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October 21, 2009

Joe Torre


Q. I wanted to find out what your opinion was of Bruce Springsteen last night.
JOE TORRE: You know, my wife laughs at me when I go to concerts like that. But the thing that I found really remarkable is how every single person there feels like he's there for them. He connects with all those people, whether they're sitting close or way back in the upper deck somewhere. And his energy is crazy. 60 years old (laughing), that's pretty damned good.

Q. Had you ever gone to see him before?
JOE TORRE: I had seen him once before, Madison Square Garden. But my wife laughed at me, she said I was watching the basketball game in one of the boxes as opposed to watching him.
He performed at our Safe At Home dinner at couple years ago, and he was so giving, and it was great that night, too.

Q. Manny obviously could have said he saw that play and never said he was in the shower. Obviously nobody would have known about it. Does he just not give a second thought to those things, or does he kind of like to light a match a little bit?
JOE TORRE: You know, I think Manny just tells you how he feels. You know, during the season when we've taken him out -- and I think it's the fact that he's in demand so much that I think he wants to get dressed so he can go after he finishes doing what he needs to do with the media and stuff, because he never dodges anything. This is just what he did. If it wasn't post-season nobody would even notice. It wasn't like he was sitting in the stands having a beer. He's interested, but he has so much confidence when we get to that part of the game that I guess he doesn't give it a second thought.
I mean, you know, I didn't -- when somebody asked me yesterday before I got in here that this was one of the questions that was going to be asked, I didn't know what it was all about. In fact, I went to Manny, and I said, "Were you in the clubhouse?" He says, "yeah." I just didn't know what I was going to be faced with here as far as if somebody saw him somewhere.
It's really not unusual, and it's not only Manny. I've had other players that have done the same thing when you take them out of a game.

Q. I'm sure you're actually happy to look ahead for once right now. You guys, if you get to Kershaw, what does it kind of say about him, your willingness to have used him in some of the big spots you've used him and the confidence to use him in that game?
JOE TORRE: Well, again, you start him in Game 1, so that tells you something. And I think to me the pressure of, first of all, winning the division for us the last Saturday of the season was -- once again, it wasn't something we planned ahead of time, but it just felt that way because he had been injured. And he handled it so well.
Again, he's grown into that trust thing this year. He started out fumbling around earlier this year, good game, bad game, and didn't seem like he was there yet, and he's still not there yet, but he's certainly come a long way where the pressure of the game doesn't seem to bother him.
Game 1 it just looked like he got in his own way a little bit, trying to rush a little bit too much. But aside from that, the preparation and the -- I think the first four innings told me more about his presence than that fifth inning did.

Q. Could you please share with us your assessment of Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies' catcher, as a former catcher? What do you like about him?
JOE TORRE: Well, I like the fact that, first of all, he does his job behind the plate. When I look at catchers, I look at their defensive ability first, because I thought it was important to be a catcher that can hit as opposed to a hitter that can catch. He does both, against us anyway.
But I think that the trust that the pitchers seem to have in him, I notice that. Even though he has some meetings on the mound, they seem to connect very well, and that's the one thing I probably noticed first.
But offensively, he has a plan. He goes up there -- it may not always be pretty, but he has a plan on what he wants to do, and he has good plate coverage, especially when he gets behind in the count. So he's one of those -- that guy, even though he hits eighth, certainly we learned early on, it's not somebody that you take lightly.

Q. I don't want to put you in a position of picking up yourself and not the team, but you've been through so many of these for so many years in a row and you've talked about the end of your career. Do you ever feel like you're in an elimination spot, post-season such a part of your life that every one could be the last time doing this?
JOE TORRE: I really don't. I haven't gotten to that point, as long as I have another year on my contract, and I've had indications that they'll allow me to come back next year. I like to believe that the chances are we can come back here.
But I really don't -- you know, it's been such a terrific career for me when you consider I'm 55 years old, I was in the post-season one time, for just a cup of coffee you could say, in '82 with the Braves.
But the experience in New York and then my first two years here, this is something that's come late in life for me, and it's been wonderful. I have just enjoyed -- it's tense, and it's exciting, it's tense, it's every emotion you can possibly imagine. But I really haven't given it the ole final curtain call thought right now.

Q. You had great success in New York in particular with a home-grown nucleus. The Phillies with a home grown nucleus, as well. Is it reminiscent of what went on with your club in New York back then? And do you think there's a great value in it, or is it happenstance that some teams thrive with a home grown nucleus?
JOE TORRE: I think it's important because you get to know each other. In this game of baseball with free agency guys change uniforms a lot. I think we do too much glamorizing individual accomplishment, when winning is what everybody is here to do. I think sometimes we forget how the hell to get there. But I think there's merit to being able to bring people along.
And as far as the similarities between the Phillie club and the Yankees, there's a lot of fearlessness, and that's what I had in New York. In fact, they taught me that. When we put those guys on the field -- of course Paul O'Neill wasn't home grown and Tino Martinez, but when you get Posada and Mariano and Pettitte and Bernie Williams and those guys, it was a great nucleus, and the people we added to that were certainly great fits.
Hopefully we're there now, but we're looking down the road, a lot of similarities with our organization, also. But I see a lot of similarities with the Yankee-Phillie thing, because they have a lot of confidence. And that's one thing my ballclub had. When I sent them out there to play, I didn't really worry about if they were going to get lost.

Q. One more Springsteen question: Is it true the crowd welcomed you with a "beat LA" chant?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, but they responded to this, too (holds index finger to lips).
They were very kind. "Beat LA," but it was more a dig than of a serious nature. I think everybody was thrilled to be there to see Bruce, not me, but they had some fun with me.

