Joe Torre pregame interview

Joe Torre pregame interview

PHYLLIS MERHIGE: Anything we need to know about today's lineup?

JOE TORRE: I need to tell it to you. I need to give it to you first. [Johnny] Damon, [Derek] Jeter, [Bobby] Abreu, [Gary] Sheffield first base, [Hideki] Matsui DH, [Jorge] Posada, [Robinson] Cano, [Alex] Rodriguez, [Melky] Cabrera.

Is Jorge's at-bats and how good he's looked, is that a reason why he's batting?

JOE TORRE: I think he hit sixth last night, too. Yeah, he's swinging the bat really well.

As far as A-Rod, just trying to find something new?

JOE TORRE: Catch you guys. You found that A-Rod is hitting eighth is more important than [Jason] Giambi not playing. See, that's not fair. That's not fair.

I think the first question should have been, "Why isn't Giambi playing?"

Why isn't Giambi playing?

JOE TORRE: Thank you.

We just had to make a decision, and the decision was to try to get Cabrera in the game. He just seems to give us a little -- another dimension. He seems to give us another dimension.

And then you have to figure out who can't be there. And I wanted Sheff back in, and, you know, Jason hasn't been swinging the bat real well. I mean, he's fine. So somebody has to bite the dust, basically. So he'll be available off the bench to us.

And as far as Alex hitting eighth, he's hitting eighth, and we're trying to win a ballgame.

Can you talk a little about how your past experience in the playoffs might have helped last night, make it an easier night and no panic?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's never easy. Short series are so tough. And not only a five-game series, but a seven-game series. They are all short series when you compare them to the 162 games you play.

I remember Pat Riley -- I know it's a curse word here -- but Pat Riley told me a long time ago, he said, "Yours is the only game you can afford to lose 60 games. But that's in 162 games.

But when you get to this season, your patience is a little bit different and you just have to do things. We obviously don't feel good about ourselves, and we know what we're capable of doing and we have to go out there and do it.

Yeah, you hope the experience helps you, you really do. Again, I don't care how much you've played this game, and how successful you've been, that taste of losing is never a nice taste. So you really have to reverse it, and we have to do something about that today against a very good team.

The way they have pitched against you, is that the pitching coach? The manager? Is it the execution by the players? Is it the game plan? What is it?

JOE TORRE: It's probably a little bit of each. We're a patient club, and normally when you have a team with our offensive ability, you know, you try to make them swing at bad balls, and we have been pretty good at not doing that.

Now, we have never encouraged our hitters just to take. You know, we send them up there and look for a pitch to hit, and go ahead and swing at it. And we hit some balls early in the game, and, you know, came away empty, which is the nature of the game.

Later on in the game, when they run up the three- and five-run lead, now you're looking to get on base, and Kenny [Rogers] just kept getting ahead of us and he pitched a heck of a ballgame. Unfortunately, you know, you get behind in the count, and he can go more places than we can.

So I think it's a combination. You've got advance scouting. You've got ability of the pitcher, and, basically, the direction comes from the advance scouting and a pretty good catcher behind the plate.

If the message to your team is just to get back to New York and win one game here in Detroit, do you assume the mood is just that in your locker room right now?

JOE TORRE: Well, if I'm up 3-2, it's the same situation. I'm sure Jimmy is thinking and telling his club. You just have to win a game, and we're certainly capable. We wouldn't be in the postseason if we were not capable of winning one or two games in a row. We just have to do it. We can talk about it until we're blue in the face.

I mentioned momentum is a big part of this game and if we can win the game, the momentum will switch to us. And with winning the game, we would go home, and that would be the determining factor.

Throughout the season, you've said that you have a good feeling about this team. What are some of the key characteristics that lead you to believe that they can win the next two?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, it's today's game we're concerned about. We can't control tomorrow yet.

Just the fact that, you know, we've done this pretty much all year. This is different than all year, because these games obviously have more meaning at this point. But we've been able to respond to, you know, to bad ballgames and getting beat and not let them have any lingering effect, and I think that's the most important thing.

