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October 20, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. Certainly not a new thought, but baseball is a six-month game and if you had a couple of bad ones during the regular season you throw them away and move on. We're down to a suddenness and immediacy now. The way it turned last night, what kind of professionalism does it take from a ballclub to put that aside?
JOE TORRE: Well, I mean, it's tough, there's no question. I'm not going to sit here and say that it won't be an issue. But again, you're in post-season because you're tough-minded. We were tested a lot of times during the season where we had this big lead and all of a sudden it's one game. They showed up all the time.
And I anticipate we'll have the same guys. It's not guaranteeing we're going to win, but it's guaranteeing that we're certainly not going to roll over.

Q. I'm going to tee this one up for you, but is it safe to assume that just about everyone is available tomorrow?
JOE TORRE: All hands on deck, yeah.

Q. Kuroda, Billingsley, everybody?
JOE TORRE: Billingsley, Kuroda, Kershaw, right.

Q. What do you do as a manager going into this type of situation? Do you either have the guys that have the mental makeup and the ability to do this and come back from it or you don't? Is there anything as a manager you can say or talk to the guys about?
JOE TORRE: The only thing I try to do, and I do it whether I do it with a group or individuals, is, again, try to add perspective from the outside. Having played the game, you're a little bit different on the inside when you're the doers and you go out there and try to play.
I try to add perspective from outside the game from somebody who has played the game and sort of try to think the way or understand what's going through their heads. Again, it comes down to winning a game, knowing how the momentum in a short series, especially this time of year, the second go-around, even though it's a seven-game and not a five-game, it comes down to winning one game, which really changes the personality.
The unique part about our situation, we win one game and we go home. That to me is a momentum switch, and the fact that Philadelphia has to come with us.

Q. You might have just answered part of it at the end there, but can you go through your thought process on choosing your starting pitcher, Padilla?
JOE TORRE: I think it's just the way he's pitched lately, his experience. I talked to both he and Kershaw a few days ago -- we've been here a month, right? Is that how long we've been here? (Laughter).
A few days ago I explained this is what I'm thinking, that we have an option of going one way or the other. It was shortly thereafter that probably in my mind I was set on Padilla, because of experience, because of how he pitched against St. Louis, because of how he pitched against this ballclub earlier. And he's on full rest, so we're not taking anything away from him. That was my thinking there.
Kershaw's numbers starting-wise have probably been a little bit better at home. As long as we had the option with the extra off-day to do that, that's what we're going to do.

Q. Your sort of calm, even-keeled approach --
JOE TORRE: That's because I'm old and tired.

Q. Well, it worked years ago, too, but there have been times in the past when you've been behind in World Series and ALCS. Did you ever feel a need or did ever do anything to shake it up, or did you always just want to preach the same approach?
JOE TORRE: Well, if you think there's something to be done, if you think you need to get their attention in a way like that -- if I felt that we needed to plug in somebody else, I would do it. But again, I don't want to let them think just because we lost this tough game last night that all of a sudden I'm just going to make changes just because of the loss last night. You know, I'll take my chances with the same cast of characters tomorrow as I had last night. We went through this all year, and we were pretty darned good.
I'm really not one that would make changes unless I felt strategically it would be a thing to do.

Q. Did you get a sense of how your guys are today, and are you comfortable with it? And I guess are there individuals that you have to maybe pay attention to at this point or just let it roll?
JOE TORRE: No, I've talked to Broxton a couple of times, once last night and once again today. And the only thing I talked to him about -- again, I don't think it would be any secret, was just telling him how much I trust him and how he's going to get the ball again tomorrow night.
This kid, this closing thing, is something that's new for him. He did some of it last year and did it in the post-season. But again, it's watch and learn. It's do and learn. I had Mariano Rivera in '97 and gave up a home run to Sandy Alomar in a clinching game to us, and we end up losing. It's stuff that happens. When you're in that closer's role there's no such thing as you did okay; it's one way or the other.
This kid is a tough kid, tough kid. He doesn't say a whole lot. For that matter Mo never did, either. Still doesn't talk a whole lot. But he's got some good insight. So he's really the only one I speak to individually, and we'll continue to monitor and do what I think we need to do.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Padilla since you've gotten him? Seems like you've only gotten more and more comfortable with him. And compare where he is now versus where he was when you got him and your comfort level now compared to then.
JOE TORRE: In fact, this year when he was with Texas he pitched against us, pitched a good game for five or six innings. Since he's been with us, I think he's had really one outing that wasn't good. May have been against Washington. But he's been good. And really what we've seen here, actually the last game of the season he pitched, I think he pitched five innings, pitched really well. Off that we decided to pitch him in Game 3 against St. Louis.
He went into the seventh inning and pitched in the seventh inning the first time for us in that game, and then he goes into the eighth inning here against the Phillies. He's been getting better. And the pressure of post-season doesn't seem to do anything more than motivate him.
The sampling we've had of Vinny has been very positive, and he's been a good teammate for everybody.