Q. Do you remember if he sang No Surrender?
JOE TORRE: He did sing No Surrender. Glory Days, too, don't forget that.

Q. You've been in this situation on the other side with a big lead in a series, referring mostly to 2004. Can you draw off of that, and are there lessons that you can impart to the players?
JOE TORRE: Yes, I think I can draw off of it from the other side. If I'm in the other dugout and I'm not trying to psych anybody out, as a manager you're never comfortable until it's over with. I mean, I sat there the other night with 26 outs in my pocket, and you understand as a manager, you never take anything for granted, and you don't care what the score is.
The fact that we went through a pretty good run when I was with the Yankees where we won a lot of post-season games and we swept a lot of series, and I was very, very tense in those series when we were able to accomplish it because I know you lose a game, and it's not that it means you're not going to win, it chips a way a little bit at the confidence.
So I think that the Phillies have to be over there knowing they want to end it tonight, not only the fact that they want to end it tonight, the fact that they have to get on a plane tomorrow if they don't.
So there are a lot of things that they feel it's important to end it tonight -- English, forget it, there's no English teacher here. But they want to do it tonight for more than one reason is what I'm saying. Even if they beat us in six or seven, it's still the fact that not only you lose and you have that little bit of confidence chipped away, but you have to get on a plane and come out to our place.
Anything can happen. Clubs in post-season are dangerous. Anything can really spark a turnaround, and that's what we're banking on. We're banking on our guys going out there, and hopefully we can apply some pressure, even though we're the hunters, so to speak.

Q. Didn't get a chance to ask you this yesterday, but wanted your thoughts on Ned's contract extension, and how it's been to work with him and the comfort level you guys have developed.
JOE TORRE: Ned is a great baseball man. I never really got to know him. Again, I keep going back to Don Zimmer. Don Zimmer told me an awful lot about Ned Colletti from their days with the Cubs, and he's really had a relationship with Ned.
So when I did meet him, and we met when he interviewed me before I came on here, I felt pretty comfortable with the questions, and he was very sincere in what he wanted to know, and it was a good conversation. And I've come to watch him work his magic. I mean, deals that he's pulled off over the last couple years. And he has a feel for baseball, which sometimes we forget how important that is. He values my opinion, and it doesn't keep him from yelling at me or something if he thinks we should do something else, and I respect him because he's a very fair individual.
I'm very pleased for him because I know he's poured his heart and soul into this first GM job, and hopefully he can continue doing this for a long time.

Q. In Game 1 you were able to get out on Cole early, but in the first three innings since then, very few base runners. What was it in Game 1 early about Cole early or maybe what's it been for your lineup since?
JOE TORRE: I think you have to give the pitchers their due. We have a pretty good lineup, and when we're shut down, it's because they do their job very well. Rafy Furcal is fighting himself a little bit, and he's so important for us. I'm not worried about putting pressure on him because he puts so much on himself that what I say doesn't really matter.
But the fact that we need to maintain patience and we need to do some things, and the top of the order is very important for us, and we really haven't gotten men on base early. So it's been -- and again, for a good portion of this season we've been this type of club. We scored in the first inning a number of times this year, and that sort of was our M.O. for a while. But for the most part, the resilience and being able to break through like we did the other night, we're down 2-0 and then we fight back and then we have a lead, we've seen more of that probably than getting a lead and running off and hiding somewhere.

Q. On the outside you have a pretty big-picture mentality, but your demeanor seems to be taking into account and processing, but underneath even during a game is there a lot of intensity that especially as a player you want to run things and let it happen, or you've done your prep, let the players do their thing?
JOE TORRE: I think it's a preparation. Certainly the outward appearance is nothing like what you're feeling inside. You know, as a player it was a little bit different than managing because a manager, you can only do so much, but you have to remind yourself that the game belongs to the players. And that's my feeling. I don't want to direct the game. I mean, I make moves, make decisions, make calls, but for the most part, I really trust the players' ability to be themselves.
When I talk to players, I just want them to go out there and not be afraid to make mistakes. But sitting there and watching that stuff is -- grinds away, because it's a helpless feeling at time when you know you're leaving it to them, and you just have to watch it develop and make a decision on when you should do something.

Q. A very quick point of clarification, and then my question. Did you shush them for the "Beat LA"?

Q. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't The Boss?
JOE TORRE: No, this is before The Boss came on. When he came on they were completely oblivious to the fact that I was there.

Q. A few days ago you said it will be all hands on deck. Ideally obviously you get a great performance from Vicente and he goes deep into the game, but should you not, how do you strike that balance between the compelling need to win versus not jeopardizing your future, if there is a future, from a pitching standpoint?
JOE TORRE: In other words, if you have --

Q. In terms of if you have to go to guys you wouldn't ordinarily --
JOE TORRE: I think everybody knows there's probably -- Randy Wolf is the only one that's probably not available tonight in this game. Kershaw is down there. Kershaw if he's not included in this victory tonight, then he will pitch Game 6. Other than that, we'll figure out Game 6 when we get to it. But the most important thing is getting to it, and that's what our goal is tonight.
But again, it's depending on what portion of the game we're going to get to. If Vicente gets us to the middle of the game, then we'll go with our regular cast of characters. If we're dealing in the first few innings I think the situation will dictate whether it's a Billingsley or a Kershaw or whoever we feel should come out of that bullpen, or even a Kuroda for that matter.

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