Entering the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers had talked about the quality of Philadelphia's starting lineup, how all eight of the Phillies' starters were tough hitters.
If they didn't know that before, they certainly do now,
Three-run homers by the No. 6 hitter, Raul Ibanez (.272, 34 homers, 94 RBIs in the regular season) and the No. 8, catcher Carlos Ruiz (.255, 9, 43) were the decisive blows in the Phillies' 8-6 win in Game 1 of the NLCS, helping Philadelphia win although outhit 14-8 by the Dodgers.
Ruiz's homer erased a 1-0 Dodgers lead began the five-run rally that chased starter Clayton Kershaw.
"The last two months, he's been hitting good," said manager Charlie Manuel. "Basically tonight, he got a hit in the count, and that's what hitting is. He got up in the count 3-1, and he zoned a fastball up and middle in, and he crushed it. ... When you get pitches that you're looking for, then you're supposed to hit them."
Said Ibanez, "He's had some great at-bats and a really good approach at the plate. He looks great at the plate, and he's swinging the bat great."
Ruiz came in as a career .378 hitter against the Dodgers, 14 for 37 with a homer and seven RBIs.
"He's hit lefties and righties," said Dodger manager Joe Torre. "He's that guy that seems to be that pain in the neck, or some other part of your body. But he certainly battles us, and he's had good success against us.
"I think there's always probably one guy on each team that gives certain teams hell to pay. And when it's the eighth-place hitter, it frustrates you. But it's certainly something he's done more than once."
While Ibanez is clearly the more accomplished hitter, his homer was at least as surprising, given that it came against George Sherrill, who has been extremely reliable since his July acquisition from Baltimore.
"I think that was a shock for everybody," said Torre, "especially the walks" -- Sherrill walked Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth before the homer -- "which really hasn't been something he has done a lot of."
"Tonight, of course, Raul got a big hit," said the Phillies manager, "but that's the first time I've ever seen (Sherrill) not have his command."
The Ibanez homer came on the first pitch after the walks, going against the conventional wisdom of taking a pitch when a pitcher is struggling with his control.
"You're definitely not trying to do too much," said Ibanez. "He's tough. He's a tough pitcher. He's tough on lefthanders. You're trying to do less, and a lot of times in this game less is more. So you're really just trying to stroke -- get a decent pitch from him and stroke a line drive somewhere."
Other thoughts: A few other postgame comments:
-- Torre, asked if it was frustrating to lose despite 14 hits and six runs: "We kept bouncing back. You fall behind four runs to this group, and we did it two different times, and fought our way back into it. The frustrating part is how many walks we issued" -- seven, four of which were cashed in for runs -- "because there's really no defense for that."
-- Manuel, on Brad Lidge, who struggled in the regular season but earned the save, meaning he's converted on his last 10 save opportunities in the postseason: "Lidge was the guy," said Manuel. "... I liked the way it was set up with the righthanded hitters leading off the inning.
"If we pin down one closer, it's always been Lidge. But at the same time ... when he started struggling a bit, we had to do some maneuvering and give him a break, give him some time off and everything."
-- Ibanez, on the idea Game 1 was a typical Phillies win: "Guys are pulling for each other. Guys are sticking together and trying to string quality at-bats together. You can feel the excitement when it builds up in the dugout. ...
"I saw it for six months of the regular season. I saw it even in spring training, some of the excitement in the dugout ... when I got there. It was great to be a part of. It's an entire group of guys pulling in the same direction. It's incredible."
Results tagged “Joe Torre” from z_Lassen_All Over the Place
Entering the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers had talked about the quality of Philadelphia's starting lineup, how all eight of the Phillies' starters were tough hitters.
Vicente Padilla -- or perhaps his interpreter -- was the picture of diplomacy on Thursday.
Talking about his start scheduled for Friday's Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, Padilla (speaking through an interpreter) offered a rather mild assessment of his release by the Texas Rangers -- a move drawing surprisingly vocal praise from Texas players -- and his gratitude for his opportunity with the Dodgers.
"When they released me, I wasn't really surprised," said Padilla, 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in Texas. "They had to do whatever they had to do. You just have to go on, and you just can't really dwell on the fact they released you."
