07/08/2004 3:49 PM ET
Torre staying on same course
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
|Joe Torre's roster features 20 position players and 12 pitchers, and his philosophy is simple: play as many players as you possibly can. (Julie Jacobson/AP)
NEW YORK -- It has been two years since Joe Torre managed the American League in the All-Star Game, but the Yankees' skipper is taking the same approach into next week's Midsummer Classic.
Torre, whose Yankees received home-field advantage in the 2003 World Series as a result of the AL's victory in last year's All-Star Game, has managed five All-Star teams since 1997, but never before has he done so with home-field of the World Series at stake.
In his five previous All-Star trips as a manager, Torre has won four games and tied another. That tie, which came in the 2002 game, brought on the new format, which rewards the winning league with home-field in the Fall Classic.
"We got home-field advantage last year and it didn't do us any good," said Torre, whose Yankees fell to the Florida Marlins in six games. "My feeling is that everybody on this All-Star team is worthy of being on the team, and I have a little resentment for people who didn't think that we tried to win in the past just because we had a tie game a couple of years ago. Any time you put an All-Star in a uniform, there's only one thing on their mind -- to win a ballgame."
Torre's roster features 20 position players and 12 pitchers, and his philosophy is simple: play as many players as you possibly can.
"I would like to get as many of these players in the game as possible, especially players who have never been in an All-Star Game," Torre said. "It's a great experience. Being here, for the first and maybe for the only time, it's something I think they should experience."
Of the 32 players on his roster, 13 of them will be making their first appearance as All-Stars, something Torre did as a player in 1963. Torre didn't play in that game, getting his first All-Star at-bat the following year.
"I like getting guys in the game who haven't played before," Torre said. "My history in the All-Star Game is that I've been able to get just about everybody into every game that I've managed. I'd like to be able to do that again. As long as you have extra pitching, you're not going to finish in a tie ballgame."
Last year, Texas' Hank Blalock -- in his first All-Star at-bat -- gave the AL the win with a pinch-hit, two-run home run against eventual NL Cy Young winner Eric Gagne. No matter who Torre chooses to play in what inning, he has a deep bench filled with his league's best players to choose from, so he won't abandon his customary approach.
"I think winning is important, but home-field advantage in the World Series is a crapshoot," Torre said. "I won't manage any differently. You manage to try to win a game, but you can't concern yourself with what that represents."
The one area in which Torre may manage differently will be his handling of Barry Bonds, who recently became the all-time walks leader in Major League history. Bonds, who has been intentionally walked a remarkable 67 times (one shy of his career-high, 68, set in 2002) in the first 74 games of the season, will get his chances to swing the bat on Tuesday -- at least early on.
"I'd hate to say there'd be no circumstances [in which he would intentionally walk him], but I'm not sure Barry Bonds will be there in the ninth inning," Torre said. "Early in the game, I will not do it, but if it came down to the last inning in a tie game, I think I'd be forced to do it to try to win the game.
"If first base is open early in the game and he's going to be the hitter, I don't think the fans came to see somebody put four fingers up," Torre added. "We'll have All-Star against All-Star. ... He's in scoring position even with no one on base."
NL manager Jack McKeon agreed with his AL counterpart.
"Barry is a tremendous player," McKeon said. "I know people don't like to see managers walk him, but we have a job to do as well. Our job is to win ballgames, and he's probably the only single guy in baseball that I can think of who can beat you in so many ways."
With the addition of Hideki Matsui as the final member of the AL squad, Torre will have seven of his own players on his roster, as well as three others -- Ted Lilly, Kenny Rogers and Alfonso Soriano -- who he has managed with the Yankees. With nearly one-third of the roster filled with friendly faces, Torre will have a challenge ahead of him when it comes to playing each and every one of them.
"I think it's easy to manage an All-Star Game, because every player that comes is there to be a part of the experience," Torre said. "It's a little different in a National League ballpark, because you have to keep your mind on double-switching and pinch-hitting. I hope to get as many players in as I can, especially the ones who haven't played before."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.