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October 14, 2008

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe Torre.

Q. I was wondering, what was the rationale or thinking or thought process about canceling the workout today?
JOE TORRE: It was a very emotional game last night. Guys were down. And it was just based on the fact that just get away from it for a day and just get your thoughts back and come back out here on Wednesday, which is tomorrow, and just be ready to play.
I just thought that just getting away from it would be better than just coming out here and taking batting practice. Mattingly and I talked yesterday before the game. Batting practice at this point in the season just becomes habit more so than anything else.
I just thought getting away from it would probably benefit them more than anything else.

Q. I wanted to get your impression of the Phillies. They don't have -- I think it's 118 combined for Howard and Rollins and they're winning and how do you account for that sort of thing?
JOE TORRE: Their bullpen has done a great job. Their bullpen has done a great job and we've done a good job in the middle of their lineup. But they live by the home run. Again, batting average doesn't mean anything if all of a sudden, bang, you have a two-run homer, bang, you have a two-run homer.
We knew that going in that they were an explosive ball club and they could jump back into the game at any time. But I think overall that our pitching is handling a good part of what they do. But look back to Game 1, the two home runs, we lose the ball game.
Last night was similar. So they're pretty much following what their personality is. But, again, any time -- if you make a mistake with a lot of ball clubs, it's a single or a double. With this ball club it's a long ball.

Q. The media, the fans, the game last night was as second-guessed as any game, certainly of recent memory here. Do you review any of the decisions you made, go over that stuff?
JOE TORRE: I usually do that before I make the decisions. Which question do you want to --

Q. Whether it's to remove the decision to take Lowe out or to take Park out, things like that. I'm sorry, Kuo.
JOE TORRE: Kuo, first off, with Derek on short rest, where he was in the 70s pitch count-wise, we were going to send him back out in the inning. We scored big runs in the inning and it became a little longer, and the fact that I was going to bring Kershaw and I just felt better with starting an inning clean with him as opposed to maybe getting in a little trouble if that was going to be the case and bring him in. I knew that was going to be his last inning.
We got through that one, and then we had it where we wanted it anyway. We had a two-run lead. You had Kuo pitching the 7th and he was obviously electric, the way he pitched the 7th. He went out for the 8th I watched his first three warm-up pitches and they just looked like he had a tough time getting loose. And then I watched him pitch to Howard. That's why I took him out.
He just wasn't as -- I don't want to say as good, because he tries hard all the time. But I don't think the ball was coming out of his hand as easy and that's why I removed him in that part of the game.

Q. If he had gotten Howard --
JOE TORRE: I probably would have left him in for another hitter. Maybe it would have come. But at that point in time, especially going to Cory Wade who has been so good for us, I had no problem with that.

Q. Just to follow up, Joe, on your ride home from the ballpark or when you wake up in the morning, do you replay things, wonder what might have happened if you went a different way?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, you wish the result was different. And if we all know results, we certainly say, yeah, maybe I should have done that and done this. But with what I had at hand and knowing what I wanted to do, the only thing I'd like to change is the result.
I mean, when I think of getting -- I have a two-run lead in the 7th inning, and the game's in my court and then the winning home run is hit off my closer, I don't know what I could say to myself that would change what I would do, to be honest with you.

Q. Seemed like when you went out to go get Kuo that there was some discussion --
JOE TORRE: There was no discussion. I was just trying to make sure that Cory was ready. I said, Don't move. He was going to hand me the ball. I said, Wait until the umpire gets out here, because Cory got up. I didn't want to rush him to get ready. That was that conversation.

Q. You referred last night to how you often brought Mariano (Rivera) in the games in the 8th inning in big spots. Has Jonathan Broxton reached the stage where he can be used like a Mariano in games like this?
JOE TORRE: We've used him again when he was a setup man. We bring him in the 7th and then pitch the 8th. And, again, in his closer role we've done the same thing. If we had two outs, especially in the one inning, we bring him in to finish off and then go back out.
Again, he's gone back and forth as a setup and a closer. But he has been used. Not on a regular basis, but he has been used for a piece of the inning before.

