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October 4, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. When you remember what Mussina did against the Red Sox in Game 7 last year, do you think in some ways that alters whatever perception people had of him as a playoff performer before that?

JOE TORRE: That's a good question. I remember telling Roger Clemens after he pitched Game 3 in the World Series in 2001, you never have to defend yourself again, because he pitched a huge game for us and won the ballgame. But it's interesting how we have real good players or great players, and because they haven't achieved that one success that everybody seems to want to achieve, then for some reason, there's something missing, John Elway-like. I think when he came in in that ballgame out of the bullpen and did what he did, again, he doesn't have to prove himself again as far as pitching under stress, under pressure because there was no more pressure he could have experienced than that night, for sure.

Q. Have you made a decision on Giambi in terms of the roster yet?

JOE TORRE: You know what, we're still talking about it. It's a matter of taking 11 pitchers, and obviously we're considering Duque's situation, and the choices I have right now is Jason and I've talked to Jason and just told him -- I'm telling him what I -- I told him what I'm telling you, with El Duque, it's still, you know, Friday is the end of the week and that's a long time to try predict what's going to happen. So if we feel that there is a possibility that he could pitch for us, then we'll take the 11 pitchers. And this way we're really not hamstrung if he isn't going to be able to pitch for us, because we would have ten and we'd just be out without the player. That's the way we're leaning right now but we have not officially done that.

Q. Can you talk about the contributions of A-Rod and Sheffield, two new players to your team this year?

JOE TORRE: I think A-Rod had a tougher time. I think Sheffield probably had an easier time because A-Rod was here and he really was under the radar most of the season. But A -Rod, you know, to come into this situation, especially having almost gone to Boston, he had so much attention focused on him that I think he just had trouble just locking in. But it took some time. He's comfortable, obviously, with the environment. But again, though he gets a lot of attention, I think it's a different type of attention you get here with the Yankees. But he started getting comfortable. We changed the batting order and, you know, I don't know if it's a coincidence or what, but he just seemed to settle in in the Number 2 spot and felt pretty comfortable. You look at his numbers, his numbers are terrific. And I think of late, probably in the last, what, six weeks or so, he's really made an impact on real significant RBIs.

Q. Wondering if you have your lineup for tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I do. It's Jeter, Alex, Sheffield, Bernie Williams will hit fourth, Posada fifth, Matsui sixth, Sierra will DH at seventh, Olerud at eighth and Cairo.

Q. With the questions you addressed before Giambi, El Duque, where is your confidence going into this season, as opposed to seasons gone by?

JOE TORRE: You mean post-season?

Q. Yeah.

JOE TORRE: I feel good about where we are right now. We're very comfortable. When I say "comfortable," doesn't mean we're taking some for granted but it's comfortable with who we are right now and how we're playing. The one thing about it, when you have a veteran club, you don't get lost in the shuffle on who you don't have. You basically deal with what you have and how well you can do. But we're playing well now. We're missing a couple of key pieces with El Duque at the present time and Jason. But again, we have some -- we have a pretty deep bench. When you're dealing with Ruben Sierra, he's pretty significant. Kenny Lofton, pretty significant. So we're fine, we're fine. Obviously we wish we had those guys at full strength but that's not the case. But confidence-wise, we feel pretty good about ourselves.

Q. Is Vasquez healthy and is he a possibility?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, Javier is healthy. I think you've got just the first two game pitchers. We're going to think about it. I think Brownie is a possibility. Javier is certainly a possibility. Duque is an outside shot, but if he's on the roster, he certainly is a possibility because that would be the reason we put him on. But yes, he is healthy. If he's not healthy, we don't know about it.

Q. Has El Duque played catch yet and is he the guy for Game 3 that you're keying in on?

JOE TORRE: We don't know. We don't know if Game 3 is in the cards yet for him. He probably is playing catch now. I think he may try to throw bullpen tomorrow. But again, we put him on the roster, we're hopeful that he'll be able to pitch by the weekend. As far as, you know, starting or being available or whatever, I think we have to wait till what we see between now and then.

Q. If he's not available and it comes down to Brown and Vasquez do you have any thoughts on what order you would pitch them, 3 and 4?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't. Because Brownie off the other day, you know, it was really a lift for us, especially after El Duque the night before. And Brownie feels good today. He felt good Sunday, which was a really important -- because he had pitched Saturday. You know, Brownie has the experience, there's no question. He's pitched in the post-season before. All of those things are in his favor. We know Javier is probably the healthiest of the two. We feel, I know Mel and I do, that we still trust this young man and we know there's one thing he doesn't have is any kind of fear, so it's a decision we haven't made yet otherwise we would have announced it to you. They are certainly -- there are decisions that have to be made and they are both in the mix.

Q. If it is 11 pitchers, Jason will not be on the roster?


Q. So Crosby would be?

JOE TORRE: Right, Crosby is on the roster.

Q. And pitching is what has defined you guys, particularly in the post-season but the way the season has gone, in your minds are you leaning more on the offense than in the past years?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know it's interesting, when we pitch, I don't really pay attention to the offense. We don't pitch, I say, "Come on guys, let's score some runs." I think we have come to rely more on the offense than in past years, yes. You know, I think with the number of come-from-behind victories we've had this year, I think we have abilities this year that we have not had in the past, to be able to come back in a game, even if we are down, you know, four, five, six runs, we've done that. Again, you certainly don't want to go into -- especially post-season when you're facing the cream of the crop and thinking that's the way you're going to win. The advantage is, that we have that ability, which we don't have in the past.

