10/15/2004 6:55 PM ET
Joe Torre pregame quotes
Manager discusses Yankees' pitching
Q. With Brown tonight and El Duque tomorrow night, weather permitting or whatever, do you anticipate probably having to figure out a longer bridge to Mariano?
JOE TORRE: You know, I guess it's pretty much going to dictate itself. We don't plan anything. We just see how far our starter will take us, and then depending on what the game situation is, if it's soon enough to start matching up or just put somebody, a pitcher in there that will take us for the next two or three innings depending on when our starter is going to be removed. But we don't really make a plan. During the game we do that, because the game pretty much tells you what you need to do.
Q. Can you kind of take us back to '98, the playoff game in Cleveland and the game where El Duque cemented his trust in you and you in him?
JOE TORRE: Well, that was, we went through that first series against Texas very quickly. El Duque was scheduled to pitch that next game, if there was a next game and there wasn't so, we started over again.
Then having pitched, was scheduled for Game 4 in Cleveland, it was such an uneasy time for us, beating Cleveland in Game 1 and then we had that game where Chuck, the ball sat there while he was arguing with the umpire and that first game in Cleveland we lost. We were playing in the middle of the day sometime on that Sunday, 4 o'clock I think it was. I remember going down that morning and having a late breakfast with my wife and was sitting there and Duque, in fact, Bill Madden was at that table. Duque is over there moving dishes around and helping people with their breakfast and I said, well, one thing about him, I know he's not afraid. He just looked very comfortable. But we don't know what to expect.
It was like 16 days that he had not pitched and he went out there and it was such a must-win game for us, otherwise we would go down 3-1 and still have to play another game in their ballpark.
But he was dynamite that day. For sure, that certainly gave us the confidence to really schedule him after that.
Q. I have a follow-up, on my bridge question, in previous years, you had somebody like Mendoza who was invaluable to you in that role, talking about the fifth, sixth, seventh innings, do you see a possibility where Vazquez might be the guy that you would turn to in that situation?
JOE TORRE: Well, he certainly is a possibility. But, you know, if we're talking about the fifth or sixth inning, and it's during an inning, my feeling is Sturtze would probably be the one that we would lean toward. Quantrill, ideally for us, we would like to have him in that situation, also maybe lean toward more starting an inning. But I think coming in the middle of an inning, I think Sturtze has proved to us that he can handle it and he's been effective. He's pretty much had a lot better command of his stuff, because his stuff is dynamite. I think the only question over the years with Tanyon has been, you know, how consistent he's been. And he's been much more consistent for us over the last, probably, month.
Q. For all the adjustment that Matsui has had to make it seems from day one that big game situations have not been a problem for him. What about him as a player, his personality allows him to thrive and be comfortable in the toughest spots?
JOE TORRE: You knew he was big over there. When you looked at the statistics and how popular -- well, you didn't realize how popular he was until you went over there; we went over in March and April, and he was like a rock star. So he constantly was scrutinized and under the pressure.
Sure, it's different. This is Major League Baseball and the U.S. and it's a bigger stage and all that stuff. But he seems to have conditioned himself to handle the game. The game seems to slow down for him because he certainly has a plan when he goes up there. I'm not saying he doesn't look confused because sometimes when he takes some swings it looks a little unorthodox but that's basically him because he goes up there and basically commits himself. If the pitcher doesn't cooperate, it's not all that smooth.
But he just seems very comfortable. Even early on last year when he was struggling, I know George criticized him about not hitting home runs, even though he doesn't speak the language and I don't speak his language, he just seemed, in his eyes, that you know, he wasn't really distressed by it, other than his pride probably took a little bit of a beating. But he still had a lot of confidence in what he felt he had to do.
Q. You're trying to do something that very few teams have done successfully, which is win without a lot of left-handed pitching in the postseason. How does that affect your strategy or does Gordon's and Rivera's success with left-handers make that much of an issue?