As a Dodger, Padilla was 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in eight regular-season games after his Aug. 27 debut, and followed that up by winning Game 3 of the first-round series with St. Louis." When I found out that the Dodgers had an interest in me, I was very happy," said Padilla. "I was very happy to have this opportunity to play on this great team."
And why has he been so successful in L.A.?
"I think in point of fact, it's the fact that my teammates welcomed me, and they took me as one of their family members."
Manager Joe Torre noted Padilla had pitched well against the Dodgers in an interleague game this year (five shutout innings in a 6-0 Texas win).
"We knew he had good stuff," said Torre. "... So we certainly were hoping that he would give us a boost. But would I have dreamed at the time that we got him that he was going to pitch Game 2 of the championship series? No, I certainly didn't envision that."
A vote for Pedro: After playing things fairly close to the vest, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tabbed Pedro Martinez to start Game 2. It will be the first start for Martinez (5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine games) since going four innings in a Sept. 30 start against Houston, and just his second outing in the last 27 days. He did pitch in a simulated game a few days ago.
"I'm going to have to take that for now," said Martinez, "because there wasn't any time to do anything else. I guess I'm going to have to rely on whatever I was able to, and I just had two innings of (batting practice) to (Eric) Bruntlett and (Greg) Dobbs."
Manuel is confident Martinez will be ready.
"We feel like the other day when we was watching him in a simulated game, he was throwing the ball very good," said Manuel. "As a matter of fact, he was throwing hard, and his command was good, and he's had enough rest and his experience and everything. I feel like he's always pretty sharp with his command and control."
For Joe Torre, whose Yankees matched up against Martinez often in the pitcher's seven seasons in Boston, it will be like old times. Sort of.
"We've seen him a ton of times," said Torre, "and it won't be any different this time. You don't try to beat Pedro. You just try to outlast him. You need your pitcher to match what he does, because he's such a great competitor, knows how to pitch, and has a variety of stuff.
"But it's going to be strange, that's for sure, to have both of us over here in the National League, where we both started, and go at it again."
That Martinez is back in Dodger Stadium where he started his career as a 20-year-old in 1992 -- he was 10-6 as a Dodger before being traded to Montreal in a much-lamented deal for Delino DeShields -- has some significance to the pitcher.
"It's going to be special, especially brining back memories about my start here," said Martinez. "I was born in this place, and I hope this is not the last one that I pitch here. But if it is, it would be a great joy to actually do it in the place I started."
Said Manuel, "This is a good ballpark for him. He likes a moment, and actually I liked him in this game better than I did in the third or fourth game" of the Colorado series.
A few postgame comments from the Dodgers' 3-2 comeback win Thursday afternoon:
-- On Clayton Kershaw's performance (6 2/3 innings, two runs) that kept the Dodgers in position to come back: "This is what you save all those innings for during the season. Again, he was very economical going into the seventh inning. He pitched great. ... I was very comfortable watching Kershaw pitch today. I thought he responded to the challenge very, very well."
-- What he thought when Matt Holliday dropped the fly ball that would have ended the game: "It's a break. The first thing I did was go to James (Loney) and ... made sure he was running. I would have been very surprised if he wasn't. Being on second base puts an enormous amount of pressure on (Cards reliever Ryan) Franklin at this point, because it takes just a single to score a run."
-- On Albert Pujols, walked intentionally for the third time in two games and 1 for 6 in the series: "As I have said many times, Albert is in a class by himself. I think Albert is such a threat that you are willing to put the winning run on base. You're willing to give them an opportunity to hit a three-run homer instead of a two-run homer.
"I just want to make somebody else beat me, basically."
Tony La Russa:
-- On the effort by Adam Wainwright, who went eight innings and allowed three hits and one run, but ended with no decision: "The quality of that is so good it's almost impossible to describe under the circumstances. We kept making enough contact we thought we could get some runs. We couldn't get anything to fall." (The Cards were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, and are 3 for 22 in the series.)
"He had very little to work with. ... He made quality pitch after quality pitch. The lineup saw him several times. He kept making adjustments. Outstanding."
-- On the way his team lost: "I think it's about as tough as loss as you can have, except we still have an opportunity to play Saturday. Thinking about the Tigers and Jim (Leyland), and you lose a game like that and you're done. But we have another opportunity.
"So it was a tough loss, very tough loss. ...
