Torre: 'It was just a matter of time' before Rays became winners
PHILADELPHIA – Dodgers manager Joe Torre is out of pinstripes, now in another league, hoping to lead another team to the World Series. But the former longtime Yankees skipper had a closer look at the Tampa Bay Rays than most. Playing the Rays 18 times a year, Torre had a unique vantage point from the opposing dugout, watching a young team take its lumps before winning the AL East this season.
Before Friday’s NLCS Game 2, Torre said he wasn’t surprised to see the Rays finally become winners after 10 losing seasons.
“You could tell every year they were tougher to beat,” Torre said. “Whether is was (Rocco) Baldelli or (Carl) Crawford, they kept adding one factor after another -- speed, sneaky power – and once they started addressing the pitching – once the pitching they had started growing -- you knew it was just a matter of time before they were able to control the game a little bit better.
“For them to go from worst to first, yeah, that’s a surprise that it happened that quickly, but I think they just got on a roll,” Torre said.
Torre said it was quite a feat for the Rays to hold off Boston to win the division – a division that used to be dominated by his Yankees and the Red Sox.
“They certainly were tested all year,” he said. “Even though they had the lead all year, they still had to go out there and fight Boston off all year long. So I give Joe Maddon a great deal of credit for that, just to keep these kids focused and not too excited. He did a great job.”
Torre could make another trip to the Trop, this time with the World Championship on the line, if the Rays win and his Dodgers can overcome a 1-0 deficit to the Phillies.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Photo: Associated Press