Joe Torre pregame interview
Manager always saw past Yankee teams as something special
Joe, was it a difficult decision at all to put Matsui in the lineup today and what do you think he's going through right now?
JOE TORRE: Because of?
Just the little slump he's in.
JOE TORRE: He's so unpredictable. I've said this earlier. He could be 0-fer and all of a sudden blow people out with line drives all over the place.
For five years he's been here five years and there aren't many players that I've trusted more than him in key situations. He's been important for us. And when you look at the July he had for us and the overall season, knocking in 100-plus runs, it's tough to ignore that, because he didn't have a good game last night against a very tough left-handed pitcher. And he missed the last couple of days of the season because he had his knee drained.
But everything physically is fine with him. And we need him. And I'm not going to alter that based on maybe one game.
You go around town, it's hard to miss some of the anti-Yankee sentiment.
JOE TORRE: Really? I try to go around where I have friends, you know. (Laughter).
There's a certain thing between the Yankees and Red Sox, how Boston feels towards the Yankees. Is there something different here because they really don't seem to like the Yankees a lot?
JOE TORRE: To me there are a lot of places that -- I mean, we draw a lot of people in most of the cities we go to. And whether they're there to cheer us or hate us or whatever it is, it's something I don't want to say we're used to, but we understand there's a certain resentment, I think, about the New York mentality that George spends a lot of money and does a lot of things.
There's always that team that has been one that you measure yourself against. I'm telling you this only because I wasn't always a Yankee. And I looked at Yankee teams as something very special, even during the years they weren't winning. It was just something about the New York Yankees that got your attention.
But it's interesting, though, going around town. People are very nice here. Around Boston, believe it or not, people are very nice, just something happens when they go through the turnstile at Fenway Park and they become something else.
And you have some people that like to harass here at the ballpark. I remember David Wells was warming up for a start here in the postseason, and he heard some things that he hadn't heard before, which is saying something. (Laughter).
So the whole thing about it is they're hungry. I'm sure they weren't crazy about the Cleveland Browns going somewhere else either. They got on LeBron James. I'm happy he's a Yankees fan. I'm sure they'll cheer him when he goes down the court here shortly.
But it's something that's very different with our ball club. Been here 12 years and you certainly understand the different receptions you get.
You mentioned a little bit of baseball history last night. Recent history that last year you guys won the first game. And then it went south the other way. Can you kind of reverse that at least in your head, maybe to the degree that any players might have a conversation about it and say, hey, look what happened last year, the same thing can happen here, only maybe on the good side for you?
JOE TORRE: Well, the thing about it -- you play what's a three out of five series and you understand that you really can't carry any baggage from one game to the next. I mean, even if you win the first game you certainly don't want to assume you're going to win the second game because you won the first game.
And we have been pretty good at doing that, because, again, our season was cut short based on the fact that we dug ourselves such a deep hole early on, that we played -- I know we played 162 games but seemed like we had to make up a lot of ground in a short period of time. So we're sort of conditioned to do that.
Hopefully we can do that today. But, again, I like to walk through the clubhouse just to sense if there's any anxiety and stuff. I mean, everybody's excited about being here. Nobody seemed overly -- I don't want to say concerned, but we all know how important it is, but I don't sense that we're going to approach today any different. And hopefully we can go out and get a well pitched ball game. Because that's basically what we need.
They had it. We felt good about getting Sabathia's pitch count up in the fifth inning, but he was able to get the outs when he needed to and Wang just couldn't do what he normally does. It certainly was the difference in the game.
How is Doug and was first base something you kind of grappled with tonight or was it going to be him all along?
JOE TORRE: We felt it was going to be Doug, because, again, during -- once he came back in September and we decided in that game on Sunday night in Boston that we were going to play him, he sort of took that opportunity and made something of it.
Last night I took him out based on the fact we were behind in the game and we were going to try to get something started and we did in the 5th inning, but we just couldn't finish the job.