"Right now, we're feeling disappointed, like I said. But we're not discouraged. There's a big difference in the two. We can win a game, so we have to wait until Saturday.
"But right now, I think it's important to get upset about the game that got away. We did a lot to win that one and didn't win it. Turn the page too quickly (and it) means you don't care."
Dodger second baseman Ronnie Belliard:
-- On facing Wainwright: "You know, he's tough to pick up the breaking balls. And risers. He's not a soft thrower, gets up to 95, 93. He's got a good sinker, good cutter. I know that. I played behind him. ...
"And when it's like that, when that shadow is in between or the sun is back in center field -- but I think our break just came in the bottom of the ninth, that line drive to left field" (dropped by Holliday).
-- On facing Carpenter and Wainwright and winning both games: "I think I told the guys yesterday, hey, we have got to make him pitch. Gotta get in our bullpen. We all know the bullpen. Their bullpen is good, because they're here because they're good. ...
"I think today (Wainwright) was something else, you know."
-- On his reaction to the Dodgers comeback: "I think this is one of the greatest times for me ever in baseball."
Pregame notes from Game 2:
Staying with Belliard: Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he'd stick with the Game 1 lineup for Game 2, meaning Ronnie Belliard again starts at second base. That disappoints Orlando Hudson, the starting second baseman for most of the year, but, said Torre, "He's a team guy.
"Orlando and I had a conversation when we were in San Francisco (late in the regular season)," Torre continued. "... At that point, I told him I didn't know what I was going to do on a day-to-day basis."
Torre says he continues to tell Hudson and "anybody that wants to listen" about the importance of the second baseman's early-season performance. "And I probably played him too much, especially coming off the surgery he had. We didn't even know if he was going to be ready for spring training, but he was ready and played every single day.
"But at this point, he's fighting it a little bit. He still contends he's 100 percent healthy, but we played him a lot, and I think the effects of that are showing up a little bit.
"Belliard, right now, he's probably giving us a more productive bat at this time, and that's why I've chosen to go with Ronnie. That doesn't mean when we get to St. Louis, I won't change my mind."
Wolf's words: Torre was asked how starter Randy Wolf had reacted to his Game 1 struggles.
"His spirits are fine," said Torre. "He was out there last night for the rest of the game. ... When I went by his locker after the game to shake his hand, he said, 'I'll be better next time.' I said, 'I know you will.'
"It was one of those days, and it doesn't necessarily tell me anything. Because he's always excitable, so I can't say if he's overly nervous or anything. He's got that kind of personality.
"He just wasn't locating. The indicator to me was the lefthanders' success. If you look at his numbers, the lefthanders really had a tough time against him (in the regular season). So that sort of raised the yellow flag for me."
Lineup change: As he'd suggested before Game 1, when he started Skip Schumaker at second base, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa switched to Julio Lugo to lead off and play second in Game 2.
"I just think that Julio has been a good early spark plug against left-hand starters for us," said La Russa, "and we've got a left-hand starter today, went the other way yesterday, so I think he's capable of doing some stuff."
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers' latest effort to plug the holes in their starting rotation clearly has some risks, but manager Joe Torre isn't too worked up about them.
Vicente Padilla was picked up by the Dodgers on Wednesday, the day he became a free agent following his release by the Texas Rangers. He'll pitch Saturday in Albuquerque, then make his Dodger debut Thursday in Colorado, Torre said.
Padilla, 31, was 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA this year for Texas, and 94-85 in an 11-year career with Arizona, Philadelphia and the Rangers. More problematic than the numbers, though, is Padilla's reputation. His release by Texas led to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram story headlined "Rangers bid farewell to malcontent Padilla."
In that story, outfielder Marlon Byrd was quoted as saying, "About time. It's absolutely a positive for this team. We have to get rid of the negatives to make a positive, and I believe this is a huge positive for this team." And general manager Jon Daniels said the move was "a culmination of things. It's about being a good teammate, acting like a professional and representing the team the right way."
Angels fans will also recall that Padilla was a key figure in a September 2007 incident in which the Angels and Rangers engaged in a two-day exchange of beanballs, a sequence which led to a five-game suspension for Padilla, another Rangers pitcher, three Angels and the managers of both teams. This season, he was involved in incidents with Oakland and the Yankees.
Torre made it clear he isn't interested in the reputation Padilla brings with him, only in what he does as a Dodger.
