If you look hard enough, however, there's room to quibble. For one thing, the nearly-as-scorching Boston Red Sox (two games back at week's end) have refused to allow New York a plump cushion in the East. Righthander David Cone, 57-23 (.713) in his past 100 starts, slightly twisted his knee in Texas. Though not serious, the injury added to the 35-year-old Cone's already lengthy medical chart. Lefthander David Wells couldn't last long enough to get the win against the Rangers despite taking a 9-0 lead into the third inning, prompting Torre to barbecue the plump lefthander for being overweight and, at times, careless on the mound. Wells later met with Torre and Stottlemyre to try to persuade them that he's a team player-all the while laying out his personal needs, such as being allowed to pitch deep into games and to keep the weight on in order to feel strong. "He's the Boomer," Torre says. "Let's put it this way: He's on the same page with us. If we didn't have Boomer, my job might be dull."
Actually, when Davis comes back Torre must divide two spots (leftfield and DH) among four veterans (Curtis, Davis, Tim-Raines and Strawberry), a test even for the worry-proof Yankees manager who, Stottemyre says, "has more mini one-on-one meetings with players than anyone I've been around. He refuses to allow issues to become problems."
Says Torre, "Managing's not that complicated. It's like leaving a room. There are only two ways to go out: the door or the window."
It helps that Torre has a low-maintenance unit personified by the industrious Martinez, who blends into the crowd in any mall outside of New York despite his 405 RBIs over the last three-plus seasons (more than anyone in the league other than Albert Belle, who has 415). "I get recognized only if I walk around with Jeter," he says happily.
Consider the events at the Metrodome last Friday, a typical day for Martinez and the Yankees. Torre held an optional workout 4½ hours before the game. "Damn near every starting player showed up," Torre says. After the game the Yankees munched on steak and lobster without any of the music or frivolity found in almost every other winning clubhouse. In between the Yankees forced four Twins pitchers to throw 163 pitches in a game that consumed three hours, 11 minutes. That's how New York rolls on. The best team in baseball is going as fast as it can.
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