You can't think about last night today, because that's something that's not going to get the job done. We can't do anything about it. We can only control what we do today.

I know it's easy for me to say and not easy for them to feel, but that's the way we have to go about it.

Jim said a couple of times, last night and then today, last night was the first time he saw your guys getting impatient at the plate. Wondering if you agree with that? And if so, how do you change that?

JOE TORRE: Well, you get back to who you are. You just have to take stock as an individual on, you know, your approach against -- of course, your approach is going to be different depending on the pitcher you're going to face, what you're looking for, and what you want to do with it, where you want to hit it.

And I think, you know, once the game got going a little bit last night, you know, Kenny can tease you enough and pitch around the strike zone, and yet close enough to either call or swing at. You know, it becomes pretty much ball in his court. And he had his way with us last night.

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But yeah, after about the fifth inning, we didn't do very much. So I guess you could chalk that up to being impatient.

You talk about how much momentum is so important and a big part of it; that said, they have it all right now, and your guys, do you sense they are shocked or dumbfounded to be in the position they are in?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't think we're shocked. We certainly know we're playing a team that's won as many games as this club. And I know the way they finished the season doesn't necessarily mean it's going to continue.

I mean, look at the other series. When you consider how hard Minnesota fought to get home-field advantage, and then they lose two games at home. It's very unpredictable. You know, we certainly knew going in that we were feeling good about ourselves and Detroit was scuffling, but it certainly didn't make us feel overconfident or -- other than the fact that we are confident, but not the fact that we weren't going to have a tough time, you know, getting to the next level.

Alex said last night that there was tension in the clubhouse. I don't know if you agree with that or not, but can that manifest itself today positively or negatively for your team?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think it's up to each individual. As I say, any time you get into this time of year, there's not a whole lot to -- you don't tell people there's not pressure involved. Because once you ignore the fact that there's pressure involved, then you're kidding yourself.

As far as the tension, I think it's just the nature of the short series; you know, the emphasis on how important winning a game is and how important during that game, not to do anything wrong, which is basically impossible. That's probably what he was alluding to.

Again, we have to motivate ourselves at this point in time to go out there and play today's game for today and not to try to get even or any other terminology you need. I think each individual uses different motivations to get them to where they need to be.

The fact of the matter is, we have a lot of players who have a lot of experience. So maybe they haven't experienced something exactly like this, but I think there's something that they can relate to.

What do you think the presence of Melky in this lineup can do today? And given his youth, can his energy be almost contagious?

JOE TORRE: You know, you'd like to think that. I was just telling our local guys that, you know, a manager, sometimes it's a problem. I take Sheff out of the lineup tonight and you put Bernie [Williams] in. Today you take Jason out and you put Melky in.

Most managers replace regular players with role players; we're replacing regular players with regular players.

In a way, when I make changes, yeah, it's newsworthy, but these people are used to playing every day. And yes, Melky gives us a little dynamic I think that Jason doesn't. Jason sure has the power numbers and the home-run numbers. Melky has had a wonderful year for us, and I've watched him play in very important series, most notably the Red Sox series.

I think I mentioned yesterday, he was out, like he and Robby were playing in the street somewhere. He was pretty oblivious to what it meant; not that he was oblivious to what it meant, but as far as what the pressure was all about.

Jaret has had some first-inning problems. Will that come up today? And what do you think has caused that?

JOE TORRE: No, it doesn't make me nervous. He's kept us on the edge of our seat a lot. Early in the year, even though he's won ballgames, he used a lot of pitches and got into a pitch count by early in the fifth, sixth inning. Over the last handful of starts, he's been a different type of pitcher with the same type of result.

So he's never -- I can't say he's changed for the better; he's just changed. But again, you want to get the first inning or so under your belt. I think just the nature of what you do. You want to get comfortable. You know, we'll see. We'll see what we see, and if there's something we have to do, we'll do it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.