Q. You talked about guys being down in the room last night. What do you plan to do tomorrow afternoon to address that?
JOE TORRE: Well, again, we've played this club tough. And we just obviously can't concern ourselves what has already happened. We have to go out there and play a game tomorrow night. And I have a sense that we will. This ball club has been fighting back, doing a lot of things. Inexperienced at times.
But it doesn't put them on their heels. And I'll just remind them of everything that they've accomplished to this point and to just continue to fight. You don't get to this time of year without the ability to win three, four, five games in a row.
So that certainly is going to be part of my message and we have a guy named Chad Billingsley who has been huge for us, and that usually carries the momentum into when you need to do something positive, it's usually based on how well you pitch. And I have a sense he'll pitch well tomorrow night.

Q. Speaking of Chad, is there anything you've kind of told him to refocus him for this huge outing?
JOE TORRE: No, I did not. I think after last outing and how disappointed he was, whether this outing was pitching 2-2 or down 3-1, he was knowing how pivotal it was going to be. I mean, for certain -- if it was 2-2 right now, this game would have been equally as important as it is tomorrow for us.
So we just have to think in terms of not looking too far ahead as far as I'm concerned. We go back into Philly, we lost all six games we played there this year. And we have to cross that bridge when we get to it.
But right now our goal right now is to be on that plane on Thursday.

Q. You alluded to the concern of not concerning yourself with what had occurred in the past, the games previously. Is that a more difficult chore with players who haven't been through the ups and downs of the post-season?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, but I think we have enough veteran presence, I think, to help these guys through this. Manny (Ramirez) has been great. And Derek has been terrific through this whole thing.
And I think the players, even though we have inexperience, now we've played the division series and we're playing the championship series. These guys are getting their experience as we go. And I think they're realizing when they go out on an everyday basis, hey, we can beat this team. I think that's the most important thing.
And I certainly was a part of that back in the middle '90s when I had my first World Series experience. You finally get to the point where you say one of these two teams have to win, and you go out on the field.
But I think just the experience of being in a club like the Cubs and then playing the Phillies as tough as we've played them certainly gives us reason to believe that we belong here, and so I think that's probably going to be the best memory and probably the best motivation for these guys going forward.

Q. Can your team make a come-back and how would that be?
JOE TORRE: Well, we win tomorrow, that would be the start. It's all going to -- pitching is going to be obviously the way you get off on the right foot and get a little momentum going.
The thing is knowing we have to win the remaining games of this series, you go at it thinking that as opposed to winning tomorrow. I think that could be a hindrance for you.
What we have to do is make sure we just go out and put the blinkers on tomorrow and win tomorrow and then concern ourselves with the next day and hopefully in Game 7 again.

Q. Chad had such a rough time of it in Game 2, not only with the results, but also with everything getting caught up with what was going on with Myers and what wasn't going on with you guys. He seems like sort of a sensitive guy. How do you get a guy back on track who thinks about stuff like that?
JOE TORRE: He's sensitive, yet he's very aggressive and very sure of himself. And I think he was mad at himself for being sort of in between in that start.
I think I mentioned it more than once, Andy Pettitte, who loves being in the shadow of somebody else, and the first time I watched Andy prepare for a game I just happened to be in the training room and he's there staring at the wall and I said uh-oh, we have no chance here. And then he goes out on the mound and you just watch this guy deal with it. And I've seen that in Chad.
He's pitched a lot of important games this year. I think the most important thing, and hopefully he can get himself in that frame of mind, is that you still remind yourself this is still a baseball game and you can only win one game right now and that's the game you're pitching.
That's the tough part about playing in this post-season is to make sure you keep it as a baseball game and let the panic come from the manager and not from you. Just when the manager has to make moves, he makes moves.
But as far as what the players have to do, they have to do things that are no different than we ask them to do on a regular basis. And we remind them about the individual at-bats and the preparation and having an idea what you want to do. So we stay on them for that reason.
But, again, the pitcher is obviously the center of attention right now.

Q. Are you planning on making any changes tomorrow night? If so, what? If not, why?
JOE TORRE: Matt Kemp will be back in there. And I don't envision anything else changing as far as personnel. How I line them up, I'll come in tomorrow and we'll figure that out.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joe.

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