"Through my experience ... I've had players that have been questioned for one thing or another," said Torre, "and I've always felt it would be fair to judge them on the time you spend with them.
"I guess what had me think that was getting traded from Atlanta to St. Louis, and I was in St. Louis for a year or two before somebody came up to me and said, 'You're not a troublemaker.' I said, 'I didn't know I was.' Evidently, that's what everyone was prepared for.
"So I just decided that it's probably the safest thing. Because you can't do anything about your past. ... He's going to have a clean slate here and play baseball."
That being the case, Torre also said he's not concerned Padilla could disrupt the chemistry of what is considered to be a particularly harmonious clubhouse.
"I don't think it's a risk," he said. "I think we're, as a team, far enough along that if someone is a bad influence, I don't think that's going to affect other people. ... If there's an issue, we'll deal with it. And I have not had an issue with this man."
Padilla's signing follows the decision Wednesday to place Hiroki Kuroda on the disabled list as he recovers from his concussion, but Torre said one did not necessarily lead to the other: "I still think we'd probably look to be better. I'm just thinking about starters we have right now. ... We were talking about him before he got hit in the head."
Torre also said the Dodgers had been talking about John Smoltz, just released by Boston, but Smoltz signed with St. Louis on Wednesday and will join the Cardinals on Thursday in San Diego.
Padilla fits into a piecemeal and ever-shifting Dodgers rotation that had Clayton Kershaw start Wednesday, though that was in doubt Tuesday after Kershaw showed flu-like symptoms.
"We had Jeff Weaver at the ready," said Torre. "We sent him home (Tuesday) night saying, 'You're pitching Thursday, but you may pitch tomorrow.' So we had a backup plan where we would have flip-flopped them, if we felt he needed another day. But he feels pretty good."
Weaver, then, will pitch the opener of the series with Chicago. Randy Wolf goes Friday, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger gets his second start on Saturday and Chad Billingsley goes Sunday.
LOS ANGELES -- The news on Hiroki Kuroda remains positive -- amazingly so, really, given the frightening moment on Saturday when the Dodger pitcher was struck in the head by a line drive while pitching at Arizona.
Stan Conte, the team's trainer and director of medical services, said tests conducted before Monday's Dodgers-Cardinals game confirmed that Kuroda had a mild concussion, and nothing more, and while the pitcher is experiencing intermittent headaches, they are mild, and at times he has no symptoms at all.
"Today was better than I expected," said Conte.
That was also true when Kuroda spent time on an exercise bike -- testing to see if an increased heart rate would bring on increased symptoms, another indicator of the degree of the concussion -- and had no adverse effects.
Still, Conte sent the pitcher home once the tests were complete, well before Monday's game, not wanting him to be part of game-time activity, even as a spectator.
"The brain has to heal," said Conte. "All the sensory stimulation that's out here, which is amazing -- the clubhouse, the background sounds, the crowd, all that kind of stuff -- overstimulates the brain.
"So we sent him away to just have him rest. But we'll bring him back, and if he's doing well, I'm going to want him to see how he responds to a lot of the sensory input, and whether that increases or decreases the symptoms.
"I'm not sure that will be tomorrow (Tuesday). It will depend how he's doing."
Kuroda is also scheduled to see a Los Angeles neurologist Tuesday for further examination.
While the pitcher is doing well, Conte said it's impossible to know when he'll be ready to return to action. Brain function must be at 100 percent before he's cleared to play -- to return at less would increase susceptibility to another concussion -- and recovery time is unpredictable.
"Some of these mild concussions clear up in a couple days," said Conte. "Others remain for several weeks. So it's a little bit of an unknown at this point."
Manager Joe Torre was encouraged enough by Kuroda's condition to make a small joke.
"I asked some questions today in English for Kenji (Nimura, Kuroda's translator), and he seemed to know the question before Kenji translated. So I'm not sure what was triggered over there. I mean, I'm not accusing him of anything," he added, to laughter.
"But the greatest gift for me right now is that smile on his face. And he feels a lot better than we all thought he would when it first happened."
Torre said, not surprisingly, that Kuroda will definitely miss his Thursday turn in the rotation -- no decision has been made about a replacement -- and that there's no way to know how the pitcher will react when he gets back on the mound.
