SURPRISE, Ariz. — Joe Torre, chatting with reporters Wednesday in his new role as MLB’s executive vice-president for baseball operations, displayed the same relaxed manner he did in his daily news conferences as a manager.
Torre touched on a wide variety of topics, offering insights on the pace of game, Michael Young’s situation with the Rangers and MLB’s recent hirings of Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng, former Diamondbacks assistant GM and Peter Woodfork as senior VPs.
Pace of game is an issue that Torre will now tackle from a different perspective. During his days managing the Yankees, the Yankees and Red Sox received frequent criticism for playing lengthy games.
“I want to look at it,” Torre said. “That’s a dirty job for the umpires. In talking to the managers, that’s certainly something we’ve mentioned.
“As managers — and this only came to me when I was part of the commissioner’s committee (for on-field matters) — we have to do our share. Have the players understand what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to change guys’ idiosyncracies. But we want to at least make them aware that it’s not a punishment.
“It’s just something we’re trying to work on. It’s a hot button for the commissioner. I don’t think there’s any question about it. It’s a ‘feel’ thing at this time. I’m not trying to avoid the question. It’s more, ‘let’s look at it.’”
As for his new senior VPs, Torre worked with Ng with both the Yankees and Dodgers. He is less familiar with Woodfork, but offered high praise for both.
“She’s very efficient. She’s very bright," Torre said of Ng. "As a manager, I always tried to hire people smarter than I am, because it certainly helps. She has a lot of baseball knowledge. She’s very organized.
“I just met Peter last week. I’m very impressed with his abilities. I think the energy level at MLB is going to be very impressive. These people know what they’re doing.
"Down the road, I’m sure they aspire to be the general manager of a club. This is great for two people who have been on both sides of this thing. They both worked for MLB at one time.”
And finally, Torre mentioned that he personally complimented Michael Young while visiting the Rangers on Wednesday. Young has requested a trade from the Rangers, but has gone about his business professionally this spring.
“I told him I was proud of him. I said that he’s a grownup,” Torre said. “The thing about baseball is that there’s a lot of unpredictability about the game. You have to understand that you’ve got to be ready.
“They say managers change their mind — that’s true. But managers make decisions on what you have available to you on that particular day. If something changes, it’s not like you’re changing your mind, but you have a different set of circumstances to deal with.
“But Michael Young is a throwback for me. He just works hard. You try to tell players, ‘Control the things you can control.’ Leave the other stuff to somebody else. He’s certainly doing that.”
— Ken Rosenthal