Torre eager for challenge to lead U.S. in Classic

By Paul Hagen / 12/03/2012 8:32 PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Joe Torre hasn't managed since stepping down from the Dodgers at the end of the 2010 season. Before that, he spent 29 years on the job with five different teams, most notably winning the World Series four times with the Yankees.

"I've been asked many times since I retired if I miss it. And I really can't say that I have," Torre said Monday during a news conference at the Winter Meetings. "I enjoy watching it. When I saw all the [Division] Series go five games, I didn't want to be in either dugout for Game 5, just because of the stress factor. The whole thing about it is, it's exciting when you win, it's devastating when you lose. And the devastation got a little bit too much."
Still, the allure of managing Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic was too good of an opportunity to pass up. The complete 28-man roster will be revealed on Jan. 16, but it was announced on Monday that Mets third baseman David Wright and Twins catcher Joe Mauer will play for the United States.
A big reason Torre agreed to return to the bench is that the first game will be March 7, and if the United States goes all the way to the finals, it will end about three weeks later.
"It's kind of like having your grandchildren, and then at the end of three weeks, you turn them back over to their parents. And it's nice. You're going to enjoy them and you're going to love them, and hopefully, we all have a good time," he said with a smile. "This is something that's obviously different than managing 12 months a year. Because it's more than the [regular] season when you're a manager."
Torre acknowledged that the World Baseball Classic is invaluable in helping grow baseball around the globe. But that's not his primary goal.
"I think we certainly want to promote the game internationally. We have the best players in the world. I'm a little prejudiced in that regard," he said. "But you want to win. That's my mind-set. When we do finally nail down the players, that's going to be my conversation with every one of them. It's not that we're just going to go out there. It's something more than an All-Star team."
The United States has not reached the final in either of the previous two Classics. Torre thinks there are some reasons why.
"Some of the other countries like Japan and the Latin-American countries have played all winter long. And they're probably in better shape and that's probably our biggest challenge, is to get our team ready physically. And, of course, following the physical part is the mental part where you dig in," Torre explained.
"The interesting thing about our Spring Training in the U.S. is the fact that it's more of a physical grind than a mental grind. So that's why we'll have the names next month, so mentally, they can start getting ready to take on the competition the first week in March, which is a little different."
That doesn't change the fact that he is in it to win it.
"I'm under the assumption that anybody's who's going to put on the uniform for the USA team is going to be motivated to go out there and play to win," he said. "It's going to be a team that's hopefully put together with winning in mind. In other words, having your role-type players. I'm thinking of taking three, possibly, catchers. It's going to be [about] winning. There's no question. You put on the uniform and you're out there in front of the world, you certainly want to put your best foot forward."
At the same time, Torre will be mindful of the reality that these are players who will be in the early stages of Spring Training when the team assembles. They have full Major League seasons ahead of them. He will do everything he can to make sure they return to their teams healthy.
"We're certainly interested in having top-name players, but we're also interested in having 28 players, half of which will be pitchers, to make it work as a team. You can't just have everybody that would start at every position two or three deep," he said. "Because I don't think it would be fair, especially in Spring Training, where it's important to make sure we send the players back -- pitchers, certainly -- to make sure they're returned in shape to start the season.
"I think when we get our team together, [pitching coach Greg Maddux] will contact pitching coaches, and I'll contact managers and general managers on the use of their players. We certainly don't want to do anything they wouldn't do in their Spring Training."
In the end, how well the United States team fares shouldn't be too complicated.
"It's going to come down to how well you pitch and how well you catch the ball," he said. "That's basically what winning is about, in my opinion, in a short series."