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October 7, 2009

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe Torre.

Q. Joe, are you worried at all about any negative carry-over from the last week of the regular season into the playoffs?
JOE TORRE: No, I don't think so at all. This is a whole new ball game, you know, the five-game season and there's plenty of emotion and passion and excitement and all that stuff. But I don't think anything would happen in the last week. You play 162 games and you're conditioned -- at least I'm conditioned to tell them that they're conditioned that you have to think about today, today, today.
I think we all fall victim to the last week or 10 days that you peek up at the finish line and you get a little anxious. But I don't think it was any more than that. I don't think there will be any carry-over.

Q. What would you say is your level of, I'll say, expectation for Manny based on what you saw the last two months of the season?
JOE TORRE: You know, if he stays small, you know, line drive, like the hitter he is, I know he's done a lot of damage with how many home runs he's hit in his career and his capabilities.
But he hits line drives and they go out of the ballpark. So I think if he just thinks line drive, I'm going to be comfortable with it. We've seen both guys over the last week or 10 days. Friday night wasn't very good. Saturday was like night and day the next day. So I think he's understanding of that.
I think we forget and I don't remind people enough about missing 50 games and then not having spring training is not easy to start playing again, especially with the expectations that come with him.
So I don't think he's ever been as comfortable as he would like to be.

Q. At 21 years old, does Kershaw remind you of anybody you might have managed or even played with?
JOE TORRE: Not me, I know that. Jeter, probably. Not a pitcher, but we've tried to protect this kid the last year or so from any outside pressures or game pressures and watch his pitch count and then you hand him the ball Saturday and he wins a game that we couldn't win for a week. He didn't win it, but he pitched well enough to win it.
He's got a great presence. A great deal of confidence. He's come a long way in a year, where he's added to his assortment of pitches and has gotten a feel for them.
I can't say that he reminds me of -- I'm just thinking another pitcher who he would remind me of and there probably is somebody, but nobody I think that I've managed. I guess if there was, I wouldn't have been fired three or four times, right?

Q. Joe, you repeated this season that Clayton doesn't remind you -- you don't look at Clayton as like a 21-year-old, someone older. When was that specific moment that you realized his makeup was of someone older than a 21-year-old?
JOE TORRE: Just watching him this year and he's had some ugly ones. He's had some ugly games and to watch him come back from those games and pitch well in his next outing where he really didn't -- because he could have fallen off the planet at that point in time trying to overdo this and overdo that.
I think tomorrow you're still going to see some overdo, because he's got extraordinary stuff. So he may go out there and overthrow it and whatever. But I don't think that's because he's 21; I just think that's because he's competitive.
But I think it was just during the course of the year, watching him deal with new things all the time and how he responded and had a pretty good look in his eye.

Q. You've got to go against Wainwright tomorrow night. What do you see? What makes him special and a tough opponent?
JOE TORRE: I watched him do the closer role here a couple of years ago. You know, confidence, I think, the first thing is confidence, and the second thing that I see is being able to repeat what he does.
He's so good in being able to locate. And I think we all sit there and it's nice to have great stuff where you overpower people, but the ones who are consistently winning ball games are the ones that can be able to locate the fastball and the off-speed pitch.
With those guys who do it on a regular basis, and I remember with Gibson -- again, Gibson had extraordinary stuff. When Gibson would hang a slider, you'd pop it up because you weren't looking for it. I think with both he and Carp, they locate so well that they'll test our patience. When we do well we are a patient club, so hopefully we can do that.

Q. Any special strategy in the best of five for the Game 1, because it's such a pivotal game?
JOE TORRE: They're all pivotal. I mentioned a couple of people in my office, you're the home team, you're supposed to win. I think there's pressure that goes with it. But in the five-game series, you find like I'll sit here -- if we happen to lose tonight, I'll sit here tomorrow and tell you how unimportant it was to win yesterday.
It's just the way you have to think. You really don't have time to say, oh, my God, we can't do this. You just have to find a way. I've been on both sides of the thing. And I know last year we had an advantage, I felt, against the Cubs because of the 100 years of history they were carrying on their shoulders. My ball club in New York, we lost the first two at home to Oakland in a five-game ride and the whole plane ride out to Oakland I was trying to figure out what words I could use, and it was basically just to win a game.
Thanks to Mike Mussina and Derek Jeter's backhand flip to the plate we won 1-0. Momentum in the post-season changes so quickly and one game can do it. So I think if you have that mentality that, sure, I feel the home game, it's up to us to win the game but you have to fight like hell to get home field advantage and you shouldn't be in post-season play if you can't win a game on the road anyway.

Q. If you did watch the Twins and the Tigers, how much of you was with those two managers, and what were you thinking as a manager about what it would be like to be in that circumstance?
JOE TORRE: They're both good friends. Gardenhire was a pain in the ass when he played for me because he would ask all these questions, and now I know why. They're such passionate guys. They're guys that just earn their way to the Big Leagues. I was very fortunate. I got a chance to manage in the Big Leagues without managing in the Minor Leagues. I hurt for both of them. While the game was going on, I didn't know what I wanted to happen.
It was just you're glad and sad at the same time for those guys. But I was hurting, because even Gardy at the end of that thing I'm sure he was so exhausted with all the emotions that you're spiking and going to the bottom and spiking, a guy doesn't tag up. Guy throws to the wrong base, all these things are magnified in that one-game situation.

End of FastScripts

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