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October 4, 2006

Joe Torre

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Game Two (Postponed)

Q. The question about being a catcher when the other team has a great lineup, something you had to do often in your catching career. I just wonder if you might have a story for us from Forbes Field, Crosby Field, Candlestick Park, some day where you just remember what an agony it was just to try to keep trying to get out one great hitter.
JOE TORRE: You know, the trick, Yogi is probably the best at doing it I've ever seen, getting up there and try to distract the hitter.
There was one thing I did to Tim McCarver one time, he told me before the game, "Stop talking to me. I don't want you to talk to me anymore."
I said, "Okay, I won't talk to you."
In his first at-bat, as John Matlack -- not John Matlack, but whoever was pitching started warming up and was ready to let go of that first pitch, I said, "I promise I'm not going to say a word." He just sort of ducked his head down, ball came down the middle, strike one.
Better story, Willie Mays. Willie, you tried to distract him, you wouldn't put signs down so he would get anxious because you knew he wanted to hit. One time I talked to him, asked him a question and as he was answering me, he hit a ball out of the ballpark. That's how uptight he was.

Q. Did Randy throw today?
JOE TORRE: Randy threw I guess about noon, 12:30, he threw 30 to 35 pitches. Everything seemed fine. He's ready to go. He's probably in the air right now heading to Detroit. So we're on for Friday.

Q. Can you compare Randy Johnson over the last two years that you have managed him to the guy you've faced in the 2001 World Series?
JOE TORRE: Obviously he's a couple of years older. But I think the Randy Johnson this year is probably more comfortable with his surroundings than he was last year at this time.
He, you know, again, coming in, you think everybody has some preconceived notion of what it's like to be on a different team, and the different team happens to be the Yankees. You certainly want to be yourself, but you certainly understand that every single thing gets attention here.
I think he was able to get through that last year, and, you know, right, wrong or indifferent, he came with a different attitude in the spring and he's been a lot more comfortable here.
Again, he's still trying to find his niche as far as being consistent. You know, when you've pitched as long as he has and you're used to throwing the ball 97, 98 miles an hour all the time, a time comes when you realize you're going to have to win with less velocity. And I think he, you know, got to that point this year, he and Ron Guidry spend a lot of time together. Guidry was a left-handed power pitcher and I think they had some things in common, other than how big they are. And the fact of the matter is, the relationship has really flourished and I think he's faced the reality of the fact that the quality of starts is not going to be judged on how many strikeouts he has.

Q. In your conversations with Jason Giambi, how much do you think he's simply getting through the wrist injury, and also, how much of a relief is it that he doesn't have to play first base and wear a glove, catch throws and turn?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think we're probably better served and he is, also, by not having to play first base. Being the gloved hand, again, he feels it every once in awhile, it's not something with the pain it was at one time. But the fact of the matter is if he takes throw after throw and does different things over there, that's more action than you really need to have.
So you know, I think we're very fortunate, first of all, to be in this league and to be able to use a DH, and to have him sit in that role, because he's had some good at-bats for us lately. Again, four or five at-bats a game, the fact of the matter; it doesn't wear on you as much as having to go out there and play defense, too.

Q. How do you explain the fact that your team does better in Division Series when you lose the first game than when you win it?
JOE TORRE: Don't tell me that. I really don't know.
Well, I think the fact that you're there a lot, and the experience, there's no question the experience when you lose a game in the post-season helps you to be able to put it away and come back the next day. I think that's probably the main reason that we've been able to rebound from bad first games or bad results in first games. Other than that, you know, it's the luck of the draw. You certainly go out there. I'm not saying that's all right if we lose, we're okay; it's such a short series, you never like to give anybody a leg up on you.
But the one thing about it, once you get that momentum, you never want to lose it. You know we've done it two different ways now. We had Oakland beat us twice here in a five-game series and had to go back to Oakland and beat them twice and come back and win a game. Momentum carries over. And then the Red Sox did it to us in 2004 where we had leads in games 4 and 5 and couldn't put it away, and all of the sudden, you lose a couple of games in a row in post-season, it sort of chips away at the confidence that you need to have.

