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October 16, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. Just looking back to a moment in last night's game, the delay of the pinch runner when Thome was on first, two questions, one, did Randy not have his strikes on? What happened there? And two, there was such a delay. What is the rule there, the umpires, can they move the game along, or do you have -- how long do you get?
JOE TORRE: I screwed it up. I screwed it up. I really didn't want to pinch run because you saw Happ come out of the bullpen. I had long-range visions of Wolfe being that guy. And then when Jim got to first base, we initially thought we were just going to leave him in to run, and then I just said I can't do this. Somebody dives and makes a play and he's out at second base, and that's what happened.
And he didn't have his spikes on. And I went out and explained it to the umpire and apologized. I should have been a little more ready to do that. I think they gave me a little more rope, and I did apologize for that.

Q. They could just move the game along?
JOE TORRE: They could, I think, but yeah, I think they give you a little more rope in the postseason. You're not purposely delaying the game. I certainly wasn't purposely delaying the game. I had just changed my mind.
In saying that, I'll probably get a fine. (Laughter).

Q. Take you back to '96 real quick, you're in the ALCS. As a manager, first time there, there's a lot of interest, and I know you had managed a lot of years before that, but do you feel pressure? Do you feel like you can make a difference in that series, that a manager can make a difference at this point more than at any other times?
JOE TORRE: I think the manager has to make a difference in being able to handle whatever he has to handle. Don't overdo something because it is postseason and try to maintain just a level head, I guess, and try to keep everything in perspective best you can, even though things speed up in the postseason, there's no question.
The fact that you have done it before, and if it wasn't for Zimmer, trust me, I know I keep mentioning his name and I keep hearing from him (laughter), but he really helped me in my first postseason and certainly understood a little bit better after that.
But I think my job is to try to be the same person, and again, be ready to make what moves you have to make and be consistent, I guess, in my personality more than anything else. I think if you tend to think you have to do more than you do, then I think you're probably making a mistake.

Q. How much do you manage by gut at this time of year as opposed to the regular season? And what is the key to managing by gut? Is it knowing your people?
JOE TORRE: I think knowing your people is very important. You know, to me the manager is supposed to know where his players are on a regular basis. And when I say that, I don't mean if they're home or away; I'm just talking about in their mind and in situations, and you know their personality and what you're watching early in the game, say, for a pitcher and you're comfortable watching.
A lot of it is by gut, especially -- I don't really concern myself with numbers as much until it becomes later in the game when you're looking to match stuff up. But when you make your decision on who your starter is and who's going to start the game for you, players, you basically send them out there.
As far as other stuff, I guess the game dictates a lot on what you want to try and things you do. I can't tell you what percentage is gut or whatever, but I think it's more feel and a sense of what you're seeing and what you're feeling from individuals that helps you make decisions.

Q. Do you do that more in October than you do during the regular season?
JOE TORRE: I don't know. I don't think so. You understand that October is not something -- I guess you do things a little different in October because when you're talking about it in April, May and June. This individual that may affect, you may want him in September, so you may be doing some things a little bit more, maybe have a little more patience with someone who's not doing well because you know down the road they're going to benefit from it.
But when you get to this time of year, you don't have that kind of luxury.

Q. Considering all the injuries Kuroda has dealt with this year, how happy for him are you on a personal side that he'll be able to start Game 3, and have you ever dealt with a player that's had such a turbulent season before?
JOE TORRE: I don't think so. In the two years I've been here -- we've been here, he's had a number of injuries that have landed him on the DL. The thing about the culture in Japan is the fact that it's very difficult communication-wise because they feel they're letting people down and their obligation is to pitch, and what we try to get across is that if you're not right physically, we need to know that, and we certainly know you want to play and you want to pitch. But we need to get you healthy.
The thing that I find remarkable is not necessarily about what he just came back from, but when he got hit in Arizona, I think -- I don't think any of us knew how long it would take for him to get back into that competitive mode.
But it was a lot quicker than I ever would have anticipated, and that takes a lot of courage, just a lot of mental toughness to be able to do that, because he was able to do one rehab, and then the first ball went through the middle and a broken bat came his way and stuff like that.
That's conditioning, and when he came over here he had a whole lot of that coming over from Japan. But he's gone through a lot in these two years.

Q. Why is the postseason so tough on the relief pitchers? It seems like we're seeing guys struggle that you just don't see during the regular season?
JOE TORRE: Maybe they have too much time to think about it. I'm not sure. They try to be perfect because they're at a time of the game when one mistake could put you over the edge.
Last night when Sherrill came in and walked two guys, I mean, a home run is one thing, even though I don't think he's given up a home run to a left-hander -- somebody told me he hadn't given up a home run to a left-hander in a couple of years. But the walks is what surprised me.
But I think, again, you like to tell them it's only a baseball game, and it's just a baseball game. But I think we all know just by the presence of all you people that it's something more than that, and the time of year will make you put maybe a little extra pressure on yourself. That's what I see.
These guys, they deal with the pressure of the game very well, but I think sometimes the pressure they put on themselves makes it a little tougher.

Q. Sort of on the subject of what I was going at before, I'm thinking about --
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I never really answer your question, but I try. Honest to God.

Q. You of course have this great playoff résumé now and you spoke in terms of sort of maybe the perspective that Zim would bring to you and all, but if you could remember 13 years ago and putting yourself in Girardi's position today, feeling like there is an awful -- the Yankees haven't been there, a lot of the same things that run up with him, and wondering if you felt the pressure that day, if you felt like there was something to prove.
JOE TORRE: I get you now, okay. '96, I really didn't feel a lot of pressure because we were underdogs everywhere we played. It was a little different. I think Joey is a little different situation. The fact that we won so often that every year had to be that or it was a failure, and he has taken over that, which I think puts more pressure on him, or it's a little tougher to do what he supposedly needs to do than it was on me.
You know, it was my first year. We really weren't expected, even though we were the Yankees, I still felt that we were underdogs in all those series. The only one I really felt pressure in in '96 was Baltimore, the Championship Series, because we had like beat them 10 out of 13 times during the course of the season, and I said, how long can this stuff last? That's the only one that scared me in getting to the World Series.
But even the World Series, we were down two games to none, and I was just tickled to be there because I had never been in my life. It was easy for me to be very positive with these guys and deliver a message.
By the way, everybody has wanted day games in Major League Baseball in postseason. I loved it, except I was cursing at 6:30 this morning. (Laughter).

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