I go back to 1996 when he was just sort of a shell of what he was. We were batting him 6th and 7th in the batting order. I remember not playing him or not having him in the lineup in game, I guess it was Game 6 -- Game 5. He winds up making the catch to end the ballgame in right centerfield. I am glad I had changed my mind at that point in time. As far as how much pain he is experiencing, I think it is getting a little better on a daily basis. I thought he felt a little uncomfortable not playing than playing because it seems when he gets it loose it is fine but when he is just, you know, doing the thing that we normally do, just go and eat lunch and go to sleep or whatever, that stuff probably bothers him more than once he gets it loose to keep playing. But as far as the injury, it seems to be getting a little better. It could turn any time because you make some kind of an awkward move or have to dive for a ball obviously it is going to be a lot more painful. But he doesn't even consider the pain part. He gets up in the morning. He knows he is playing and he sort of puts the pain on the back burner.

Q. Pettitte at this time was saying beforehand that it seems like it has become an annual thing that he is rumored as trade bait. Why would that be for a lefthander with his credentials?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think probably because he doesn't have that knock-out stuff. He is more of a pitcher and it is unusual to have someone at his age in his limited experience to be as successful as he has been. If you look at how many games he has won, you know, during the course of the last three, four years it is really not too many people that can rival that, but I think basically because he doesn't throw the ball 95 miles an hour and he doesn't have knock-out strikeout stuff. But being left-handed and having the record that he has had, it is a little surprising that they should constantly talk about that. Plus a lot of it in today's business, you try to put a team together and consider the financial end and he is making a lot of money right now and he will make a lot of money next year and you try to put a puzzle together, basically. But it is unfortunate that he has to listen to that stuff all the time.

End of FastScripts….

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