10/04/05 8:16 PM ET
Pregame interview with Torre
Manger talks about choosing Game 2 starter
By / MLB.com
JOE TORRE: Well, again, Chacón, it was something that, first of all, Wang has not pitched against this club. Was this totally the determining factor? Not necessarily.
Wang had been pitching well lately, and so was Chacón. Wang seems to have reestablished himself as the pitcher he was before he got hurt. That was probably the thing that carried the most weight was he was a main part of our rotation for the long time, and demeanor wise, we didn't think it was going to be a problem. And we don't think it's going to be a problem with Chacón, because obviously Game 4 is usually important if there's a Game 4.
Again, it wasn't like this. You know, it was right in here, and you have to make a decision, one or the other, and we just decided to do that. We knew it on Sunday, and that's basically why we put Chacón in that game, just to give him a little tune up.
This time of year is Kevin Brown's element, as much as you missed him during the regular season, how much more do you miss him now?
TORRE: Well, you always miss experience. That's one of the reasons that we scratched Moose from the start on Sunday to have him pitch today, just you want to start with experience.
And we're very fortunate. We had a string here Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, going into the last in the last week of the season, and you had, what was it, Chacón, Small and Wang; my wildest dreams in spring training, those names really didn't sound like they were going to pitch the last three games or the last week of the season.
So we've been very fortunate. Brian Cashman did a great job in getting Shawn Chacón. Smallie we knew we had. We were thinking of him leaving spring training in terms of a guy that could help us out of the bullpen. Wang, we knew if we had a breakdown, he would be the first guy that we would go to because he showed a lot more in spring training than he had in previous springs.
Could you talk about what kind of challenge Figgins presents for you guys and whether he's comparable to any player, because he seems pretty unique.
TORRE: He is unique. He reminds me of Terry Pendleton with speed. Terry could steal a base here and there and maybe pop the ball a little bit farther than Figgins. But he plays an outstanding centerfield. He plays an outstanding third base. Left handed, he's a good hitter. Right handed, he puts the ball in play and he's a good hitter.
He is really a key. Somebody asked me about a key for this ballclub, and he certainly could be the most distracting and the most dangerous of them all. You know, Guerrero is a given; we all know that. But Figgins, he's a great table setter. He can do things on his own. He's certainly something we have to deal with, and probably the best way to deal with him is probably not to let him get on base because of what he can do on base.
Not to bring back bad memories for you, but you've always been a pitching guy, and I'm just curious as to after 2002, your feelings after that, the way your pitchers were man handled here, was it like a disbelief on your part the way things happened?
TORRE: We were man handled here because we didn't pitch well. Taking nothing away from Mike's team, they are an opportunistic ballclub. They don't swing and miss very often. But we didn't make very good pitches that series, we really didn't.
And again, I'm not trying to say that you know, I think it would have been a better series if we had done that. I'm not saying that we would have won, but we would have given ourselves a better chance. We just didn't pitch very well, at all. We certainly know that.
But again, every year, there are different sets of circumstances. I feel very good about our team emotionally right now. But it's still going to come down to how well the starting pitching controls the game. We certainly need for that to happen. You know, we can talk all we want until we're blue in the face about Gordon and Mariano but we need to sort of establish a game before we get there and the starting pitching probably is going to carry the bulk of the responsibility.
Does this team more than any other American League team, their aggressiveness, they are not really a conventional American League team as far as pounding the ball, and they are more of an aggressive/speed team?
TORRE: They kind of remind you of the old Cardinals and maybe the Pirates. The Cardinals, the Herzog era, you know, where you're always watching the baserunners. You're making sure as infielders and outfielders that you pay attention to them. You're right; it's what you consider National League baseball, and Mike Scioscia came from the Dodger organization.
Again, good managers, and I consider Mike a very good manager, they manage according to their personnel. They have had success playing well defensively, pitching well, especially out of the bullpen, and being able to sort of satisfy their running needs by having hitters that don't swing and miss a lot.