Q. Not to keep bringing this up, but last night, I read somewhere where you were saying after last night's game, you were thinking about maybe there could be situations in this post-season where you would use Rivera in more than one inning. Is that different than what you said at the beginning or --
JOE TORRE: Why am I used to this in this town? No, I'm not getting on you. Kiddingly I say, unless I panic, you never know what's going to happen.
Right now our concern for Mariano is health issues. He's fine. The thing that sort of stirred this thing up with the elbow is the fact that he did pitch the eighth and then go back out there for the ninth and just became tougher for him to loosen up for the second time.
And then when we did shut him down for that three-week period, because we didn't anticipate it taking three weeks to get the pain out. Thank goodness the structure was fine. There was no structural damage. Everything was muscular.
But the fact that it lasted that long and it took -- you know, I won't say it took it's toll on them but the fact that we had to wait that long, we certainly don't want to go there anymore. I don't anticipate an eighth and ninth inning scenario for him at all. As I say, I may have said something, you know, unless you panic, which is something I say once in awhile. But I don't intend to do that.

Q. I know you can't control it, the weather, how is that a factor tonight if it does rain and there's some kind of a delay for Mike?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think both pitchers and both managers hate the thought of, you know, rain delays, especially if it happens after about three or four innings, because then it becomes a real problem. I think if it's in one inning and it rains, you know, you probably have a better chance of getting your starter back out there again.
We've had a couple of different forecasts. One that says it's going to rain at 8:15 and the other one says it's going to rain at 9:30. I don't know if we have our choice on which one we want. But it's such -- obviously, unpredictable and probably the more intelligent we get in all these areas, the less we can predict it.
But it's tough if it gets into the game a little bit.

Q. When you watch Robinson as a young player, do you see a little bit of Jeter in him just the way he carries himself?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think the calmness and the comfort with who he is as far as ability. I think I see that type of behavior or attitude or personality as a lot like Derek.
You know, Derek is just a guy that goes out there and loves the competition. Robinson maybe shows it a little more, he and Cabrera both, as evidenced in that Boston series. These kids went out and did very well for us and it was like they were playing in the street someplace and having a choose-up game. Derek maybe doesn't show as much as they seem to.

Q. The way you alternate the left and right-handed hitters throughout the lineup, how much of that is so that a left-handed reliever doesn't come in and face two lefties in a row?
JOE TORRE: That's part of it. You have a couple of left-hand starters and just from experience, left-handers pitch left-handers one way and pitch right-handers another way. And I guess if you stack them, it's easier for them, as it would be for a reliever coming in as far as the approach they would take.
So the fact that we can split them and the fact that our left-handers have always played against left-handed pitchers makes me feel pretty good about the at-bats they are going to have. You know, you hope for the best result, but you feel good about the patience they show.

Q. Having seen how bad post-season slumps can be, individual players take too much on themselves, how important was it to see so many of your players get off to such a good start last night?
JOE TORRE: That's a great question, because you come in and you know the Tigers showed up here after losing I think four or five in a row. Everybody that you talk to, it's like a no-brainer that we're going to win. You know you feel good about your team, that's for sure. But you never really know until the game starts on where they are. You know, whether they are too high, whether they are too calm, whatever it is.
But last night I thought the quality of our at-bats, you know, made me feel the trust that I felt all year with these guys; that, sure, it's the post-season, and their behavior and their approach has been just like it's been during the season.

Q. When it's all said and done on Moose's career, he may be a Hall of Famer, but yet sometimes I think he may be taken for granted or overlooked just a little bit. Why do you think that is?
JOE TORRE: I think he likes it. He's a little like the personality of Andy Pettitte, where Andy, you know, you would trust him as much as you would trust any of the guys who got more attention. I think they would rather be outside the spotlight. I know when he came over here, he seemed very comfortable not being considered the opening day starter and things like that. Not that he certainly doesn't shy away from the responsibility. He showed us that a couple of years ago when he came in with nobody out, first and third against the Red Sox, the pressure of the game doesn't bother him, but I don't think he's crazy about the attention.

End of FastScripts...

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