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March 10, 2013

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started with Team USA's Joe Torre.

Q.  Joe, every managing job has obviously built‑in pressure, but is it a different sort of thing when you're in an elimination game and representing a nation?
JOE TORRE:  Yeah, but there's so many different things you try to pay attention to, but it's‑‑ considering where we were two days ago, it's a pretty good spot; that it was such a helpless feeling after we lost on Friday and then when Canada wins yesterday, I think it sort of got everybody up a little bit.
It is what it is.  The decisions are there to be made, but the plan is who was going to pitch and who was going to catch and making sure we get ‑‑ that's the one thing that I had given my word to all the managers; that I would take care of their players.  Like we changed the lineup a little bit today.  Zobrist is playing right field and we're DH'ing Braun and getting Victorino there.
So you sort of have to make sure you stay the course on that.  We have three pitchers that haven't pitched yet, and they will get in today.

Q.  Obviously it didn't involve your team last night ‑‑ or yesterday afternoon, but the news came out, no suspension after the brawl yesterday.  I know obviously you know about suspensions and you were very involved in that.  Is there a concern in a tournament like this, considering the difficulty of bringing‑‑ you can't just bring guys up from the Minors, things like that, that there's not really a real way to kind of have a deterrent against things like throwing at guys or things like that?  Because it doesn't really seem like there would be a way that you could suspend guys without causing problems like you're talking about where you can't overstretch pitchers, things like that.
JOE TORRE:  Well, certainly, you got to think of everybody's health.  But for sure we can't accept behavior as you saw yesterday.  I think a big part of it was caused by the fact that I don't think the players know the rules.  A bunt's laid down, and it looks like somebody's trying to take advantage of a team that's down.  And so I think that in the future the players should be made more aware and understanding that it's a little bit different than the game we're used to playing and the protocol that takes place.
But, yeah, you're right, you can't dip down and fill the holes, and that means other guys would be stressed out.  But we certainly can't just say "apologize for it" and let it go on, because it is not good for baseball.

Q.  In 2006 Team USA got knocked out on this tie‑breaker.  It was a different one, but it was a run differential, just the same.  And in 2009 they went to double elimination in both rounds just to get rid of this.  Now this time they went back to it in the first round, I'm gathering, so that every team would play all their games in the first round.  And now you're going to double elimination in the second round.  Would you prefer to just see double elimination straight across the board to get rid of all this?
JOE TORRE:  I'll let you know when it's over with.  All right?  Don't confuse me, Barry.  You're trying to do this.  I know that.  I'm trying to win today.  But, no, I'm just playing with you.

Q.  I know.  You?  Are you kidding?
JOE TORRE:  Yeah, the numbers get a little confusing, because it's really ‑‑ you're not conditioned to it.  But I guess that they put a lot of thought into this thing, so‑‑ but let's talk about it at some other point.

Q.  What do you know about the Canadian starter today?
JOE TORRE:  Well, you have to know him somewhat.  You know he was a number one pick and you know he throws hard and you just‑‑ again, you have to do what you do and look for a pitch to hit and make sure you're disciplined and yet you stay aggressive.
So what I'm saying is you want to be aggressive in the strike zone and just make sure he throws strikes.

Q.  Along those lines, obviously it's pretty easy to scout, for other teams to scout your team.  They can turn on the TV basically.  How difficult has it been, Italy yesterday, some of the players for Canada‑‑ how difficult has it been for y'all to get good scouting reports on everyone you're facing?
JOE TORRE:  It's a lot more difficult.  Obviously, if it wasn't for the fact that I had relatives in Italy, I wouldn't have any scouting reports on those guys yesterday.
But for sure, you know, as I mentioned, you don't like to‑‑ it's not something I'm crying about, but everybody seems to take pride in beating the USA, and we do have more visibility.
But, again, in baseball everything being equal.  It's not like a lot of other sports where matchups are very important.  Our sport is if we do what ‑‑ if we do what we do well, then I'll take my chances.
So it's more about getting a good pitch to hit, a pitcher making his pitches.  Because no matter what the rules are in the game, it's still all about pitching.  And if you can make your pitches, it really doesn't know‑‑ it really doesn't matter about the strength and weakness of the other team.

Q.  A follow‑up to the discipline question earlier.  In lieu of suspension, what kind of possible deterrence do you think you might be able to put in place in the tournament to prevent incidents like yesterday from happening in elimination games?  Are fines an idea?  Something like that?
JOE TORRE:  Well, fines, when you get emotional like that, nobody really cares about what this is going to cost me.  I think taking them off the field is the thing that makes an impact.
But, again, if that's at the price of hurting somebody else, then there's an issue.  So I don't know what that answer is.
But I think the first thing that we should do a better job at is making sure the players understand.  Even though it may rub them the wrong way, those are the rules of the game.
Baseball's changed, obviously, from the time I started playing until now, too, at the Major League level, where it used to be five‑run lead, you don't try to steal, you don't try to do that stuff.  But that's thrown out the window because you don't know what kind of lead is safe anymore.  So there's some adjustments we have had to make along the way, and still it still irritates some teams across the field.
But I think that a big part of it would be to have the players understand that even though it's sort of against the grain, that these are the rules of the game.
Now it's not going to keep somebody from hitting somebody, but I think what looks like that caused yesterday was maybe a hard slide at second base, which was certainly legal, I mean, the runner, even though he looked like he was going after the fielder, had his arm around second base.  So that's certainly within the rules.  And then the bunt with the big lead.

Q.  Following up on that a little bit, as a manager, is there‑‑ in those kind of situations, is there much you can do?  You can talk about‑‑ obviously you can talk before the game, but as that's going on, can you stop and go out there, or is that something you think you have to do at that point?
JOE TORRE:  It's really tough.  You want your players to be emotional, and yet you say "but you better not do this."  It's tough.  There's no question.
I was involved‑‑ I think it was in 1984 when we had a real barn‑burner with the San Diego Padres.  Pascual Perez, the late Pascual Perez, I'm sorry to say, hit Alan Wiggins, the late Alan Wiggins, I'm sorry to say, the first pitch of the game.  And I have no idea where that came from.  I know he wasn't wild.  And we spent the rest of the day counting our players and coaches.
And I remember bringing in Donnie Moore, the late Donnie Moore, I'm sorry to say‑‑ this is sad‑‑ and gave him the ball and I said, Now we need to win this game.  We have a one‑run lead the last inning.  When I looked in his eye, I knew I had no chance.  He hit (Graig) Nettles with the first pitch.
So it's‑‑ yeah.  I mean, the manager has very little control.  You try to make sense.  But when you're out there and the passion starts, it's tough to try to have somebody be rational about it.  And, again, that's a good thing, because guys care a lot.
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Thanks, Joe.

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