Q. The way he's performed lately, has Tanyon supplanted Quatrill for that role?

JOE TORRE: I don't want to say "supplanted." He's given us another option and is a safety net so to speak. Tanyon, we still obviously like him and Paul, in his behalf, he has not pitched totally healthy from that first game when he banged legs, you know, with A-Rod, but he's made some strides. I think he just needs to refine what he has, but Sturtze has a little different look than he does. We brought him out of that bullpen, and I don't think at this point we'd hesitate at all in bringing him out in the 7th inning or 6th inning. He would have the ability, depending on the score of the game, to come in in the 6th or 7th and take you the rest of the way, and that's something Quantrill would not do for us.

Q. Because it's a short series, does it amplify the challenge when you're facing a guy as dominant at Santana has been in the second half of the season?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, being in the Eastern Division, we are pretty used to facing dominant pitchers. When you go to Boston, you play them 19 times and every time you look up it's either Pedro or Schilling. I think it's good conditioning. It's never something you look forward to. But Santana has had, not a remarkable year, because you saw he had ability and it's just he's refining it right now. Being left-handed makes it that much more impressive. But we know we've got our work cut out for us tomorrow. We certainly have to make sure we have quality at-bats. We can't go up there and be impatient because he's got all the tools. You know, he has a great changeup, fastball, breaking ball and he can locate the ball pretty much anywhere he wants. He looked so confident the other day when he pitched against us, the second half of the year has been remarkable. We know it's a challenge. It's important. We're playing at home. We feel that we need to win that game.

Q. What's it like going into this post-season without Roger and without Andy? Ron Gardenhire was saying that the Twins feel more confidence not having to face those guys who gave them so much trouble in the past?

JOE TORRE: I never lived there. The fact that when you have the pitchers on your staff and those are the people you go to war with, it's been that way every year. We didn't have John Wetteland after he won the MVP in the World Series in '96 and David Cone was gone, Jimmy Key was gone. It's something that we're used to have happening to us. Andy was a little bit of a surprise because he was here before I got here and it's the first year we've done it without him and obviously he's had some physical problems in Houston. You know, you don't sit there and say, I wish we had this guy or that guy. It's who you have and this is where you go. In spring training my only concern was we didn't have the depth we've had in the past. When I look back and win 100 games, the fact that we were without Moose for a period of time and without Brownie for a long period of time and Vasquez for a period of time and El Duque didn't come till the All-Star Break, you wonder how you won a hundred games. But I think that's saying something about how this ballclub performs.

Q. You talked about Santana a little bit ago, do you see him as a serious Cy Young contender?

JOE TORRE: No question. No question. Sandy Koufax, another left-hander, used to put up numbers like that. Those numbers don't exist anymore. When you look at a pitcher's numbers now where you used to judge them by having an ERA in the 2.0s, now if someone is having a year and he's in the low 4.0s, you're saying, that's a pretty good year. Years ago, that 4.0 didn't get it done. But when you're down where he is, that's pretty damned impressive. I'm sure he's going to get serious consideration for the Cy Young.

Q. The significance of winning Game 1 tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: Well, I remember saying this a few years ago, it's very important, considering we're at home, but if we don't happen to win it, I'll be in here telling you it's not that important. In a short series, every single game, you talk to your players about making sure you're prepared to play and don't take anything for granted because every little thing gets magnified and you really don't have much room to breathe in these games. But we're playing at home, hopefully that gives us an advantage but it's is still going to come down to Mike Mussina and Johann Santana, and I think that's what's going to set the tempo for the game. You know, I don't know if it was an advantage or disadvantage facing him the other day because he certainly had his own way, but at least it gave us a little peek anyway and they had the same advantage with Moose.

Q. Alex went through a period in the beginning of the year where he looked like he was just trying too hard. Do you have to guard against that same type of thing going into the post-season as a Yankee?

JOE TORRE: Oh, after I see it, I won't tell him it's not important or don't try hard. I think he's in a pretty good frame of mind. You know, if we see something that's evidence of that, we'll try to, you know, make the perspective something that can be grabbed on to. The one thing about it, I know Andy Pettitte did it in '96, he pitched awful in Game 1 of the World Series and he thought he had to do something different. He already won 20 games as a starter and thought he had to do something different. It's still the same game but just means more. If you put that in your head about meaning more, then you're going to try so hard that you're not going to be yourself. It's not that easy to do. It's that being intense without being tentative and that's something that takes a little practice.

Q. Have you settled on your number-three starter, and also, Duque can't go in Game 4, what would that mean for you?

JOE TORRE: Well, we have not. We announced Moose and Lieber for the first two. We have Brown, Vasquez and Duque, and if -- we haven't really set on carrying 11 pitchers. We are almost there, but we haven't committed to that totally at this point, but we're making a decision on El Duque with the chance that is he'll feel well enough by the weekend to pitch. And in doing that, we would eliminate Jason Giambi from the squad. But we're -- we have not decided on Game 3, and that I'm telling you honestly. Mel and I are still talking about it, and we may wait until we leave here on Wednesday night.

Q. What are the factors?

JOE TORRE: You know what, I don't know what the factors are, to be honest with you. We're certainly talking about guys and they all bring something to the table. Duque, obviously his physical well-being is one thing. Brownie, physical well-being, and he hasn't, you know, pitched a lot. We really got our eyes opened the other day, and again, it doesn't matter that you're pitching against a team that's not contending; it's just what you see from the pitcher. He came through that game very comfortably and could have gone longer. Mel decided that he didn't need to, so his experience in post-season and obviously his ability adds into that. And Javier is probably the healthiest of the three. We certainly would trust him, but I think we have all of this stuff to digest and then make a decision. But we have not made a decision and we're not keeping anything from you.

Q. Is it how you are in the series?

JOE TORRE: It's possible. It's possible. But I think it's going to be more health-related than leg-up type stuff.

End of FastScripts...

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