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October 2, 2006

Joe Torre


Q. Joe with Mariano Rivera not working a lot in September, how much are you going to rely on him workload-wise because postseason has always been a time when he's worked more than one inning in a game sometimes, so what are you looking for with that the next few days?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, we're going in the post season with Mariano being a 9th inning pitcher, we feel we have enough support leading up with him to be able to do this. Again the issue he had with the elbow even though structurally he was fine, didn't have an issue with that, we just thought it was probably the sanest thing to do, so right now, we're talking 9th inning for Mariano. Don't rush him to do anything, you know, again, since he's come back we haven't had the issues, you know, we're not changing philosophy because of that. It is just once he was down for a period of time we just decided that's the way we were going to do it.

Q. Does that mean you won't ask him at all to get any four, five or six-out situations; your plan is to try and stay away from him?
JOE TORRE: You can't hear me all the way back there?

Q. I just want to be clear.
JOE TORRE: 9th inning, yeah.

Q. How adequate is Sheffield at first base?
JOE TORRE: He's more than adequate. He does fine. The fact that he started his career in the Major League level, even before that in the infield, you know, we felt that he -- the chances are that he could do that. Done Mattingly who is as good as they come, Larry Bowa, myself, you know, we started these classes, I guess you can say, I guess in Toronto. He just seems to be getting more and more comfortable, the fact that he can get to the ground ball, he's not afraid of the ground ball. He's not afraid of making a mistake, has a feel for playing the game basically. We just feel with all our options over there, all our options there, he's probably our best one.

Q. Farnesworth has had an up-and-down year I guess physically and performance-wise; how much do you trust him at this time of year and how is his back right now?
JOE TORRE: He's fine. Again, I don't think that's any secret. He's locked up, I think three or four times this year. If that's the case, when he gets up to warm up and again we don't really have a lot of forewarning to that. If it happens, then you know, somebody else will have to get up. But you know, I am confident if we get him out on the mound that he's certainly has the ability to do what we need to do to get to Moe. I am not going to really concern myself with problems because they have happened in the past. You pretty much -- especially when you get to postseason, you know, all hands on deck, is available and if something you know, changes then we just make adjustment. But I am confident in his ability and his stuff and everything else.

Q. What makes a team like the Tigers dangerous, a team like them sort of backed their way into the Playoffs?
JOE TORRE: They didn't back their way in. They had the best record for a reason, they won a lot of ball games. Yeah, they have cooled off lately since the All-Star break, the job that Jimmy has done with that ballclub in bringing along the young pitchers, and the fact that, you know, he had had contributions from a lot of different people, they are dangerous because you know, what they did early wasn't a fluke, you know. Right now certainly I think we all know they'd rather be home playing this game, but still, they -- they have come back from a couple of different slumps during the course of this year and they are dangerous because you know what their capabilities are. The arms on their pitchers, they really get your attention. They got our attention before this year and I think this year they are just a little bit better because of the, you know, the maturity factor and the addition of Kenny Rogers, I think that they are certainly a team that we have to be ready to play. We have to make sure we make them beat us as opposed to going out there and thinking, well, they lost yesterday, so they are not going to win tomorrow. We can't do that.

Q. How about Randy, what is his status?
JOE TORRE: Randy did work in the weight room today. He will play a little catch tomorrow. He's on the roster. We anticipate he's going to pitch on Friday. Again, I mean is he going to be -- you know, as healthy as he's ever been. Probably not. But is he going to be healthy enough to pitch? We feel he will be. Probably better than his last three or four starts because evidently he was pitching in spite of stuff during that time.