"I think each one's an individual case," he said, "whether it's a hitter (or pitcher) -- and I've been that hitter. Frank Robinson was that hitter.
"It takes a little bit of a meeting with yourself, because there you are back out there, and it's got to be a déjà vu involved in there somewhere. But I think with each individual, it's a hurdle you've got to deal with. And you can't practice it.
"It'll be when you go out there, and then see how you are."
Selected comments from Joe Torre's pregame press conference:
Asked what advise he had given Manny Ramirez:
"Well, you know, some of my advice was basically just to concentrate on what you have to do ahead. You can't really do anything about the past, and the fact that he's already apologized, and hasn't denied wrongdoing, and really, I don't think there's much more.
"I just really want him, and I need honesty from here in the early going, especially, about the kind of shape he's going to be in playing this game. I know he wants to go out there and be there every day, but I'm not sure how much -- again, until we start playing -- to find out what kind of game shape he's in."
Asked -- having managed Jason Giambi when he returned to baseball after discontinuing steroid use and struggled -- if he was confident Ramirez would still be the same player:
"I think everybody's a separate case and we're going to have to wait and see. I wish I had those answers. I think you're going to have to play the game and see where he is.
"The only thing I do know is that Manny is a legitimately good hitter. You know, Jason was more a power-type guy, and I remember encouraging Jason early on to just think about hitting line drives the other way. And it really wasn't the right advice, because it wasn't until he started -- that Donny [Mattingly] sort of encouraged him to pull the ball -- that he got more of his bat speed back. But I was just trying to keep him from trying to hit home runs at the start.
"Manny's a little more -- even though Jason, in my opinion, is a .300 hitter -- Manny is probably a little more adept at using the whole field and has his whole career."
Asked if he is concerned Ramirez' return will be a distraction:
"No. You should have been around our ballclub here. It's been a little tight, because we haven't scored many runs. So I think Manny coming on board is certainly going to lessen the load on a lot of these kids.
"But I don't think it's going to be a chemistry problem. I really don't. I'd be very surprised if that was the case."
Asked for his thoughts on fan support for Ramirez:
"Well, I don't think baseball's cornered the market on that. I think we've seen it in other walks of life.
"Am I defending what he did? Is he defending what he did? No. And certainly, the young kids need to get a message that what any of the players did, and have been punished for, certainly isn't advisable for them. Even though we're role models, whether we want it or not, that's who we are.
"But again, on the other side of the coin, knowing Manny the person, first of all, you can't control how people are going to react to him, but as far as him paying the punishment and coming back, I mean, do we think he should be out of the game for life.
"He made a mistake, he's done his time, and now he's going to come back. And as I say, I think it's going to be a little time before he's back to being the guy we're used to seeing."
Asked how he was dealing with the situation:
"I'm trying to get as much sleep as I can. We go from here to New York, and I have a sense there maybe another person or two there.
"I'm happy that he's back, because as I said, the ballclub, we've been doing well. We've won our share of games and maybe a few more. I think they're ready for him to come back.
"I'm answering the questions, they're answering the questions, and I think now that he's back -- and again, not that the questions are going to stop here in the immediate future, but I think they're ready for it.
"And that's more of a relief that this is over with. We haven't been holding our breath till he came back, because we obviously wouldn't have played as well. But a lot of our guys have really, I don't want to say have gone above and beyond. They've tried as hard as they could try. And as I've mentioned a number of times, we've been fortunate in a lot of games that we have won. We had a lot of home games and we had a lot of chances to walk off where we didn't have to defend a lead. And I call that luck, schedule-wise. The type of team we've had so far, it certainly isn't luck. They've worked at it. But certainly, where we played the game gave us a little bit of an edge."
With the Lakers out of town, I took the opportunity to check in with the Dodgers Wednesday. Here's some of the material from Joe Torre's pregame media session:
Manny Ramirez's first semi-public appearance at Dodger Stadium since beginning his 50-game suspension -- visiting with teammates and talking briefly to a handful of reporters on Tuesday -- serves as a reminder that the outfielder's return (July 3, unless the Dodgers have a rain-out between now and then) is drawing near.
So does the fact that manager Joe Torre is starting to think about the minor-league rehab assignment that will precede Ramirez's return, telling Ramirez during his Tuesday visit that they'd discuss the matter next week when the Dodgers return from their brief road trip to Texas.
