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October 18, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. Why Belliard in the No. 2 spot tonight?
JOE TORRE: Well, normally we put Ethier, move him up against the left-handers. I just wanted to leave him in the 3 hole, so we had to find somebody for the 2 hole. We decided on Belliard. We did this a time or two during the season. Late in the season, obviously we didn't get him until late. And I just wanted Matt Kemp because he would have been the other option, but I wanted Matt in the middle.

Q. You've been in so many different situations. When it's 1-1 for Game 3, the mentality, how is it different than other games?
JOE TORRE: I always felt Game 3 was a pivotal game. Obviously in a five-game series more so than in a seven-game series. But either way it's sort of a momentum changer. If you're up two, if you're down two, if you're even, it's a game that sort of gets the momentum on your side. In the past I've had like Mussina pitch in Oakland because he can pitch well there, and we were fortunate to win that game. And David Cone in the '96 World Series, picked him for Game 3 because he was the only one that had pitched in Atlanta of all the guys I was starting.
Kuroda, basically this wasn't really as much a plan as it was the first opportunity we could get him out there, just because of sort of his rehab or his practice game.
But Game 3 is important because, again, you win the second game or whatever game it is, and it just gives you a little jump start, especially for us coming on the road here. And hopefully we can make a statement in the first game here at Philly. It's not an easy ballpark for a visiting club to come to.

Q. Talk about Randy Wolf, your expectations for him this year, and either how it's exceeded or met them. And also how he's kind of gone from Game 1 of the Division Series to now pitching Game 4 here.
JOE TORRE: Yeah, Randy has been good. He's been a good teammate. I didn't know a whole lot about him other than watching him pitch on the other side. Rick Honeycutt filled me in about getting him before the season started. He was good in Spring Training. Very consistent early in the year. Didn't get many decisions. Pitched well enough. Maybe used a lot of pitches early in the game in those games, and that's why he didn't get a lot of decisions. But when we really needed him to step up, when we were struggling somewhat on rotation, he was huge for us. Won big games in San Francisco, Arizona, at home, both with his arm and his bat. He's been good.
And as far as the switch from first to fourth, it wasn't an issue for him. He had pitched well for us in the game here earlier this year. We thought a little bit about that. But it was just a matter of lining him up. And if Kuroda wasn't available, he'd have been pitching today instead of tomorrow.

Q. I know Wolf is a veteran, he's not a kid, but do you have any concern about what he may put extra on being back here? And on the flip side of that, do you maybe think there is also some advantage for a guy who knows what it's like to pitch in this environment?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think, first off, he is very animated. He's got a lot of emotion going on. But the experience of having pitched here certainly is something that we feel good about. And again, just the year he had. I mean, the year he had was very, very good, very consistent for us, and you're comfortable in the fact that he knows what the hell he's doing.
A big part of it, though, he's a touch-and-feel guy. He has to go out there and just sort of get his comfort level and being able to do things with his pitches that he needs to do, because he's not overpowering. But I'm very comfortable with him.

Q. Could you talk about the trip to Arizona Tuesday, what you saw from Hiroki and how you expect that to translate into this game tonight?
JOE TORRE: Well, the thing that surprised me, first off, I didn't think we were going to consider him for this round, and then Rick Honeycutt and I were talking, and he said, let's see what happens on Tuesday. As soon as he said that to me, it sort of struck a nerve where I thought we should go look at him because I thought it would be unfair to have somebody else tell us how good he was or otherwise, and I'm glad we did, because you watched him, and the thing I was impressed with was his command. His velocities were about the same. The variety he used, they all seemed to be comfortable for me to watch.
He went through, as you would expect with the inexperienced guys, they swing at a lot of bad balls. But a lot of those pitches were splitters, which was fine. But he threw a lot of strikes. Again, would we have liked him to have another one? But you've got to make a decision. I was, and Rick was, both pretty pleased with what we saw that day. He seemed to have no issues with arm wearies the next day. Had his bullpen a couple of days later, and that went really well. So again, we'll wait and see what we see.
But I didn't have any hesitation once I saw him early in that game that if things continued to go that way that we'd use him.

Q. You mentioned Philadelphia being a tough place to play. Is that because of the ballpark, the dimensions of the ballpark? Is it the crowd? Why is that?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think the ballpark, it's a friendly ballpark for guys that can hit the ball in the air. There's no question it's cozy dimensions here.
The fans are certainly very passionate; I don't think that's any secret, and that's nothing new. But again, it's not your home ballpark. You'd like a little bit of the more experienced guy who is going to pitch in somebody else's ballpark, so it's nothing that's going to be distracting for him.

Q. Just to use a Southern California comparison, the Angels came east and talked about how the weather wouldn't be a factor, and then played two games where they made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, defensive lapses, that sort of thing. Is there something to that, to a warm-weather team coming here? And can a team psych itself out in that capacity?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I don't think that ballpark is friendly, either -- I mean, that weather. Last night, you watch, Robbie Cano made a couple of boo-boos and Jeter did, too. Again, I think that's more weather than what city it's in.
Again, you get to come in from California or Hawai'i, wherever you want to come in from, it's the postseason, and you're going to have to deal with whatever distractions there are, whether it be weather, fans, whatever. So it's something that if it turns out to be an issue, then it's too bad. But we don't really worry about it, and we'll wait and see what the results are.

Q. Yesterday in the clubhouse your guys were watching the Aaron Boone game in '03 --
JOE TORRE: I made them watch all that stuff. (Laughter). But today turnabout is fair play. Mientkiewicz made me watch 2004. (Laughter).

Q. On those lines, when these games are on TV, '04 aside because no one is making you watch that, do you ever stop and watch that for a little bit?
JOE TORRE: I do when I know the result is good. Do you think I'm crazy? Especially that one, because that was like a Bucky Dent home run, that type of thing. Knowing the individual, I just saw Aaron out in California, that turned that kid's baseball life into a great memory that will never be taken away from him.

Q. You've been willing to juggle the lineup a lot during this postseason, shelf the rotation. How does that compare to other teams you've had in the past? And do you think it has any effect on the guys and their psyche when they go out there?
JOE TORRE: No, I don't think it has anything to do with it. I've had maybe a handful of guys come in to say to me, not in recent years, I can't hit fourth or I can't lead off or I don't want to lead off. But I've done it, because you do it by feel. You know who you're facing and you know who you want protected and who you want doing the protecting. Matt Kemp, for example, he's hit everywhere. He's hit lead-off, he's hit second, he's hit eighth, he's hit ninth and of course in the middle. And for a youngster, I never saw that look in his eye wondering why. He's camouflaged it pretty good.
This group has been pretty good. They haven't, at least to my knowledge, had a problem with the juggling we've done.

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