But he's okay. He's fine. He was here earlier this morning and did all the stuff he needed to do. He's going to be taped like he was yesterday. And we'll start the game that way again. Because my feeling is, again, we've been successful. And Doug's done a good job. I think nobody hit higher in the last month or so, the last month of the season than he did in all of baseball. He was swinging the bat pretty good. A grinder, he can bunt, hit and run. He can do a lot of things for us. Mainly play defense at first base, which we feel as long as we can limit the mistakes we make, the chances of doing something good will be better.
So he's back in the lineup today. The only hesitation I had last night in possibly using Jason at first was the fact that we thought he'd be really sore today based on what happened yesterday.
Your thoughts on tonight's starter Carmona for the Indians, have you seen him enough to comment?
JOE TORRE: We know he's very aggressive. We know he has dynamite stuff. And the fact that his fastball is not straight. A lot of people make a lot out of how hard somebody throws, but really the real equalizer is the fact that the ball moves. And he's got movement all over the place.
So even though we like to be a patient ball club, we certainly if we see a strike early we're going to swing at it. But the thing is we're going to have to be ready to be aggressive early on, because we know he likes to come after you.
Is that in contrast against Sabathia last night?
JOE TORRE: Well, they're different. They're different. One's left handed, one is right handed. Right handers will probably take their turn about being uncomfortable today. The left handers weren't very comfortable last night. I thought Abreu for not looking very comfortable at the plate did a good job for us. A couple of walks and a base hit.
But we certainly -- what video does for you anymore, I think I mentioned it the other day, it certainly makes a difference now in facing guys you haven't seen a great deal of.
Still, you know when you go 60 feet away, that certainly gets your attention.
You beat Carmona earlier this season. Do you recall how you happened to do that and whether you can take that same approach tonight?
JOE TORRE: Well, basically, if I'm not mistaken, I thought he pitched decent. We just stayed with him. That's our game is to try to wear people out. And, again, I thought we did a good job with Sabathia, but we need to slip a hit in there once in a while. We didn't do that yesterday.
I think it was probably just based on the fact that make them throw us strikes and don't try to get too big. Because, again, when someone throws fastballs at the movement he has, if you think you see it you want to hit it a long way. Usually it's going to wind up on the handle or the end of your bat. We try to encourage our guys to think small and think line drives as opposed to anything more than that. So that's the approach we're going to take and not try to do too much.
If you permit just a slight jump ahead question. Yesterday Roger sounded so positive, so ready to go. Just your take on where you anticipate he'll be physically, mentally come Sunday?
JOE TORRE: Well, mentally is not an issue. Physically, I don't think will be either. He's very unusual. Normally when guys take the time off like Roger has, maybe it's because he's done it a number of times at his age and having one ailment or another. His work in between appearances has been pretty strict.
And whatever it is, whether it's his running, whether it's conditioning or his throwing, I've witnessed a couple of his throwing sessions, and they're not just exercise stuff. He goes out there and basically pitches a game and throws every pitch and takes his time and he simulates as best he can a game.
My feeling is that Sunday he's going to -- if he doesn't let his pitch count run up there, I think he's able to run 100 plus pitches or 100 pitches anyway.
The last outing he threw 69 pitches, I guess it was, 31 warming up that simulated a game in Florida on Tuesday. And he felt -- we talked the other day, he felt he did enough work for eight innings of work. So conditioning he takes a back seat to no one, I think.
When you brought Andy back in December, were these kind of the games that you had in mind for him when he pitched? Seems like he's almost made his career based on Game 2s and stopping potential losing streaks?
JOE TORRE: Well, I first saw Andy back 10, 11 years ago or 12 years ago, actually, was the first time. But after we realized how much we would count on him, you'd see him prepare for a game sitting in the trainer's room staring straight ahead and you would swear he was scared to death. But then you watched him pitch.
And he probably was as focused as good as anybody I've ever seen as far as keeping the game in perspective and never really unraveling. He may have a problem here and there, but he never lets a game get away from him. Doesn't mean he's going to pitch a good game all the time.
But he's not going to beat himself. That's basically what we're talking about. But, yes, when we got him, I felt he was going to add stability to a pitching staff that I felt could use that with some of the young kids that we were going to have coming and things that we just felt that it was important for Andy to be here in more ways than one.
And he walked into our clubhouse in spring training and he just didn't hesitate about going from locker to locker to try to share what he felt would help guys.
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