Q. Manny was asked his reaction when Rollins got the hit, and he said he didn't see it because he was in the shower. And for those of us who are not around him every day, that sounds odd. Maybe for you guys it's a shrug. Can you tell us why that's not indicative of a guy that's maybe not a teammate you want?
JOE TORRE: Manny has so much confidence, and when we get a lead late in the game, and I've taken him out, whether it be for defense or we have a big lead, when we go up to shake hands after the game, he's in his street clothes. So it's really nothing different than he's done before. I don't think it's disrespect of anything. He wasn't going anywhere until the game was over, and we can't put him back in the game. But that's not something I thought was unusual since individuals are all different anyway. But he's always done that, so it's nothing that last night was going to be any different.
As we say, Manny is Manny. He's a cool customer. But he certainly didn't have any lack of respect because of that. I think the way it turned out, it probably doesn't look good. But it's nothing different than he had done before.

Q. Can you talk about the schedule and having this day in between? Would you have preferred to get right back out there tonight and have less time to think about the toughness of last night's loss? And is it a good time to absorb it a little bit and regroup?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, I don't mind this off-day to be honest with you, because if you say get out there tonight, if today happened to be a day game, it would have been a real screwball thing. Yeah, I don't mind it.
The lateness of the hour last night and knowing that it was going to take guys a long time to go to sleep after that one, I certainly don't mind. I think probably if I had won the game, I'd want to come back out again. But I think in this particular case that I didn't think this was bad.
In fact, I had these players out today. I just felt we should be together more so than need to work out, and they're all working out. So I just gave them the option to do whatever they wanted to do today. Yeah, I'm sort of happy we had the off-day.

Q. I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but there was a video that surfaced today of the game in Anaheim that seemed to show Mo maybe spitting on the baseball, so there's been some speculation out there. You were around him for 12 years. I'm just curious to hear your thoughts on that accusation?
JOE TORRE: Well, it's disappointing to have people make something of something that -- as I say, I've been around him for 12 years. He's top-notch for me. I didn't see any of it, I just heard some people talk about it. Evidently he was off the mound, and that's all legal stuff as long as you remember it or wipe it or whatever. But as I say, I didn't see the video. But Mariano Rivera is above and beyond for me. As I said, I can't comment because I didn't see it. But the individual for me is ace No. 1.

Q. You had a talented young nucleus in the '90s in New York, as well, and for want of a better word, they seemed like a focus group and this one seems loose. How does that play out in a deciding game like this?
JOE TORRE: That's a good question. They're not afraid. You know, and to me, New York -- and again, we don't feel like we're underdogs with this ballclub because of last year's experience and what we had done all year because we sort of came on the scene late last year and won the division and then beat the Cubs. But I think we played under a lot more pressure this year. They just seem to be a unique personality. We have a nice mixture of a little more serious-natured guys like your Lorettas and your Casey Blakes and guys like that. But the group, the core group of young players are very confident.
Last year early in the year we sort of had to reel them in a little bit. But they never really lost the fun of playing the game, which is good. Yeah, we keep an eye on it, there's no question. And our group in New York, I remember having a meeting where we were down two games to one. I think it was with Cleveland, and I had a meeting and it was in '98, and I said, guys, you're going to have to have a little fun. You're not having enough fun playing this game. They all listened and they were very respectful of the guy and of me. After the meeting was over Paul O'Neill came up to me and said, it's not fun unless you win, Skip.
That was a group that was unique to me, too, because they played very well. They were very good baseball tight. They were intense. They were so intense that there were several times I had meetings during games down behind the dugout just to tell them to relax a little bit.
But they played well under pressure, but they were a different group, a lot more serious minded.

Q. With all your post-season experience, do you take things differently now than you would have ten years ago as far as a game like last night and then this situation?
JOE TORRE: Probably, only because you experienced it. Experienced the elation of, what was it, '01 when we lost two games at home against Oakland and had to go there, and that was the Mussina-Jeter game where we won 1-0. They hadn't lost in about a month in Oakland. We beat them two games there and came back home and won. And of course in 2004 where -- I have guys over there, Mientkiewicz, Manny, they all remind me of being on the other side of that thing when we had a 3-0 lead and lost.
So you realize it's still baseball. You realize there's much more attention paid to it. You realize it means much more. But I think the experience certainly gives me the understanding that Doubleday had something in his mind when he had 27 outs and put the bases at 90 feet and all that crap, because when I was playing and I kept getting thrown out at first base on a ball to short left field by a step, I hated him for that, but it seems to still work.
Again, managers are never comfortable. Last night I was confident, but you're never comfortable until that last ball is caught or you strike somebody out.
I just feel very blessed to have had as many opportunities to suffer in a lot of these games, but it's something I wouldn't trade for anything.

Q. Were you getting any kind of vibe from Broxton last night so you wanted to talk to him again today, or was that just a matter of course?
JOE TORRE: No, I just kiddingly went in and beat him up a little bit today, and just brought him in. The only thing I talked to him about today was (Dennis) Eckersley, who was in the ballpark last night, and I told him my experience with Mariano as far as giving up hits that impacted games and never go away, because we see the Kirk Gibson thing all the time in Dodger Stadium.
I just wanted to tell him he was in a group with some pretty special people, that's all. But again, just to tell him how much we trusted him, and when you're in his line of work, things like that will happen from time to time.
But he had a good look in his eye. Again, the same old look that you guys have all seen. He's a very honest young man and there's really not a lot hidden there.

Q. Did Mientkiewicz or Manny really bring that up to you?
JOE TORRE: Well, I told you what happened, was it yesterday or the day before? I wanted to watch that game when Aaron Boone hit the home run. Mientkiewicz made we watch 2004 the next day on the Major League Network. Turnabout is fair play. Even though I'm the manager and I have certain privileges, I try to be even.

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