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October 3, 2006

Joe Torre


Q. Could you just give us a little recap of your history of your relationship with Jim Leyland?
JOE TORRE: Well, just you know, I remember -- well, actually, I interviewed for the Pittsburgh job, and they made a mistake and they hired Jimmy, obviously. I got to know him when I was managing the Cardinals.
He was quite a guy. About as honest as the day is long. His feel for the game is second to none as far as I'm concerned. Gets the players attention. And you know, he puts his heart and soul into it all the time and I think that's why he had to walk away for a while.
But, in fact, I just came off the field with him and I said, I know aside from what has gone on here in the last week or so, did you enjoy yourself this year; he had a great time. It's just a professional relationship and, you know, we've been out socially a time or two.

Q. At least statistically, there's a stretch in the second half of the season where Mussina looks like he was not the pitcher you had for much of the first half. Could you talk about what was going on during that period and is he back to where you need him to be?
JOE TORRE: Moose is fine. He had a groin problem and pitched a couple of different starts where about the end of five innings it started to grab on him.
But we put him on the disabled list, which was probably the smartest thing for us to do because we were not tempted to say, are you ready, are you ready, are you ready. So we pretty much protected ourselves against doing that. We feel pretty good about his last couple of starts; his stuff seems to be short.
Again, he's not a power pitcher. He relies a great deal on control and being able to command the strike zone with a lot of different pitches.
But I'm very comfortable where he is right now.

Q. You've won championships this time of year with teams built around pitching and defense. Is this a different experience for you managing a team that's so potent in hitting and relying on hitting?
JOE TORRE: This is an interesting ballclub we have this year, because we've had over the last few years more like a power team. And Don Mattingly and I talked in the off-season about the fact that, you know, if we get into the post-season play, we're going to have to do more than that because you're going to be facing the cream of the crop and we have to be able to move runners and things like that.
Starting spring training, you had the Baseball Classic to deal with, so we had a lot of young players. But we had, every single one of our guys, hit-and-run one or time or another in Spring Training; Sheffield, Giambi; basically get the message across that we have to do other things besides sit back and whack at it.
This club, with the addition of Bobby Abreu and what Robinson Cano has brought to the table, has given us a diversified type of offense, and hopefully, you know, we make it tough on the opposing pitcher. We just feel that we can do a lot of things right now.

Q. Can you just talk about how the intensity goes up around here in the stadium once the post-season starts, and do you think the fans have a little more anticipation and more energy because it's been a while since you've gone all the way?
JOE TORRE: Well, they are spoiled like I am. I've been here 11 years and we've been in the post-season every year, and the first, you know, five years, we won the World Series four times.
But there's really nothing like this stadium when you get into post-season play. Yogi warned me about that a number of years ago. The fans are knowledgeable. They let you know what they like and don't like. They are easy to forgive. They help you up when you are down and this time of year, they know what they want to see.
This time of year, the intensity is very high. We feel very comfortable at home and very driven and we have to make sure we take nothing for granted just because we have them on our side.

Q. I was going to ask you, having the media consider the Yankees a dynamo, they are talking about sweeps on the radio and television today.
JOE TORRE: I love it. (Laughter.) I wish to hell that was true and we could stay home and do something else besides come to the ballpark, right, if it's that easy. Go ahead, I'm sorry.

Q. Is that different from other years? Have you faced this same challenge; everybody is talking about how you are going to steamroll to the title.
JOE TORRE: I think a lot of it had to do with what Detroit has gone through over the last, you know, week or so. They steamrolled in the first half and they have a lot of young players, and they have been working hard and they have come up short here. I'm assuming that they are thinking because of our lineup, which you know, who can't win with that lineup and stuff like that, that we are supposed to do this.
But it's based on pitching and Santana -- he lost today -- you need to pitch to be successful. You need to pitch, you need to catch the ball. Obviously what Detroit did in the first half, dismantling just about everybody they played, the capabilities are there, and believe me, this ballclub is not taking anything for granted, our team. Because we've talked about it, we understand why we've been successful, that we have to work on it and take nothing for granted and don't think because we have success that it's going to be there because we are who we are. We are who we are because we've worked at it and hopefully that continues.

Q. Did you have a chance to talk with Girardi last night or today, and if so, what was the conversation?
JOE TORRE: I talked to Joey yesterday. You know, he was telling me about the press conference and, you know, the fact that he was going to be fired. He seemed pretty, you hate to say, content or whatever. He's disappointed, obviously, because it was his first job and he basically poured his lifeblood into that job which he'll do in his next job, too.
He understood that managing is not always based on how well you do. There are certain things you need to do, and people you need to please, and you know, he was pretty -- there was no anger, let's put it that way. I don't know how to describe him. I don't want to say content because that's not part of his makeup.
But there was no anger. He just sort of understood what was going to happen and he was going to take some time and if something else came down the pike, certainly look at it.

End of FastScripts...

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