Henderson is no guarantee, Yanks say

August 02, 1993|By David L. Cummings | David L. Cummings,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- In getting Rickey Henderson, Toronto picked up one of the most dangerous players in baseball. But that doesn't scare the New York Yankees, who believe one man is not going to win the AL East.

"He's a great ballplayer. We all know that," Don Mattingly said. Mattingly and Randy Velarde are the only Yankees to have played with Henderson when he was in pinstripes, before he left the Bronx for Oakland.

"But it doesn't guarantee anything for anybody," Mattingly said. "As much as anything, it's a compliment to our club that they [the Blue Jays] feel like they have to do more to win this division. Obviously, there's a fear of ourselves and Boston and Baltimore, and anyone else in the race."

Toronto acquired the left fielder from the A's at the trading deadline Saturday night for Double-A right-hander Steve Karsay, the 22nd pick in the 1990 draft, and a minor-leaguer to be named later.

On the surface, the deal seems great. But why would Toronto go after an offensive player when it already has the second-best hitting team in the AL and desperately needs pitching?

"If you keep adding guys to offense, after a while who gives a damn about the pitching?" Yankees manager Buck Showalter said. "A pitcher gives up 10 runs? Good thing we got 11."

That's what Showalter said Friday. Now he hopes his words don't prove prophetic because the Yankees get the first look at Toronto with Henderson when the teams begin a four-game series at Yankee Stadium tonight, although Henderson won't be joining the club until tomorrow.

A few weeks ago Henderson let it be known he wouldn't mind returning to New York to play for the Yankees. Instead, Henderson, 34, returns with Toronto, and figures to bolster the team with his offensive and defensive ability.

With Henderson, who is batting .327 with 47 RBI and 31 stolen bases, leading off in front of Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter and John Olerud, the Blue Jays have an offensive machine. Henderson (.469) is second to Olerud (.502) in on-base percentage, and by joining Molitor (84), Devon White (80) and Alomar (77), he gives Toronto the top four of the top five players in runs scored in the AL before yesterday's games. Henderson is tied with Alomar and Rafael Palmiero.

Mike Gallego, who played with Henderson in Oakland for three years, said the outfielder will help Toronto, but that doesn't mean it will be enough to deprive the Yankees of the crown they seek.

"He's an athlete who comes to the park with a lot of confidence," Gallego said. "Whether he's slumping or not, he thinks he's going to do some damage. But to be honest, we can't be concerned about other ballclubs. We have to worry about ourselves, and I like our chances with what we have in this locker room."

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