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October 19, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. James talked a little bit about the personal point of pride as being a home-grown guy coming up through the system and getting this team to where it is. How much do you appreciate that and enjoy watching the guys like him play?
JOE TORRE: I mean, pride is the name of the game for me. I know we talk about a lot of other things in the game and sometimes point fingers and do this, that and the other thing. But what really drives you, in my estimation, is how important it is to you.
You know, this game is very prideful for more than one reason, in the fact that there's so many negative statistics associated with it and so many things are out there, throwing caution to the wind, that if you weren't driven by that, I don't think we'd see the special people we see playing this game, and he certainly is one of them.

Q. You've faced two pretty good pitchers the last two games, but you have to beat good pitching to advance in the playoffs --
JOE TORRE: We've faced pretty good pitchers the last six games, I think.

Q. Are you starting to get worried about your bats?
JOE TORRE: Well, this is something that's been consistent with us. You know, we don't score and then all of a sudden things, boom, turn around for us. I think last night we lost our patience, falling behind six, eight runs, and having a guy like Cliff Lee on the mound, who is pretty special to begin with, and then have the ability to throw strikes on a regular basis with more than one pitch. And I think we sort of -- I don't want to say lose our focus as much as we got a little overanxious against him.
But I'm not really concerned about our bats. They work, and again, we've seen this before. I think that's why probably we've played so many close games, because we've done well in those types of games. These games get away from us, not to say you don't come back and win those games, but it's not one of the normal things we do.

Q. To kind of follow on the first question, to what extent have you seen that home-grown core of guys, Loney, Kemp, Ethier, those guys, take more ownership or responsibility? And do you think there's any kind of additional connection between those guys who have kind of come up that way together?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I had a couple of guys in St. Louis, I had Lankford and Gilkey come up through the ranks in St. Louis. There's a certain bond and a certain competition that they wage against each other.
Last year when Jeff Kent went down with an injury and Garciaparra went down with an injury, we had a conversation with I think everybody but Billingsley because he was pitching that day in Arizona, and basically told them to take over; this is your team and just go out there and show it, because I think they were a little hesitant before that to sort of be as proactive as they needed to be.
And they did it. We went on to win a lot of ballgames, get into the post-season. I think that helped. That wasn't the only reason we did, but I think it certainly gave them the initiative and the feeling that they could do that. We sort of allowed them to do it, and I didn't realize that that was necessary, but they certainly grabbed a hold of it.

Q. I was wondering if you have decided on a Game 5 pitcher? And if you haven't, does the outcome in tonight's game influence that decision?
JOE TORRE: You know, it probably doesn't. You know, we alerted both Padilla and Kershaw that either one of them could pitch Game 5. We're just going to wait until after the game today to announce it.
Will the game impact it? Possibly. But I think we have a pretty good idea even though we haven't let them know for sure.

Q. A couple questions ago made me think, lopsided scores, you've been in the post-season so many times and been around. Do you think there is a trend for the next game in your experience when a lopsided score is registered?
JOE TORRE: I hope so. (Laughter).
You know, the thing is it's probably easier to put that one to sleep. Again, I talk about momentum a lot in the post-season because it really switches very quickly. You know, you feel so good about yourself when you win a game and you don't think you're ever going to lose again, and that's where Philadelphia is sitting right now. They're home, and they win a ballgame yesterday very impressively, and I think the fact that we certainly -- again, not in the post-season, but certainly have had to bounce back many, many times this year to sort of hold on to something that was ours or really initiate something that we wanted very badly.
But I think you have to continue to think small and start with the pitching. Randy Wolf is that guy who has done it a lot for us this year. But I think personality-wise this ballclub is not really affected by yesterday other than the normal wish-we-won feeling. But again, understanding that they're going to come out here and play like hell. I mean, they've done it all year. As I say, not in the post-season, but I think they've had enough conditioning.

Q. You've been around some teams that have won year after year after year. When you look at the Phillies team and you've seen them the last couple years, do they remind you at all of teams that can do that? And what about the team reminds you in that way?
JOE TORRE: Well, I think just their overall personality. They're very confident. They're sort of free-wheeling. They have nice balance on both sides of the plate. And then the thing that gives your team more confidence than anything else, they can send a pitcher out there day in and day out, starting pitcher. I know they've struggled somewhat in the bullpen, but their starting pitchers have really been the difference as far as their sort of swagger that they have, because -- first off last year. And when you see ball clubs, ball teams go out there and play hard the way they play hard, that means when you win it once, it's not enough. That's certainly a compliment to Charlie because to me he sets the tone and certainly reminds them, first of all, how they did it last year, and that last year is not enough.

