Joe Torre pregame interview
Yankees manager discusses lineup, Johnson and weather
PHYLLIS MERHIGE: Joe, there was a lineup change.
JOE TORRE: Yeah, we came here early, we were talking about lineups, you know, who has had some success against Kenny, all that stuff. I decided to insert Bernie Williams at DH and put Jason at first. The biggest thing I had to find out, I had to wait for Jason, to make sure he could play first base with his hand.
It's the same people, Damon, Jeter, Abreu. Alex will hit fourth, make everybody happy in that regard (laughter). Giambi, Posada, Matsui, Bernie and Cano.
Not exactly Candlestick weather, but cool and windy tonight. Your pitcher has had some back troubles. Any precautions you can take before or during the game?
JOE TORRE: I think Randy probably is going to have a routine that he's going to work with, what he's going to do between innings. All pitchers are pretty similar in the fact that they all disappear. You know, very few of them just sit on the bench between half innings.
Now, is he going to be sitting down, you know, behind the dugout, down underneath? Is he going to be reclining somewhere? I'm sure he's got it worked out. Whatever is going to keep him as loose as he can be.
How did Sheffield take this development? Was his play at first base a factor at all in this decision?
JOE TORRE: You know, no. Bernie's numbers were probably more of a factor. You know, I was thinking about it earlier. I just threw the same lineup out there. We had talked about it before I did that. Then really in the back of my mind, you know, it's been twofold: it's been Jason dealing with the hand at first base, as I mentioned a few days ago, figuring DH'ing would save him a certain amount of wear and tear.
I just decided that Bernie's numbers were impressive, even his recent numbers, you know, because we have them categorized as the full number, then the last like 10 at bats. I just decided to make the switch.
But Sheff, obviously he wants to play. He's a competitor. Who knows before the night's over with, he may be there. But I just explained to him why I was making the change. It was based on the fact that Bernie's numbers, they were the main reason.
Can you talk about some of the determining factors in starting Jaret Wright tomorrow over Cory?
JOE TORRE: We had to shut Cory down for a bit. From the splitter, he had such finger issues, which cleared up. He pitched well since he came back. Hasn't pitched a lot since he came back. He bitched pitched an inning relief. He pitched one start.
Jaret, he came a long way this year. He won 10 plus games for us. Early on he kept you on the edge of your seat with the pitch count, getting behind in hitters. There was always one thing that was a common denominator with him, and that's the fact that you knew he wasn't going to unravel. If he got beat up, it wasn't because he lost his composure.
And then he started, you know, pitching more effectively where he was much better pitch count wise, throwing a lot more strikes. He seemed to, you know, get deeper into the game.
I think the fact that he's probably started more is where we lean to.
Cano finished the season on such a high note. It's only been two games. What have you seen from him at the plate over the past couple days?
JOE TORRE: Again, this season where you play four or five games in this series, everything is magnified. I thought his last at bat of the game yesterday was outstanding, where he fell behind two strikes, worked, worked, worked. I think he got to 2-2, then flew out. I sense that his personality's fine. It's tough to call it a slump when it's two games. I'm very comfortable and very confident when he comes to the plate.
But I don't really see a whole lot. Again, he's a very unpredictable type hitter because he uses the whole field. So hopefully he can get on track tonight or get a couple hits, I should say.
New Yorkers have been spoiled with the amount of October baseball in the last few years. Can you sense a different vibe when you come to a place like this that hasn't had it for 19 years?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, but you know what the history of this place is. I remember the '60s and the '80s, the championship clubs. Come back on the Cardinals in '68. The '84 team that was like 45-5 or some crazy thing like that.
There's plenty of passion, there's plenty of history here. Every time in spring training, actually in New York the other day, you say Al Kaline walk on the field, you know that he came from a pretty special franchise and a pretty special city for hunger. The Red Wings. The Lions, of course, back in the '50s when I was growing up. Tobe and (indiscernible), all those people. I think it's been a great sports town for a long time. The Pistons obviously have been very successful.
They know what winning is all about here. The Tigers, yeah, they haven't been here for a while. They changed managers. They certainly have had the results with these young players.
Were you aware of Bernie's numbers and had a change of heart or did somebody point them out to you?
JOE TORRE: No, I was aware. I looked at them. I knew there were a lot of players that had good numbers in the starting lineup. Not that that is going to translate into a win for sure for us.
But my hesitation was more in line with Giambi playing first. When I did see Jason and asked him, he said he's fine. I said, Did you bring your first baseman's mitt? He said, Yeah, Skip, what do you want me to do? He said he was fine to do that.
Again, you know, this is a short baseball season. You're a little reluctant to change anything just because you lost. I think initially that's why I just said, Same lineup.
But I always look at the numbers going into the series of all the pitchers we're going to face. I didn't just notice it. It was just something that I never acted on.
I saw some reporting regarding Chien Ming Wang might be available for Game 4 if the situation is needed. Since he doesn't arrive at Detroit, is there any reason why he didn't follow the team? Can you tell us the status?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, he wasn't too happy about it, I can tell you that, too. Yesterday, as much as I hate to talk about losing, I just said if this game doesn't happen to go well and we lose, you're staying home. Even if we had a win today, you're going to have to send him home tomorrow. We're not going to pitch him in Game 4. That is not going to be the case. This youngster has pitched more innings this year than he's ever pitched. I'm certainly not going to take a chance with his future on short rest.
We left him home just based on the fact that, you know, once we lost yesterday. Now, if we won yesterday, he'd have been here. If we had lost tonight, we would have sent him home tomorrow anyway. But the fact that he couldn't stay here was the reason that we kept him home.
You mentioned the other day about Jim Leyland, you thought he was as sharp during the game as anybody you've gone against. Can you give us an example or two of that?
JOE TORRE: He's not afraid of what people say. You could see by the moves. Not too many managers I don't want to say have the courage to do it, but once they commit to leaving a pitcher in the game, the count goes 1 1, you go out there and change your mind.
You know, it's just what his eye sees. That's the one thing that comes to mind. He's a feel guy. He's a feel guy. He'll let certain hitters hit against pitchers and then maybe next week at this time he may pinch hit for that person.
The manager is the only one that really probably knows the temperature of his team, and it changes from time to time because over the course of 162 games, you know, your ballclub takes on different personalities. I think he recognizes that as opposed to feeling he has to do the same thing all the time just because he did it last time.
So I think he has enough confidence in his own ability to be able to do that and not have to worry about thinking he's wishy washy about certain things because we certainly know better than that.
How is Randy feeling? How do you handle him tonight?
JOE TORRE: Well, Randy is going to handle himself. I saw him walk in. Once that happened, the clock starts. He's gradually felt better with each bit of activity. He had like the playing catch thing. He had the bullpen. I think he played catch again. I think he had another bullpen. He seems to be ready to go.
Again, sure, the weather could be an issue. We don't know that. Again, it's not going to keep us from starting him. Hopefully he gets off to a good start and can try to keep warm as I think that's going to be important. As any pitcher would tell you, between innings is probably the test for all of them.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.