An Interview With Joe Torre

Q. You spoke yesterday about the emotion that the Dominicans displayed, and I'm wondering, with so many Latino players in the majors, do you see this becoming more acceptable, or is this kind of an isolated example?
JOE TORRE: I mean, to me there's nothing wrong with emotion, don't get me wrong. When I was saying that, it wasn't a criticism in any way. I love the passion. I love the passion. I spent a few days in the Dominican back in January, and that's the first time I had been there in a long time. Just the love of the game and the passion with which they play it, there's not a darned thing wrong with it. Sometimes when they get on the field and the ball is still in play, then you hold your breath because then it becomes a scoring issue on what happens. But as I say, I know we don't maybe show the emotion that other sports show at times, but it doesn't mean people don't feel the same way about it.

Q. Do you think baseball would benefit from people showing more emotion?
JOE TORRE: Well, there's an emotion in feeling good about yourself and then there's some of the antics you see about disrespecting the other team. And I'm not talking about in our sport, I'm talking about in other sports. Some celebration in other sports is, I think, a little much because you're sort of disrespecting the club you're playing. I mean, that's my personal feeling. Again, it doesn't mean everybody feels the way I do.

Q. It sort of feels like we've been here before. I remember '07 Division Series, is this Joe's last game, end of the Dodger realm, is this Joe's last game, and here we are again at a moment where this uniform may not be yours to put on again. Your thoughts on that...
JOE TORRE: They're not getting it back, though.

Q. Your thoughts on that, and would you do this again, and has this sort of driven your spirits to get back on the field, are you happy with your job?
JOE TORRE: I'm happy with my job, there's no question. I'm really happy that I, first of all, was asked to do this and that I accepted the invite because it's been a great experience, and hopefully it continues to be a great experience for a few more days. And really what makes it great for me is the fact that all the players are invested in this, and to me that's what baseball is about. I know we get sometimes caught up in how many people are in the stands and how many of this and how many of that, but I was raised as the game is the highlight. And these players coming from two different leagues, Florida and Arizona, and just to be able to come together so quickly and to play as a unit, that just tickles the hell out of me. I just love it. I've said that to them, because to me it's just about this is what it's about. I think it's been a good experience for the players. Unfortunately with Teixeira and David going down of course that could have happened anyway; you can't blame WBC for that. But it's been a great experience, and I hope I'm in a position to want to do this again because we're talking about four years from now.

Q. You just touched on a little bit there, and I think we asked you about it when Teixeira had left and now with Jeter leaving, as well. The tournament has done so with attention, people coming and tuning in. Is it always going to battle that injury thing? Is it never going to get any better or easier for teams to get past that, do you think?
JOE TORRE: Well, I hope that it was better in regards to having the teams be a little more comfortable with it. I mean, these injuries and we know it. I mean, injuries can happen in Spring Training. I mean, it's just been the history of the game. But nobody really puts a lot of attention because the injury is happening where it's supposed to, I guess in the uniform it's supposed to happen in. But the fact that they're not doing anything different here than they did other than playing with the emotion, but the guys who David Wright, for instance, he knew really early on and got himself ready to go. But when you watch the way David Wright plays the game, whether it's running the bases or doing flips catching balls down the third baseline, sometimes your body is going to say, cool it a little bit. You know, I can't vouch for other teams obviously, because I'm not there. But I know here that we've been caring for everybody.

Q. Wright enjoyed playing in it so much that maybe he let something go because he wanted to play. I guess that's part of it, too. But you don't know until somebody comes forward obviously?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, he walked in my office yesterday, a little something here, he said, I just want to give you a heads up. I said, you're not playing. It's basically I'm going to have Geno look at you, and then when Dr. Canal and they came into my office, I said that's fine, I have no problem saying that. But yeah, that's always going to be out there. As long as you have a tournament that people care about how they do, I guess there's always that danger.

Q. Talking to some of the guys and some of your coaches, do you think that if you're healthy it should be mandatory that basically because of the depth of this tournament, guys are getting ready early. Cano started training in November. If you know you're going to play, you can get ready to play. Vogelsong got ready to play. Verlander could have been here, but he said he didn't want to be.
JOE TORRE: Well, no. Let me put it this way. They still have an obligation to their teams.

