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October 7, 2007

Joe Torre


Q. How difficult of a night do you think was this on Roger, having to walk off like that? And can you replace him on the roster under any of the new rules?
JOE TORRE: Well, that's being talked about now. Brian and I were in the office, and we're discussing that, you know, he wouldn't be eligible again until the World Series. So it's something we're discussing, and I can't give you, you know, I guess we have to ask permission and stuff.

Q. How hard was it to see him have to walk off like that?
JOE TORRE: I knew he had his hamstring wrapped after that inning before. And I guess when he went over for Kenny's bunt he felt it a little bit. So he got wrapped up, he was wrapped real tight. And it's, you know, I don't want to say it's heartbreaking, because he wouldn't want me to say that. But the way he goes out there, he was very unhappy when we took him out. Not the fact that, you know, he felt he could pitch more, it was just the fact that he was there to do a job, and he was really upset that he had to leave at that point in time.

Q. Could you just talk about Hughes coming in to those circumstances? You're already behind, and then giving you nearly four innings like he gave you.
JOE TORRE: This kid showed us something the other day when he pitched in Game 1 and did a heck of a job. Then to come in the way he did, and he obviously is not used to coming out of the bullpen. Then once he settled in after that first inning, I mean, he looked like a seasoned pro out there. I can't say more than that. When we took him out, you know, he looks you right in the eye and you know he was happy that he was able to give us those innings.
But you look in his eye and it wasn't a surprise to him, and to me, that's a pretty good indication of what this kid's got.

Q. With the five-run lead with Chamberlain, what went into using him for the second inning there?
JOE TORRE: Well, that was a situation that we knew we could come back with him tomorrow again. At that point in time, he had thrown 25 pitches the other day. Mo had thrown 34, and I was more leaning toward trying to get away without using Mo than that. I felt maybe we could use Mo a little longer if we needed to tomorrow, which if we need to tomorrow we will anyway. That was my thinking. And if anything had gone wrong, if I had brought somebody else in in that 8th inning, then you'd have to rush Mo in in the 8th inning, and that is certainly not something I wanted to do.

Q. Can you talk about what kind of an emotional day this was for you from start to finish?
JOE TORRE: It's an emotional day because losing is no fun in postseason. It's like everything's going 200 miles an hour.
As far as the comments from Mr. Steinbrenner. I mean, I don't want to say you ever get used to it. But you work here, you understand the pressure everybody's under to win all the time. The only thing I try to do is allow my players to roll the dice out there and play, because every time we go to postseason there's nothing that's going to satisfy anybody unless you win the World Series. And that's very difficult. Those are very difficult situations for the players to play under. I understand the requirements here, but the players are human beings, and it's not machinery here. Even though they get paid a lot of money, it's still blood that runs through their veins. And my job is to try to get them to be the players they are by, you know, allowing them to understand that the best effort you can give is all you can do.
But as far as anything else that went into today, you know, this is a very uncomfortable time of year. It's an exciting time of year. Any time you win a ballgame in the postseason, it's exciting. You understand that there's no safety net. For a guy that never got to postseason as a player, I'm having a hell of a lot of fun when you look back on the whole thing.

Q. Equally important, I guess was the way your hitters finally showed their true colors after facing all that gas in Cleveland and coming here. I'm not taking anything away from Westbrook, but it was a little different look for them.
JOE TORRE: Yeah, Westbrook is a tough competitor. He had those three double-plays. I think once we all of a sudden opened up the other side of the field, that made the difference in that inning. Because you had Melky get the base hit that way, and Robby hit the ball down the left field line. You know, and Matsui got a base hit to left field. All of a sudden, they were taking what Jake was going to give us at that point. It looked like we were trying to be too big and do too much against Westbrook before that. I mean, he was getting a lot of groundballs.
So I was pleased with the way we sort of made adjustments.

Q. Are you going with Wang?
JOE TORRE: Yes, Wang -- where is she? Wang's pitching tomorrow.

Q. Can you go into your explanation?
JOE TORRE: Well, he's a 19-game winner, he's pitched well at the Stadium, and we relied on him so much. Taking nothing away from Moose. Moose hasn't pitched in a while. Certainly I made him aware before the game that we'll decide later who is going to pitch. And he was comfortable with that. And I just told him afterwards that it was going to be Wanger, and he said, fine.
So he'll be the one backing up tomorrow as Hughes was today.

Q. And you talked before the game about wanting to switch the momentum. Do you feel like you did that with this win? And do you consider this now a series?
JOE TORRE: Well, yeah, it has to be. Any club that's in the postseason certainly is capable of winning three games in a row. But we have to make sure that we still stay focused on what we need to do tomorrow. We get a chance to come back tomorrow and win a ballgame and build more momentum. Because we understand if we win tomorrow, we have to go back over to Cleveland. And we didn't have a good memory over there.
So we have to make sure that we don't get too far ahead of ourselves.

Q. The double-plays took you out of two rallies early in the game. You talked about how you opened up left field in the 5th inning, but you still at that point had not had the big, big hit. Did you feel like Damon's hit was spell breaking?
JOE TORRE: Johnny is such a good pressure guy. He's so good. He lays and waits, and I watched that very familiar swing from '04 when he did it against us with the bases loaded. You know, he sits there. He's got a very clear mind. He has a plan. And of course the pitcher has to throw a strike. He's ahead in the count 2-0, and you know, there it is. He's been huge. I mean, he certainly has had a lot of practice playing here for the last couple of years up there in Boston. The type of pressure he's played under for all this time. Then when Johnny started getting healthy, you could see the difference he made in our ballclub. We do whatever we can to keep him in the lineup. Now he's been playing left field on a regular basis, and it certainly has been agreeing with him.

Q. Did you hear anything in the dugout, was anything said on the bench about winning this game for you so you could stay?
JOE TORRE: If they did, they did it under their breath. No, no. These guys understand. They understand what happens here. As I say, we had a meeting before the game, and that certainly wasn't talked about. We just wanted everybody to give themselves a chance to succeed, that's all. That's the only thing we brought up to them and try not, again, try not to think of having to win all the games left in the series. But just try to win one and see if we can get a little momentum on our side and get our confidence back. And scoring the eight runs, and getting double digits and hits, we feel pretty good about ourselves right now. And we're going to rely, as we always do, on Wanger out there tomorrow.

Q. Your young guys have come through so much for you this year with Hughes, Chamberlain, Melky and Wang, can you talk about the contributions of lifting this team up when they need it?
JOE TORRE: I can't say enough. Because we started playing well when Melky was put in the outfield. Last year he was a big part of the ballclub, and the reason we won the division. He gives us energy. He was feeling bad about himself there for a few days after the first loss, and feeling he wasn't contributing. We talked about it, and he came out with a little more fire in his belly the other day.
But these kids, you talk about being force fed. I can't say enough. I remember Phil Hughes over here, I remember telling him in spring training, I said, I know there is a lot of talk about you playing at this level. I said, you're not going to start the season with us, I said, but there may be some day this year that somebody's going to tap you on the shoulder and say it's your turn. I certainly didn't envision that as coming out of the bullpen in a Division Series.
But, I mean, he took it and was certainly focused and was very calm for a youngster with the inexperience and all that. I just can't say enough about him. And then the rest of the youngsters.

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