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October 7, 2007

Eric Wedge


Q. There's a lot of bad relief pitching in baseball these days, but you seem to have avoided that. How did you build a bullpen, and especially the Perez-Betancourt part of it, and what have they meant to you?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, Perez and Betancourt have been a very big part of our bullpen. But I think any bullpen starts with a closer. What Joe Borowski has done for us this year has been tremendous. It's involved a lot of strength in personality as well as experience. Betancourt right along with him has been about as good as you can be in that set-up role. And then Rafael Perez came up about mid-season and has done a great job. And Aaron Fultz has been pretty consistent with us with some experience. Jensen Lewis has pitched meaningful innings for us. We've had guys really step up.
I think it's important for people to understand that it does start with a closer because it allowed other people to maintain and have success in roles that they need to have success in. And if you can do that, it will hopefully establish some consistency for you.

Q. There's been some debate from MVP voters looking at your team kind of where to go. Can you speak to what Victor Martinez has meant to your team, and the year he's had.
ERIC WEDGE: Well, Victor's been our most consistent offensive player this year. I feel like we've got some great offensive players. But if you look at 162 games, and just what he has meant to us. I don't just mean from the offensive side, because you talk about position players, with the exception of the DH, you've got to talk about their entire game. What Victor's done for us behind the plate and handling the pitching staff, the leadership that he's shown on and off the field. And the emotion that goes along with that.
But he's just been very consistent with his game defensively, fundamentally as well as handling the staff. And then offensively as well. So I can't say enough about us being able to count on him this year.

Q. Can you talk about your decision, why Trot Nixon today?
ERIC WEDGE: We don't have a great deal of experience with Roger. Trot has more than anybody. He's had some success. He knows Yankee Stadium. He understands where we're at as a ballclub right now, and where we're at just in regard to the postseason. I think he deserves to be in there today. He's a guy that really kicked things off for us leadership-wise earlier this year. And, you know, he's had some big hits for us. He's meant so much to us on and off the field. And when you talk about the experience that he brings to our lineup today along with Kenny, you know, outside of that, we don't have a whole lot of experience with Roger.
So just felt like it was a good time to get him in there and, hopefully, help us have some success today.

Q. There's a story out today that Steinbrenner said if the Yankees don't advance, Joe Torre's job is on the line. Can you imagine working under that type of situation? And also, just your impressions of the job Joe Torre's done?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, Joe Torre, to me, is one of the greatest managers of all time. I think he's a fantastic human being, and I've got nothing but respect for him.
You know, when you talk about the game of baseball right now, I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact that we've got some tremendous, historic Major League managers that are still in this game. And Joe Torre's right up there at the top of the list. So that's as far as I'll go with that, but I think you understand how I feel.

Q. You said yesterday that you wouldn't bring pitchers back on short rest. If there is a Game 4, can you just talk about Paul Byrd, and what he's done?
ERIC WEDGE: Yeah, Paul, very consistent for us this year, 15 games. Won 15 games, excuse me. You know, a guy that we could count on. Was very consistent with his stuff. You know, again, another guy with experience and postseason experience. And a great understanding of what he needs to do to be successful, and really that's everything to us. It's more important to us about what we do and about ourselves just in regard to how we play, and what we need to do individually versus who we're playing and where we're playing. And Paul does a good job with that, as well as a number of our guys.

Q. Going back to Martinez for a second, do you think he gets enough credit nationally for what he's done? And where would you rank him among the other catchers in the league?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I think he's one of the best catchers in the game. Especially if you look at the all-around game, he was second or third in regard to throwing runners out this year. That was the only thing he was ever really criticized for. So you talk about a guy going after something and getting better. Offensively he is without a doubt one of the best hitting catchers in the game.
In regard does he get the respect he deserves? I don't know. I don't get too caught up in it. His teammates and his peers in the game respect him, and there is nothing more important than that.

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