10/07/07 4:29 PM ET
Torre pregame interview
Yankees manager responds to Steinbrenner's comments
By / MLB.com
JOE TORRE: There's a question. Have I what?
Have you spoken with George?
JOE TORRE: Last time I spoke with George was Wednesday when we went over the roster. Again, it's that time of year. You know, we want to win. Everybody wants to win. I'm not saying you get used to it, but it's something you know you have to deal with. And my concern is, obviously, winning a ballgame today and doing the best I can to get this ballclub in the right frame of mind. You know, I think we've done that.
I sense that the ballclub is fine. I didn't sense any hesitancy. They seem to be, you know, focused and in good spirits and stuff like that.
A-Rod has said that he's pressing.
JOE TORRE: So am I.
Some of your players have said they're pressing, and you've said the same thing. So the timing of George's ultimatum is a bit precarious in terms of you've still got three games in this series that you're trying to win. So does that impact your ballclub or yourself?
JOE TORRE: I don't want to say that. You know, for me to be sitting here and answering additional questions that I wouldn't have had to answer. But as I say, that's part of what you do here. Is it comfortable at times? No, it's not. But that doesn't mean that I can let it affect what I need to do. I can't let it influence what my job is. And my job is to get this ballclub ready, and hopefully get a good result. And I feel as I say that we were able to do this.
My only concern is the ballclub. Not that everybody wants me back, I'm not saying that. But you certainly don't want to -- there's enough pressure in this game right now than having to pile on some other stuff. My sense is they're not there. I think everybody's okay.
Where is your mind set as far as determining whether you do want to come back on your own?
JOE TORRE: Oh, it's too early to do. Thanks. It's a good question. Reasonable question. It's too early for me to address that, because, you know, the most important thing for me right now is winning Game 3. You know, and we need to push through to a Game 4 and beyond that. But we need to do this a little bit at a time, and that certainly is not a question for me to answer now.
With everything that you've been through and done for the organization over the course of the years, personally, are you impervious to this stuff already? Or is it like a kick in the stomach when you hear it again? How do you react?
JOE TORRE: Well, if I knew what impervious meant, I'd probably give you a direct answer. But you're not surprised by whatever comes down the pike. You don't always get used to it, but you understand if you want to work here, and certainly there's a great deal of upside to working here, that you understand that there are certain things you have to deal with. You know, that's pretty much where I am.
You know, we, right now we just need to get these players feeling good about themselves again. And that's one thing about this game of baseball, especially short series, momentum switches, and what we need right now is to switch it back by winning a ballgame and getting that confidence we need to have of being the aggressor. Right now we haven't been the aggressor, and we need to get there.
Until this point tonight Giambi came into the ninth inning in Game 1. Is it his numbers against Westbrook why he's here tonight?
JOE TORRE: Well, that plus the fact we really haven't done anything offensively. Our ballclub scoring four runs and three of them on home runs is not our identity. I know we have some guys that can hit balls a long way. We know Alex hit 50 plus and did all those things. But our job and really our signature has been to put pressure on the opposition. We came close to doing it to Sabathia in Game 1, running his pitch count up in the fifth inning. But we need to put men on base. Get them in the stretch, you know, make them think about what we're going to do. But right now we haven't been that team.
So Jason's numbers, yes, they're good against Westbrook even his recent numbers are good against Westbrook. Matsui, who I moved to seventh, his numbers are good also without the home runs. I decided to use Jorgie in the five hole because he's probably been our most consistent performer all year, and I just put him up there to give Alex as much protection as we could possibly give him.
Do the contents of George's comments surprise you or were you already thinking at some point in your mind that your future here might be tied to what happened this month?
JOE TORRE: I don't have a contract. Obviously, last year I did have a contract, and it still was after the season before it was decided that I was coming back. So, you know, to me I don't think about it, to be honest with you. As I say, I didn't know about these comments until I got to the ballpark today. I choose not to read the papers and stuff when we don't do well. I jump in there when we're doing well, but when we don't do well, I'm not crazy about that stuff.
But, you know, I don't know. As I say, the overall thing you're not necessarily surprised about is it's just something that you have to deal with from time to time here.
Putting your own feelings aside about George's comments, how do you think your team responds to hearing that if they don't win tonight, you're fired?
JOE TORRE: Well, hopefully a number of them don't read the paper, like I do. You know, we had a meeting earlier, and I sensed everybody personality-wise was fine. I can't answer that question, because I didn't talk to guys about this. And I don't know. I don't know how it affects them.
But again, it's something that, you know, we've had ultimatums during the season, early in the season. This obviously is down to a game we need to win, and you'd like to believe everybody's trying to pull in the same direction. But, as I say, my job is to try to get those players in right frame of mind. I think they're there. I think they are in the right frame of mind.
Putting aside whether you're surprised at all, do you think it's reasonable what he said or is that not reasonable? He's saying if you don't win this series, you know, your job's on the line. But I guess, if you do, you might be safe.
JOE TORRE: Till next series, right? (Smiling) All right.
I mean, you know, as I say, he's certainly entitled. George is the boss, and he's been a great boss to work for all these years. He's certainly given me the players. He's not shy about spending money and putting the money back in the team and all those things. But you've seen managers who have been here before me. I don't think any of them have been on easy street as far as the day in, day out operation here.
So whether I think it's right, wrong, fair, foul or whatever is really not the point at this point in time. I mean, I'll save all that stuff for later on when there's really nothing left for me to do here and deal with it. But right now I have a job to do, and I hope I can get it done here.
Have you decided who is going to pitch in Game 4?
JOE TORRE: I knew it was coming. (Laughing).
Wang threw a bullpen yesterday, and he feels fine. And he could possibly start tomorrow if we have it tomorrow. Right now we need to push for tomorrow. We have everybody else on deck today, other than Andy Pettitte. So we will see who is left standing after the game tonight and make a decision about who starts tomorrow. But he's certainly been alerted.
As much as we're all making of these statements, within the clubhouse this isn't somebody actually coming down to the clubhouse to talk to the players, this isn't somebody they see very often. Does this have any affect whatsoever? Do they talk about this? Does this fire them up at all?
JOE TORRE: I haven't heard any conversation about it. As I say, I got the information when I got to the ballpark today. Didn't get it from a player. I'm not sure how many of them are aware of it. But as I say, the most important thing for me is to get a feel what, you know, where their head is right now. And their head needs to be in one place. And that's trying to go out there and getting the best of Jake Westbrook.
If you do get to tomorrow and go with Wang, how much is the short rest a concern?
JOE TORRE: If he's the starter tomorrow, I'm not really that concerned. He didn't really throw a lot of pitches last time. Plus, if you're going to pitch somebody short, and again, which doesn't mean he's going to go out there and pitch seven or eight innings. Again, we have plenty of people behind him. But the fact if you're going to do it to anybody, I think the sinker ball pitcher is probably the guy that will be hurt the least by trying to accelerate them a little bit.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.