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Postseason return tugs at Torre's emotions

Playoff return tugs at Torre's emotions

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PITTSBURGH -- Joe Torre had just advanced to the postseason, like that's never happened.

"It still chokes me up, to be honest with you," said Torre, who had temporarily postponed his postgame meeting with the media so he could tour the clubhouse, hugging the players who made it possible.

Pulse
Dodgers at a glance
2009 record: 95-67
2008 record: 84-78
NL West champs
NL best record
NLCS matchup:
Phillies at Dodgers
Postseason tix: Buy now

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Loney: Taking good swings
Kuo: Long road back
Thome: Back in Philly
Loney: Building resume
Bullpen: Led by Broxton
Torre: Rep precedes him
Blake: Chemistry guy
Kershaw: Game 1 nod?
Dodgers: Eyes on prize
Kemp: Path of the pros
Furcal: Back healthy
Kershaw: Like Koufax
Hudson: Keeping head up
Billingsley: Unknown role
Ethier: Slump over
Torre: Tough decisions
Kershaw: Elite comparisons
Kemp: Nearly elite
Kershaw: Path to the pros
Billingsley: Fate in balance
Ethier: Aims to improve
Torre: Back to playoffs
Kershaw: Ready to rock
Rotation: Plenty of options
Kemp: Chasing LA history
Bullpen: Dominant pair
Honeycutt: Pitching guru
Kemp: Tools to match talent
Ethier: Walk-off wonder
Billingsley: Vying for spot
Ethier/Kemp: Dynamic duo
Torre: Another pennant race
Pierre: Receives high praise
Kershaw: Beyond his years

And when Torre says he's being honest with you, you can't help but believe it. You've seen the images for almost a decade and a half, first with the Yankees, now with the Dodgers.

One of the most accomplished managers in the history of the game, with four World Series rings and an iconic reputation, letting his emotions show and he did it again for a few moments after Saturday night's 8-4 win over the Pirates.

"It's pretty amazing," Torre said. "I've spent my whole career as a player sitting at home in October. What's happened to me the last 14 years, it's absolutely amazing. My wife said in 1996 after we won the World Series, 'There it is, we can retire.' And I said, 'Let's see if we can do it again.' She's stopped asking."

Torre, 69, is in the second year of a three-year contract that he's said will probably be his last, while others speculate that if the Dodgers go all the way this season, he'll bow out on top. Of course, that's what his wife thought 13 years ago.

Now he's caught Atlanta's Bobby Cox with a Major League record-tying 14th consecutive postseason appearance as a manager. He's asked about catching Cox and he looked a little surprised.

Managers with the most consecutive postseason appearances
Manager
Team(s)
Seasons
Bobby Cox ATL 14 (1991-2005)
Joe Torre NYY, LAD 14 (1996-2009)
Mike Hargrove CLE 5 (1995-1999)
Casey Stengel NYY 5 (1949-1953)

"I don't know who I caught," he said. "Every time my contract came up in New York, I never wanted to go anywhere else and start over. To go to the postseason 12 times with the Yankees, and now two years with the Dodgers, I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Nobody could have dreamed of doing stuff like this."

So, even though he had earlier said there would be no clubhouse celebration until the Dodgers clinched the National League West title (the magic number is two), he softened his stance after talking to general manager Ned Colletti.

Managers with the most consecutive winning seasons (since 1900)
Manager
Team(s)
Winning seasons
Joe McCarthy CHC, NYY 21 (1926-46)
Sparky Anderson CIN, DET 17 (1972-88)
Earl Weaver BAL 15 (1968-82)
Bobby Cox ATL 15 (1991-2005)
Al Lopez CLE, CWS 15 (1951-65)
Fred Clarke PIT 14 (1900-13)
Joe Torre NYY, LAD 14 (1996-2009)

"I knew we had to recognize getting to the postseason," he said. "We don't want to let it go by without acknowledging it, but we still have more work to do."

Speaking of work, Torre was pushing the buttons in the winning eighth-inning rally on Saturday. Even though Mark Loretta had a single and RBI double in three at-bats, he sent James Loney to hit with two on and one out. The Pirates countered with left-hander Phil Dumatrait, but Loney drew a walk to load the bases. With Russell Martin up, the Pirates brought on right-hander Steve Jackson, but Torre answered by pinch-hitting for Martin with Andre Ethier, who walked in the tying run.

Orlando Hudson battled back from an 0-2 count to walk in the tiebreaking run and Torre took the wraps off the crippled Jim Thome to hit for pitcher George Sherrill. Thome lined a two-run single to right field, even though he would have been thrown out at first if right fielder Garrett Jones had tried. Thome is 3-for-12 pinch-hitting for the Dodgers and figures to make the postseason roster, even though he can't run or play the field.

"You know what? He's a threat," Torre said. "I have to stay away from a double-play situation with him. With the bases loaded, that's a different animal. He's aware of the strike zone. They have to pitch to him. He knows what he's doing."

Just like his manager.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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