So, yeah, they may not devastate you like we possibly could if we get some pitches to hit and hit home runs and stuff. As I say, Guerrero, you put in a class by himself because he is as good a player as you find in the game talent wise and, you know, just pressure wise.
But this ballclub, there's no soft spot. Again, it's not like each individual you're afraid he's going to hit the ball out of the park, but with men on base, that's sort of their style.
I know you've come back from 0 2 before, not to get ahead of myself here, but how important is it to get at least one win on the road? That's the first question. And I wanted to ask, since we are not allowed in the clubhouse pregame...
TORRE: That was my idea, Joe; you only. Everybody else here is invited. (Laughter.)
We see enough of you during the season, don't worry.
TORRE: My wife doesn't say that.
Wondering if there was a reaction, a little surprising, Boston is now down 12 2, did you notice any reaction to the guys upstairs watching the game?
TORRE: No, I'm in my office, I'm in my office. The Red Sox, we're trying to beat them on Sunday for a number of reasons. We want home field advantage, we want them out of the playoffs and to give Cleveland a chance or whatever it was. But none of that stuff worked out anyway.
But, that being said, if you decide, say, from day one, which teams you want to play, it usually bites you in the rear end. So whatever happens, happens, and you go from there.
Our ballclub, we basically, you know, starting on the road wasn't obviously as much of a problem for us as maybe not having Mike Mussina pitch Game 1 just because of his experience. We basically won the Eastern Division on the road, those last two road trips we made, we needed to do what we did, and we were able to do it.
So we are not intimidated by the road. We are thrilled to be here, because if you go back to mid season or slightly before that, we knew what kind of a mountain we were going to have to climb. So we're comfortable where we are, with who we are, and hopefully it means that we're going to play for a while. But again, there's two teams on the field, and the team that plays the best is the team that's going to go on, and we hope we're that team.
After all of the mountain climbing you've done this year, has this been the most satisfying managerial year for you, and what other year would you compare this to in term of obstacles to overcome?
TORRE: Well, the first year always comes to mind. In '96, we lost David Cone and he was our No. 1 pitcher on our squad. We lost him; had an aneurysm and had a surgery. I remember Don Zimmer, my bench coach at the time saying in Spring Training, he said, "If we have to worry about Coney, we're dead anyway." As it turned out, he missed a good portion of the year, and we were able to bite and scratch and do a lot of the things the Angels do right now on how we won ballgames. That was very satisfying, because it was my first year.
This year, you don't manage any different, but managing is not necessarily setting your rotation or putting on a hit and run or changing pitchers. It's all about dealing with players. And we've had probably more players and more situations to deal with this year.
So, yeah, it was probably more satisfying to have as many high profile players as I have on my team, basically act like they have never played the game before and go out there and play their asses off and just the necessity to win was apparent these last three or four weeks. I was just very proud of that fact and that's probably what caused most of the emotion on Saturday, you know, when we talk about players, again, when I say "we," it's just people. It's about how much money they make and, you know, even if they don't win, they still go ahead anticipate, stuff like that. But that couldn't have been further from consideration when you watch those guys playing every day.
You mentioned a number of times how much Chacón, Small and Wang have given you to get to this point, but given that, you have Mussina tonight and scheduled to go a potential Game 5. Might he be the most critical piece to this puzzle?
TORRE: Well, I think it's important to in a short series, especially, to try to get the jump on things. And Mike with his experience in the post season, he's won some great games for us, especially actually on the road. He's done a couple of things that come to mind for me in post season. The first one was winning a 1 0 game after we're down 2 0 in Oakland in Game 3, and the other one was coming out of the bullpen in 2003 against the Red Sox in a no win situation and coming up with a great inning.
But Mike has the experience that I really want to hang my hat on. I think it will help the less experienced guys if we can get a little bit of a jump start.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.