When Torre talks, Bombers listen
Yankees skipper has no problem getting superstars' attention
BALTIMORE -- Joe Torre doesn't like holding team meetings. Considered by his players to be cool, calm and collected, he isn't the type of leader to inspire his players by throwing water coolers or shouting at someone after they make a mistake.
So when Torre decides to address his team, as he did after Sunday's loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore, the team listens.
That 8-4 defeat finished off a three-game Baltimore sweep and dropped New York to 4-8. The manager's message? It's time to play up to your ability before the season gets away from you.
"I'm not happy. We need to play a better brand of baseball," Torre said. "The confidence level is never good -- I don't care how good you are -- until you can go out there and dictate what goes on. We haven't been able to do that, and until it happens, not only am I concerned, but everybody in that room is, too."
"When Joe is upset, you know it," said catcher John Flaherty. "Basically, he said, 'It's time to get going.' "
New York finds itself in last place, four games behind Baltimore, after the first two weeks of the season. Following two wins over the Red Sox to open 2005, the Yankees have fallen apart at the seams, losing five of six games on their road trip and eight of 10 overall.
"When he has to come down on us, he does," said Gary Sheffield. "When we're playing well, he doesn't have to say much. Obviously, we're not right now."
"He doesn't like to have meetings," said Derek Jeter. "He doesn't address results; it's more the approach. He gets your attention."
The Yankees' skid can't be traced to one particular area. The starters have combined to go 2-5 with a 5.29 ERA, while the bullpen has a 6.53 ERA and has blown three save opportunities. The offense is batting just .207 with runners in scoring position, and the team ranks last in the American League in runners left on base with 106.
"We have to do it ourselves," Torre said. "We can't rely on any help; we have to go out there and become a better ballclub -- the ballclub we're supposed to be. There's no secret formula; we just have to go out and find a way to get it done."
"The expectations are so high, and we expect a lot from ourselves," Jeter said. "It's a long season, though, so you can't hang your head too much."
Torre's words seemed to hit home with several Yankees, and his quiet demeanor was looked at as the proper approach to take with a ballclub full of veteran players. The antithesis of more fiery coaches like Bobby Knight, Torre simply did his best to express his concern for the way the team has come out of the gate in the first two week of the season.
"You try to make sense. Sometimes when you yell, you're not making sense," said Torre. "When you have something to say, you want people to listen and maybe digest it, have it sink in. I'm not trying to scare anybody. We just want to stop this thing now, because it's ugly."
"He picks his spots," Flaherty said. "This was one of them."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.