Q. Kind of a two-parter and then a quick follow-up: Before July's trade where you got Sherrill, what did you know about George Sherrill? And what have you learned the last two and a half months about him?
JOE TORRE: What I knew, I saw him pitch in Seattle and then of course with Baltimore. He threw a lot of strikes for a left-hander. Seemed to get right-handers out, which was frustrating when you didn't know him very well, and you see him do it, but then he did it a lot more that it was more than coincidence. And then he really became a closer at Baltimore. When you realized who was involved in that trade, you knew he had to be pretty special.
Knowing when Ned (Colletti) brought his name up to me, it really, I felt, could have been the most important acquisition we could make, only because that was the one area of our bullpen, even though we had some ability down in the bullpen, I just felt that we really didn't have any setup guy. We kept sharing that responsibility with a lot of inexperienced people.
So just the fact that you have a closer who was willing to be something other than a closer, really as far as I'm concerned, made us whole down there and gave us that ability to get the last six outs.

Q. Because he's been a closer, he blows some saves and comes back and pitches well, does that give you more confidence knowing about his last appearance?
JOE TORRE: I don't worry about that stuff. Again, with closers it's either good or bad. There's no gray area with closers or setup men for that matter. You pretty much make your bed and you're going to sleep in it. I don't think anything could scare me away from him, or Broxton for that matter, for the fact that they've gone into that lion's den so often, and the results have been so good that you really don't concern yourself with it, you sort of dismiss it. Sort of when you ask Charlie about Chase making all the errors. It's no big deal, just turn the page and we'll be back here tomorrow.

Q. How did Kuroda come out of last night physically?
JOE TORRE: He was fine. That's a good question. I checked it during and then after the game. Came in today, and we talked. He was fine. Absolutely no physical problem. It was just one of those things that happened.
The thing that was a little unusual, though, I know you talk to a lot of catchers and managers and coaches, his bullpen was really good last night getting ready for the game, but there was nothing close to the same guy in both. I think he sort of got behind, tried to throw strikes and really put center cut on a lot of stuff. But physically he was fine, no issues whatsoever, and today he felt fine.

Q. Would you have any hesitation then later on in the series --
JOE TORRE: No. Again, I don't know what we're doing for the rest of the series as far as how we're going to use pitchers, whether it's going to be in the starting situation or out of the bullpen. But he certainly is available for either, whatever we decide to do.

Q. Has anything Wolf done this season surprise you?
JOE TORRE: Not really. You know, Wolfie has been very, very consistent, and I didn't have a lot of knowledge of Wolfie other than who he was, and pitching for a number of clubs. But from Spring Training on, he's been the same personality. You knew you liked him right away in the clubhouse. He takes the ball and goes out there, makes fun of himself, which is a good sign, because then you know there's not a self-esteem problem here; he's pretty good. But I can't say that there's anything that's surprised me. Once I got a chance to see -- had a sampling of how he went about his business. He had a little better fastball than I anticipated he would have, and having seen him just maybe two or three times, and he certainly knows how to pitch, which is certainly no surprise, because if you're not overpowering and you've had success, you'd better know how to pitch, and he's done that.
And he's won big games. That's one thing I can say about our club; we really haven't had that, quote, unquote, No. 1 guy, but at some time during the year everybody has stepped up and been that guy for us.

Q. Putting maybe a little bit of a bad taste at the end aside, what kind of value was there for Billingsley getting in there and getting some good outs last night? And does he put himself in the picture for a start later on in the series? How does he fit in going forward?
JOE TORRE: Well, again, I asked him today how he felt. He said, "Well, I can give you an inning." I said, "No, I'm not asking you for that reason."
I thought he threw the ball good last night. I thought he got some good hitters out making some good pitches. But certainly when you're in the situation managers are in in the post-season, you realize everybody is available. How they're used is really depending on what you feel like and where you think they are at that particular time. But he's certainly in the mix, I don't think there's any question.

End of FastScripts

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