"Ideally, you'd want to do something where he's going to be in the same place for a while, as opposed to having a carnival atmosphere everyplace you go," Torre said. "That's not idea', but again, that's just something you have to deal with. Speaking of carnival, we're going to New York as soon as he gets activated anyway, and we know what that's going to be like. So it's just part of when you're a public person, and you're in sports, and as good a player as he is, you attract a lot of attention. That's just part of what goes with it."
It's not so much trying to avoid that carnival as much as minimize the number of times it moves to a new city, he said.
"I'd rather it be new in one place and then just stay there. But I don't know if the schedule's going to let us do that," Torre said. "It's not trying to run away from something. You're just trying to have him go someplace where he's playing baseball, and spend most of his time doing that."
Ideally, he said, that rehab stint would be with triple-A Albuerquerque -- "because the pitchers have a better chance of throwing the ball over the plate" -- and a quick look at the schedule for the Dodgers' minor-league affiliates would seem to make that a strong possibility.
Looking 10 to 12 games ahead of that July 3 return date -- the triple-A Isotopes are home from June 18-26, make one four-day road trip to Omaha (June 27-30) and then are home again July 1-2. Double-A Chattanooga has a six-game road trip in that same interval (although all six games are at Huntsville), and class-A Inland Empire of San Bernardino alternates home and road series.
Short staff: With off days Thursday and Monday -- as well as the one last Monday -- the Dodgers will be able to take three turns through the pitching rotation without calling on a fifth starter. Hiroki Kuroda, Randy Wolf and Chad Billingsley will pitch in the weekend series at Texas; Clayton Kershaw, Kuroda and Wolf in the Tuesday-Thursday home series with Oakland, and Billingsley in next Friday's opener of the three-game series at Anaheim. The Saturday game in that series will be the next time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, and Torre will have to choose who gets the start, since Eric Milton, who had been the fifth starter, is now on the disabled list.
More book reviews: Torre's book "The Yankee Years" was back in the news Wednesday, with a New York post story that outfielder Johnny Damon was unhappy with critical comments by Torre in the book.
Torre said he was "very careful" specifically in his comments about Damon specifically -- "I don't think there was anything in there that really shouldn't be discussed" -- and with the book in general.
In fact, when someone started to ask him a question about writing "a tell-all book," Torre interrupted with good-natured but clear exasperation.
"It's not a tell-all book!" he said. "I read that thing six times and said everything I wanted to say, knowing that I was going to read it and I wasn't afraid to work with Tommy (Verducci, the co-author) because I trusted him.
"If I had just retired from New York" -- rather than joining the Dodgers -- "that book still would have been written. When I won 1,000 games as a Yankee manager and people were asking to reflect, I said, 'I can't reflect. I'm still doing this.'
"This was a chance for me to enjoy it, finally. Everybody thinks because I left the Yankees, this is one of those books where I dropped it in a room and ran. This was a book I wanted to write because it was sort of therapy for me, too, to look back and admire and enjoy the time I spent there and the success we had.
"But I certainly spent a lot of time in not violating anything. But again, that doesn't mean that every single person's going to agree with my evaluation. But that's the way I approached it."
No hanging Chad: Torre is clearly pleased with the progress Chad Billingsley -- 8-3 with a 2.73 ERA after Tuesday's win over San Diego -- has made from last season, when he was 16-10 with a 3.14 ERA.
"He bends but won't break," said Torre. "(Tuesday) night was just frustrating as hell for him. He'd get to two strikes and he couldn't put people away. It's just foul ball, foul ball. I think a big part of that was his breaking ball wasn't probably as good as it normally is. That's usually a pitch he can use to put people away."
Billingsley gave up eight hits, two walks and three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, laboring through 117 pitches, but did manage to pick up the win.
"He's in such a good place right now, even with a game like yesterday, to have a presence," said Torre. "Last year, he came unraveled a lot. He was young, learning, I think it's something you have to understand to make adjustments as you go along.
"Right now, especially after the last game he pitched last year in Philadelphia, and he carried that all winter" -- a playoff loss in which he went just 2 2/3 innings, giving up four hits, four walks and three earned runs -- "he came this spring with the understanding that there were certain things he felt he could do better."
He has covered the last four Olympics, as well as the World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, NCAA Final Four and a wide variety of other events.