Q. In 2000 when you finished probably worse than the Tigers had finished you kept expressing confidence in your team, kept talking about there was a separation from the regular season and the Playoffs. Were you absolutely sure of that as you were saying at that point?
JOE TORRE: Well, you know, our -- we were -- we were in a different situation because it was either we were going to be in the Playoffs or we weren't. They were sure of a Playoff spot a while back so it a little bit different. Their worst-case scenario was coming here, and as far as you know, being the wildcard as opposed to being the not necessarily playing us, just the fact that they are on the road. We were a little different. We're trying to win because if I am not mistaken the wildcard was going to come from someplace else. I don't even remember that to be honest with you other than we felt we had to win and it turned out the Red Sox lost and that's what got us through the postseason.
But the reason I felt that the postseason would be different once we got through that is I knew we were better than that. I knew we were pressing, which is probably what the Tigers are doing, you know, in that regard it probably is the same. And then when it's all said and done on what you are actually going to do then you become the team you have been all year.
So I was confident in our club that once we got to postseason even though we struggled getting there, that the pressure, that type of pressure would be off and a different type of pressure would take over when the season would start over again.

Q. How has Alex Rodriguez looked in the last couple of weeks and how important is it for the Yankees as well as for him --
JOE TORRE: Alex is one of the nine guys in the lineup. He's been having fun over the last week or 10 days or two weeks, he seems to be very comfortable. And yeah, it's important for him to hit because he's one of our guys and we certainly need up and down that lineup to get contributions and to protect the guy in front of him and all that stuff. But hopefully Alex will just allow his ability to talk and if that's the case, then we feel pretty good. We all know, Alex is very conscientious, he would like to do tons of things and we feel that just to sort of allow things to happen more so than just trying to do too much is probably a better way to approach it.
Again you are not going to talk him into anything. It's just the fact that he seems more comfortable here over the last week or two.

Q. Going back a little bit. When you struggled down to the wire like you did in 2000 as the Tigers are doing, how hard is it to turn it back on when you get to the Playoffs; mental, physical or both?
JOE TORRE: See, I don't know a lot about -- I don't know a lot about the Tigers. I am not in their clubhouse. I don't know what physically, I mean, at the end of 162 games we're all dealing with something physical. You know, when we're in New York everybody knows about it. But the fact that whatever was causing stress or tension during the course of the year, that's behind you, you are still standing there with only a handful of teams at the end, so that automatically makes you feel pretty good about yourself.
So I think there's a combination. Certainly you want everybody to be able physically but the mental part is all about the starting the second season and realizing that this 3 out of 5 part of it is really stressful in another way.

Q. Have you decided on a fourth starter in the batting order?
JOE TORRE: I have got a batting order. I can't give you a fourth starter because we haven't decided if there's going to be a fourth game to begin with, and you know, then at that time when we need to we'll. Batting order is Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Sheffield, Giambi, Rodriguez, Matsui, Posada, Cano.

Q. Can you explain the four, five --
JOE TORRE: No. I mean, I can shake them up and pull them out of a hat, you know, as I told the players this morning when I held -- when I read it to them, I said I can hold it this way, this way, this way, this way, it doesn't bother me. But you have to put them in order and you know, that's we basically separated the lefties and you know, we let it fly.

Q. The guy they are going to be facing tomorrow has had success against you. A lot of times he's been a tough-luck loser. What do you think it is about him that has led to him having success against your lineup?
JOE TORRE: He's a good pitcher. That's what we have to deal with. We know they are capable of scoring a lot of runs. We certainly know that. But to me, their strength is where your strength needs to be in the post season, their pitching. And Dave Robertson, is a lefthander who you know, a little bit off, a little bit on, he's not afraid to throw strikes. He uses both sides of the plate. And I think the fact that he's able to mix it as well as he does, I think gives a lot of clubs trouble. Because it's all about timing and the pitchers's job and he does it very well, he gets to sort of disrupt that. But he has, you are right, he's pitched very well against us.

