USA pregame interviews March 12

Q.  R. A., just coming off the start last time you mentioned it was one of those nights where you didn't have a good knuckler with you.  I guess there's no way to figure out how it's going to be the next time you come out, it's show up, toss, and see how it goes?

R.A. DICKEY:  Yeah, for the most part I feel like it's a pretty trustworthy thing.  I wasn't walking a lot of guys, and I had decent command.  But sometimes that early    that was my third outing since October 2nd, so as much as my heart wanted to kind of step on the gas, sometimes it's hard for the body to catch up.  I'm another week stronger and I'm feeling pretty good, so I'm anticipating a better outing.

Q.  I don't know how much you saw of the Dominican Republic game, but the enthusiasm that they played with, I really haven't seen on a field mid game, celebrating in the middle of a game.  Is your team playing with the same kind of emotion?  And Joe, is Robby Cano as good a player as he is becoming an even greater player?

JOE TORRE:  Well, in Robby's case, I don't think we expected anything different.  First time I saw him in Spring Training as an invitee, and he hit the ball in the air and it didn't come out, that was a pretty good indication that he was going to be a special player.  Now, Robby is a special young man, there's no question about it.

As far as the enthusiasm, I feel pretty good about our enthusiasm.  These guys are very, very determined, and losing that first game was tough, and then bouncing back and winning two games.  But again, it didn't surprise me.  I just felt very good once Canada beat México that we controlled our own destiny, and they played like it.

R.A. DICKEY:  A lot of times it's just different styles.  Latin American is sometimes that way, and it's exciting.  But don't mistake lack of running on the field for us as not being fully invested.  It's just a different way to play sometimes, that's all.

Q.  R.A., with the knuckler, since you've been using it, how long does it take you to feel really comfortable with the pitch when you start out the year, and how quickly do you command it and how does that process usually go?

R.A. DICKEY:  You know, it differs.  It's not unlike a regular season where sometimes you struggle for an outing and you get it back for four or five or whatnot, but you only go off the day.  And like, for instance, today I felt strong.  I felt good.  And so I anticipate it not being an issue.  It's different if I can't throw a strike with it or I'm mechanically a mess, but none of those are the case.  I feel pretty good.

Q.  Do you have any thoughts on José?  He was one of the guys with the Dominican who really had a ton of emotion.  Have you thought about what he can add to a team?

R.A. DICKEY:  Yeah, I played with him in New York as a Met, and I can't think of a better teammate that I've ever had.  He's that good.  In the clubhouse he's always smiling, and it's not fake, it's not manufactured.  That's just an overflow of who he is, and it's fun.  Not everybody is like that, and it's a commodity to have that on a team for sure.

Q.  Joe, managing this round versus the previous round, how much are you still obligated to honor what you told the teams or can you manage in a different kind of way?

JOE TORRE:  Well, I'm obligated because I trust every one of these guys.  You know, a lot of times when you have a    I know I was asked about the bullpen yesterday.  When you look at our bullpen, ten guys who are pretty darned special, pretty capable, because I was asked yesterday, normally two out in the eighth inning, you bring in Mariano.  I have to honor certainly what I promised, but again, unlike a lot of bullpens, there's no soft spots.  Anybody you throw out there, even lefties getting right handers out is certainly something that they're used to doing.

But I definitely    again, managing through the first two, I wasn't sure what my players were up to when they left me, and I just wanted to assure these guys   I am talking about the GMs and the managers   that I would take care of them, and that's still my pledge to them.  And I don't think it weakens us in any way doing that.

Q.  What's the baseball etiquette, for lack of a better term, for a play at second base, a forced play, peeling off, sliding in, coming in hard?  And does it change because this tournament is the way it is or does that have any impact on it?

JOE TORRE:  You know, to me I thought last year with Holliday, I thought that was a borderline, although if you follow the book rule, his rear end touched the bag on the way down behind it.  I still thought that was maybe unnecessary.

And then earlier in this tournament with Mexico and Canada, the runner grabbed the bag.  So obviously he was close.

As long as you don't come in with the cleats up and looking to hurt somebody or cut somebody.  If you slide hard into second base, it's really that second baseman or shortstop's job to try to do things a little different so they're not too predictable and get out of the way.

I mean, I didn't see this, I guess Robby got   

Q.  You don't know what happened there?

JOE TORRE:  I didn't see it.  I was either coming up or going down because I was upstairs watching the game.

Q.  His foot was on the bag and he got clipped by Punto sliding, and they looked at each other, and Punto apologized   

JOE TORRE:  Yeah, but again, if it was the other way around, he'd be trying to keep the guy from throwing to first base or whatever.

Q.  This is the first time in this event for Joe Mauer.  What have you observed?  How much fun is he having with this?  What's it like having him as a catcher?  And are you able to be able to use him for a full game in this round?

JOE TORRE:  Well, yeah, I would have used him for the full game the other day, good fortune for us, but once he got on base in the eighth inning and we were down by one, I said to Bowa, if he gets to second base I'm going to pinch run for him.  He's fine to catch for us every day.  I'm not going to catch him probably two days in a row because he hasn't done that in Spring Training, and it's no different than when I was managing.  My catchers will probably skip a day and stretch out a little bit.  But the thing about it, we have him as a DH so it's not like he's sitting on the bench.  So as long as he's able to contribute, I really don't have a problem.

But I'm pretty comfortable with my other two guys, J.P. and especially when he catches R.A., and like Lucroy got a big hit for us the other day, and he's an accomplished catcher and he's made himself a real good hitter over the last couple years.

Q.  Is this the best moment for these kind of events to be played, in the middle of Spring Training?

JOE TORRE:  Well, I think    I'm not saying it's ideal, but I think considering any other time you may have it, I think it's the only time you can have it at this point.  The only kind of break you have is during the All Star Break, but obviously you couldn't stop play in our season for that long a period of time.

Postseason I think it would be very, very difficult if the guys play close to 200 games and then to get cranked up for something like this, because physically they're probably worn down a little bit.

If you're going to have it, I think at this point in time, this looks like the only time to have it, and they've made adjustments along the way.  They started Spring Training a little bit earlier, they sort of condensed the series now where the last game, I think, is the 19th and they're still going to have like ten days with their club when they leave here.

And I think the only difference with players right now is they're used to March, they're used to just getting themselves physically in shape and then sort of cranking it up at the end of Spring Training.  They're a little more conditioned now with this being the third one.

Q.  Joe, is Stanton in the lineup tonight?

JOE TORRE:  Stanton is hitting eighth, yeah.

Q.  Just explain the reasoning behind not starting him the other night.

JOE TORRE:  Well, it was the same question that was asked earlier, am I going to stay with the pledge I made to the other clubs.  Zobrist, I wanted to get him a game, and that was the reason.  Zobrist is in there tonight, he'll DH, hitting in the 9 hole.

Again, when I put this club together, we have three starters in the outfield, and Giancarlo is one of them obviously, and then have the extra outfielder with Shane, and then the two utility guys.  So the only one I really    it's tough to have a plan for has been Bloomy, Bloomquist.  He contributed obviously very, very much the other day with the attempted steal and scoring on the double by Jonesy.  You know, I DH'd Braunie, so Victorino could play a game and basically sat Stanton the other day just so Zobrist could get a game.