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October 8, 2009

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Joe Torre.

Q. Do you have any lineup adjustments today, and, if so, why?
JOE TORRE: No, same lineup. I waited until Belliard showed up, and he seemed to come out of it fine last night. So we'll go with the same ones.

Q. It was Furcal's big night last night playing really well the past month. Does he seem healthier to you, more comfortable at the plate? What do you attribute his success to?
JOE TORRE: I think the more comfortable at the plate stuff. Early -- actually not early, but most of the year it looked like he was getting too big and too long and trying to hit the ball too hard and when he was hitting like .250, .240, it was like he was trying to get three hits every time at-bat.
He was putting a lot of pressure on himself and taking a lot of responsibility.
But right now his body language is good. His hands, he's using his hands a lot more. He's more patient at the plate. He's going through more pitches per at-bat and he's using the whole field. Last night with the base hit the other way and then pull one down the right field line.
So he's sitting there, using his hands a lot better.

Q. What's the availability of the bullpen today?
JOE TORRE: As far as I know, everybody's available. Everybody -- I'm not sure about Weaver. But Kuo, when I got here today, my trainer let me know early on that Kuo said he was fine.
And, again, that would be a situation where you may warm them up one time.

Q. With Furcal, you guys are a completely different team offensively when he's going like this?
JOE TORRE: No question. No question. To me the middle of the lineup is only effective if the guys on top of the lineup can get on base and put pressure on pitchers. But Rafael, he brings so much to the table, that he's got the potential power but he has the speed.
He'll steal a base. He can do a lot of things. He's got so much more life in his body here over the last month or six weeks that has really made a difference in how we've played and how we've been able to score runs.
He's sort of added another dimension to what we were doing earlier.

Q. How are Wolf's spirits coming out of last night?
JOE TORRE: Spirits are fine. He was out there on the bench last night for the rest of the game. He came back out.
When I went by his locker last night to shake his hand he said, "I'll be better next time." I said, "I know you will."
It was one of those days. It doesn't necessarily tell me anything. Because he's always excitable. So I can't say if he's overly nervous or anything. But he's got that kind of personality.
He wasn't locating last night, and the indicator for me was the left-handers' success against him. If you looked at his numbers, left-handers really had a tough time against him.
So that sort of raised the yellow flag for me.

Q. Have you talked to Clayton yet today and how does he seem to you?
JOE TORRE: He just acknowledged me when I was on my way here, which is fine with me. I don't really talk to the starting pitcher that much the day they're pitching.

Q. On the same note, given that he yesterday said he's always nervous before starts. He said he was nervous in the game-clinching start he had, and this is his first post-season start of his career. You didn't have any special words or you didn't feel the need to talk to him at all?
JOE TORRE: No. He's still going to feel the way he feels. But the thing about it is when you have -- you can either characterize it as nervousness or excitement, one of the two. You have the same feeling. He certainly isn't afraid of anything.
I mean, that game -- this is an important game, post-season you play five-game season here, but we were leaking a little bit of oil by Saturday, and he went out there and pitched against a team that was a game behind us.
I think that was a pretty important game. Just the way he went about his business, I feel pretty comfortable today.

Q. What was your mindset coming into this knowing you have to face such an incredible 1-2 punch and can you liken that to any recent years where you've had to overcome two front-line starters who are really Cy Young material?
JOE TORRE: It's very difficult. Don Mattingly and Jeff Pentland, the hitting guys, they lay it out for the guys, they simplify it for them.
Again, they don't tell them how to hit; they just explain how this person, how this pitcher pitches and just gives them some tips. We just try -- again, we've got a ton, as every team gets, a ton of information.
We don't give the players a ton of information. We just sort of give them what they need to know. But we certainly knew going in and what we've seen earlier this year, this ball club, we played them seven games. So we knew a little bit about them and how tough they were. They beat us five out of seven and a few of those games were close, where we felt that if we made a play or got a hit here or there it would have been different.
But they're a good team, and certainly being up 1-0 doesn't mean a whole lot except that we have two games to win now.

Q. When you went to New York and the Yankees had gone just about a couple of decades without having won a ring, you're now with another elite team that's about the same distance out, have you allowed yourself to think what it might do for this franchise in kind of a similar situation?
JOE TORRE: I love the franchise, but I haven't thought about that. Right now we're so dug into what we need to concentrate on today without looking ahead to a World Series and much less a World Series victory.
And the end of the season will give you an idea. I think it's the only time you sort of take a peek up at the finish line, 162 games, you don't even think about the finish line until you get to where you can sort of feel it or touch it. And it's dangerous. It really is.
So we try to just keep ourselves in the moment, and hopefully that works for us. The only thing we can control, basically.

Q. How much of a challenge is it for you to figure out when is the best time to use Thome?
JOE TORRE: It's a challenge in a lot of ways because you have to throw a pinch runner out there, too, with him. But last night, I mean, I knew Tony was going to bring in the left-hander. We had a lead. So if it did nothing else, it got the left-hander out of the game. So they were out by that time.
I'm not afraid for left-handers with Thome. Earlier in the game I probably would have used him if we didn't have first and second, probably with a man on he probably would have hit off Carp. But with first and second I just felt that I wanted to try to move the runners over.

Q. You talked a minute ago about waiting until Belliard got here to finalize your lineup. Was there any thought about putting Orlando in the lineup today, and what is his mindset with not starting or being in a game yet?
JOE TORRE: He's disappointed. But he's a team guy. Orlando and I had a conversation when we were in San Francisco, our last trip. And at that point Belliard was there, and I had told him, I said, "I don't know what I'm going to do on a day-to-day basis." And I continue to tell him, and I'll tell anybody who wants to listen, that without Orlando, what he did for us early in the year -- and I probably played him too much, especially off the surgery he had and we didn't even know in spring training if he was going to be ready when the season started.
But he was ready and played every single day. But at this point in time, he's fighting it a little bit. He still contends that he's 100 percent healthy, but I think we played him a lot and the effects of that is showing up a little bit. He can play, but Belliard right now is, you know -- he's given us probably a more productive bat at this time.
And that's why I've chosen to go with Ronnie right now. It doesn't mean if we go to St. Louis that I won't change my mind. But I just feel right now that I want to start him at second base.
And as I say, O-Dog is -- he's disappointed. But it doesn't keep him from being out there and pulling for the team. He was the first one on the steps when Matt Kemp hit the home run.

Q. What's Loney been doing right at the plate?
JOE TORRE: I think he's got a plan. Again, another student from the Mattingly-Pentland group. He's got his body in motion a little bit. For the longest time he was hitting it from a standstill and wasn't really generating anything.
But right now he's got a little rhythm going for himself. It's starting to feel good to him. And the one thing that he proved to me last year, I didn't have to see him -- I don't have to see him now, is that he doesn't rattle one bit. He hit the grand slam for us in Game 1 last year against the Cubs, and he just has an -- and an RBI single in the second game.
He's just a very confident young man. Reminds me a little bit of Bernie Williams in the way he sort of approaches the game and I don't want to say a relaxed way, but he's very calm, which makes me comfortable with doing whatever I want to do with him, hitting, bunting, whatever. He's been a good player for us.
But I think movement probably in his body has been the biggest difference for him.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joe.

End of FastScripts

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