Q. You have mentioned Jeter's consistence. Specifically what are some of the things he's done that impressed you this season?
JOE TORRE: Well, a lot of the stuff he's done is no different than he's been doing for ten years before that. He's there every day. He's the same person every day. The only time you saw him maybe a little confused, more so than concern, was when he went in that 0 for 30 a couple of years ago. He never lacked for confidence. He just couldn't understand why it was going on for so long. He just seems to be able to play the game every day, and not really concern himself with what it looks like as much as what the results are. And he's very unique in that regard. I think any time a manager gets in a situation than -- if he's played professional ball, you sort of put yourself when you are trying to talk to players or relate to players, put yourself in the situation, in the shoes of the player you are thinking about, and at his age, I am sort of embarrassed to even talk about what I was all about at his age, but he's so responsible, he's been responsible and I think that's half the battle for him. He's not afraid to fail. He's not afraid to be unhappy because winning is so important for him. And he's been an example for not only the youngsters but his teammates for a long time.
In 1996, come about midway through the season, I found the Paul O'Neills and all those guys looking toward him, knowing that he could take us places, which is very unusual for someone 20, 21 years old.

Q. Melky Cabrera was one of the guys that pitched in this year and. Really helped the team out when Matsui and Sheffield went down with injuries. Has he shown you enough or did he show you enough during the course of the regular season both offensively and defensively you have confidence in him coming off the bench in this postseason?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think so. I don't think we're going to know until it happens. I don't think that's any secret. We did have a conversation with him. I know the media had asked me a couple of times: Have I talked to Melky; have I talked to him and I hadn't based on the fact that I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't know where Matsui was going to wind up at the time, but we did have a conversation, you know, I had I think Lee Mazzilli and Tony Pena and even Bobby Abreu because they spent a lot of time together in the room at the time of the conversation. I felt he was important for us whether he plays or doesn't play, because he can come off the bench -- I think he -- ability-wise I think he can come off the bench because of the fact that he's a switch-hitter, he doesn't seem to find the circumstance that scares him, and you know he has got some speed, he can do a lot of things for you and he seems to still be having fun.
I watched both he and Cano in that Boston series, and it was like they were over in the park playing games. They just seemed to really enjoy the competition, so hopefully that's the kind of guy we'll have coming off the bench.
Again, Matsui is certainly proven that he's completely over what his problem was. I am very comfortable watching him take at-bats but we know that Melky is there for us, wherever we need the support whether it's center or left.

Q. Because it's a departure from what you've been doing the last week or so; is there something in the matchups, is there a process whereby you can Sheff fourth and A-Rod sixth?
JOE TORRE: I just threw lineups together -- last week or so we were trying to have guys knock in 100 runs and lead the league in hitting. It really wasn't based on what we were going to do in the postseason. Nothing has changed. We did a lot of thinking and again this is not something that came to us you know, when we knew who was going to be available. We just started thinking about it of course the team you are playing, they have a couple of lefthanders coming out of the bullpen, couple of lefthanders in the starting rotation. We have a lot of lefthanders, so it was just a matter of which way you were going to line them up. We were comfortable with the 1, 2, 3 guys, you know, and we just feel that the way we lined them up after that's the way we'll start tomorrow. Again we're not married to anything. It is just what we feel we want to start with and we'll see where we go from there.

Q. Following up about Sheffield, obviously you have seen enough of him to feel confident to put him in the fourth slot, the brief comeback here. But was there anything more insofar as knowing his mindset and the fact that he's obviously got something to prove in a limited number of games to do it, knowing the way he is, did that have anything to do with --
JOE TORRE: Well, you know, obviously everybody in this room can say or write what they want. We have never in any way put anybody's, you know, other than who they are, their individual needs in front of what the team feels is the best thing for the team to make it a better team. I am not that complicated. I really didn't have a lot of going into it other than knowing how competitive he is, and I feel pretty comfortable with the way he's come back. I know I have had a lot of questions about first base, I know if something happens over there everybody is going to talk about the inexperience, nobody asked me about Andy Phillips screwing up a play at first base the other day, just understand things are liable to happen and you know, it's not because Sheffield is inexperienced that certain things happen, but as far as his ability to hit fourth we have seen it. I'm lucky to be a manager on a club that I can probably have six or seven guys hit fourth and just have to pick somebody, but I don't think there was anything in even -- that I am consciously aware of that initiated this move other than that this is the way I wanted to put it together.

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