JOE TORRE: We get to a certain part of the game and we just eliminate the matchups as far as lefty/righty. We have the one left-hander in the bullpen, Felix Heredia, and if we have a situation in probably the sixth or seventh, or even the if we think it's time for our starter to come out and we want to make a change or that's one guy we want him to pitch to in a situation. We'll look down the road, a certain inning, it's a close game, we'll see whoever the starter is or whoever is pitching at that time, we don't want him pitching to this left-hander and then we'll put Felix in action.
Aside from that, it's strictly bring in our power right-handers whether it be Sturtze, or to start an inning, it would be Quantrill. We don't concern ourselves with lefty/righty because we feel our eighth and ninth guys are pretty special.
Q. Do you have any expectations for El Duque tomorrow?
JOE TORRE: I think he'll be fine. As long as he feels good, and he seems to be, you know, healthy, and this whole thing was I don't want to say strange, but the good news during this whole thing when he was laid off was the fact that he didn't have any pain. That was a good sign for us. It was basically he felt his arm was going through a dead period and from the time he threw on that Monday and then threw again, he seems to be fine, he seems to be comfortable with the decision we made; that he's going to start.
So, you know, the one thing about it, he's been through this so often that he's going to take the ball and he's going to go out there and there's no guarantee what's going to happen other than, you know, he's going to be able to have his wits about him.
Q. There's about 20 managers a year who fret over the ninth inning and using their closers, and yet with all of the decisions you've made since you've been with the Yankees, correct me if I'm wrong but you've never had to make the decision about who to bring in in the ninth inning. Could you talk about Rivera and what he's meant for your job?
JOE TORRE: I tell you, 1996, it was the seventh inning. He pitched the seventh and the eighth. He made managing a lot less stressful, trust me. Even if it doesn't work out, like it hasn't several times, you know that there's no other place to go and you wouldn't trust it with anybody else. But he has been remarkable. For his size and his height and the whole thing, he's got a huge heart, he has great stuff, and more important, he's able to handle that situation.
And again, it wasn't easy. He learned going through it when he was our closer in '97, he had trouble dealing with that. And I think something happened to him in '97 that happened to Eckersley in the World Series in '88 when he gave up the home run to Gibson; he gave up the home run to Alomar.
I think at that point in time you find out something about your closer and these pitchers or players, for that matter that, go through stuff that don't turn out too well. He came back the next spring and we did a lot of talking about it, but he only elevated his game from there and made him for determined.
He had a tough time realizing now that there wasn't somebody behind him in '97, and I just told him he was going to get the ball every time there was a situation. You know, good bad or indifferent, he's our closer and we made that commitment.
But for sure, and I've watched manager, not only obviously in post-season play, but during the course of the year and I realize how lucky I am to have to not manage that inning like so many other guys have to.
Q. If there is a rainout tonight, is there any scenario that you see that you would bring back for Game 4, Mussina?
JOE TORRE: You know, I don't think so at this time. Mel and I talked a little bit about it yesterday, and obviously we didn't take a lot of time, because if we are rained out, you know, we don't have to make a decision.
But we feel, we felt yesterday and we talked a little bit today that we'll probably stay with the 3/4 guys.
Q. Can you just talk about how well both Kenny and Ruben have handled the situation publicly, anyway, and what that means to a team?
JOE TORRE: Again, with this ballclub, it's been such -- for the nine years I've been here, I've had guys, and I mentioned it I think it was yesterday, about the respect for each other. And not only those two, but you have Enrique Wilson with Cairo, or Wilson had the job at the start of the season. And these guys have forged a friendship or maybe had a friendship before. I think it's the respect they have for each other that helped them accept it.
I think it was tough for Kenny. Ruben has been in a part-time role for a long time but. But Kenny coming over here, realizing first off that, you know, I've had Bernie Williams, this is nine years, and he plays the same position. I think it took a little time for him to understand the situation. You know, he had no choice but to accept it, because we do what we do and we only try to put the team on the field that we feel is going to win that particular day.
I think once he started trusting the decisions and that it wasn't anything he did wrong, I think once he started getting a grip on that, it certainly was a lot easier on him.
You know, he's been a big part of this ballclub. That's one thing when you have a boss that spends a lot of money is that you have quality people that sit on the bench and give you the depth that you need to get through a baseball season.
It took him some time, but he seemed to find that comfort level.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.