Q. Right.
JOE TORRE: And the team has an obligation to protect their players. In Verlander's case, they played late October, okay, so you give your body, especially someone who throws as many innings as he does, as many pitches as he does, as hard as he does, there's a certain recuperative power your body has, but you've got to give it a chance. So if they weren't in the playoffs and they're done the end of September, that's the month that he you know, he basically put it off a month to start throwing again. Not that he didn't want to be here, but he knew.

Q. (No microphone.)
JOE TORRE: I understand that, but that's a physical inning. It's more than physical here. That's what we're talking about. You know, you still have to he's getting himself ready for a certain date, and my saying that Verlander possibly could have been here but if I'm a player and I know what it takes for me to get game ready, I don't think when he started that he was able to get to where he a place where he felt he could help us.

Q. So if you're healthy, it shouldn't be mandatory?
JOE TORRE: I don't want anything to be mandatory. That's why I wanted to talk to each player. Based on the fact that you want the excitement that you've seen, especially from our guys I mean, I sense from our guys, obviously we've seen excitement from other countries and other teams, but it's still if I am managing a baseball team in the Big Leagues, I want guys that are ready to do this and feel comfortable doing it instead of maybe I'm not in shape enough and I'm going to be a little tentative. I have to make sure I don't run into a wall, do all this stuff. Then you end up getting hurt when you make somebody do something that they're really not comfortable doing. It doesn't mean they don't want to do it; it just means at the time they're needed they're not possibly in the shape they need to be in. I know you're not going to understand that, but we'll talk later. I'm just kidding (laughter).

Q. Can you talk about the decision to play Zobrist at third tonight?
JOE TORRE: Yeah, he gives us probably a little more offense. I didn't want to drop it on him last night because I think he's played like four games in about three years at third base, even though he played a few innings for us in Arizona at third. He's willing to do anything for us, like every one of those guys in the clubhouse. And that's basically it just may be a little more offense with his being a switch hitter and stuff.

Q. What's the approach against someone like Nelson Figueroa? We know baseball today depends so much on scouting reports, and this is a guy that hasn't been around the top level that much, last time throwing in the majors in 2011. How do you approach it?
JOE TORRE: Well, again, it's scouting reports, what we have, but a lot of it is what these players see and what they need to do. I sensed last night when the score was tied, I saw a number of my players try to end it with a home run or get a lead with a home run. It's not that easy to do. So you basically want to try to stay within yourself. I know it's boring to hear that, and the players sometimes yawn when I tell them that, but it's still basically just trying to take what they give you and just be patient at the plate and be aggressive in the zone. That's where we are with him.

Q. It's like back to basics?
JOE TORRE: It is definitely back to basics. To win it's nothing fancy. The thing that I like about my guys in that room is that if you watch them all take batting practice, the majority, the wide majority are hitting the ball keeping the middle of the field, which is a pretty good plan, and hopefully it works for us tonight.

Q. I think Chase Headley said that you guys had reached out to him to play if you advanced to San Francisco. Is he somebody you would plug in as a starter at third base if you do move on?
JOE TORRE: Well, Chase is certainly one of those guys that we had on our interest list early on. I worked with Tony Clark with the Association, and he sort of gauges interest or if they're available. But again, we're waiting until we have to make that decision. But he certainly is a name we'd be proud to have, yeah.

Q. I don't know how familiar you are with Steve Cishek before the tournament, but seeing him and getting a guy like that that doesn't get the exposure, what this tournament can do for him in that way?
JOE TORRE: Well, I'll tell you, you're right. I didn't know a whole lot about him. The people that have seen him basically talked him up because of his ability. But I think we've seen a pretty good taste of his or a pretty good example of his passion, too. He's been pumped up after he's done the job. He's special, there's no question. I mean, his ceiling is pretty high for me. I was very impressed with him.

Q. Did you talk to David today at all, and do you have any thoughts on why these rib cage injuries continue to happen?
JOE TORRE: Well, who was it, was it years ago that Whitey Herzog said they should eat steak and eat fried foods and all that stuff? These guys take too good a care of themselves. No, I don't. But as I said, David is so acrobatic, and sometimes your body says slow down, or not today, or whatever it is. But these players work out. When I started playing in the Big Leagues, they didn't start this whole weight stuff until like the middle '70s, okay. Before that when some pretty good players played, it was just throw a bag of balls on the field, take batting practice, take infield practice and go play. Now it's a matter of core and this that's certainly not a detriment because these players are in far better shape than we ever were when we played. But sometimes because they can do so much, it tests your body.