Unlike most managers, Torre has had a surprisingly upbeat attitude this spring. "I don't get here at 6:45 every morning anymore; now I get here at 6:55," he says with a laugh. "I can't help it. For me to be anything other than enthusiastic and positive would be cheating the kids who are here. I can't walk around with a chip on my shoulder. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But my concern for the kids keeps me focused."
He worries that many of the young players now in camp, primarily those from the Cardinals' Double A and Class A levels, will be caught in a squeeze of their own: St. Louis general manager Walt Jocketty has strongly advised them to serve as replacement players if asked, while the union has said they will be regarded as scabs if they do. Torre doesn't know what advice to give them. He also worries about the damage the strike has done to the game in the eyes of the fans. But one person he is not worried about is himself.
Last week, as Torre headed for his first meeting with the 111 players in camp, he waxed philosophical about the spot in which he and other managers now find themselves. "If you spent your whole life doing exactly what you wanted, it would get boring," he said. "Sometimes you're going to get that call: You have to go to the dentist."