NEW YORK -- It wouldn't be the World Series without a designated hitter controversy, but New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said yesterday that he would not juggle his regular season lineup to force Cecil Fielder or Darryl Strawberry into the batting order in Atlanta.
"We won't be able to get both in the lineup," Torre said. "Tino Martinez is our first baseman, as he has been all year. He's done the job all season, knocking in all the runs we asked him to. We will have a good bench in Atlanta. If Darryl is OK, he will start in the outfield."
The only way Fielder could play in games 3, 4 and 5 would be if Torre decided to platoon him with Martinez, who was the club's everyday first baseman and drove in 117 runs. He has struggled at the plate during the postseason, but not badly enough to persuade Torre to give away some of his playing time.
Torre would like to play Strawberry regularly in the outfield -- especially after his three-homer performance in the ALCS -- but Strawberry and a couple of other Yankees outfelders are playing with nagging injuries, so the arrangement probably will have to be made on a day-to-day basis.
Strawberry is hobbling on a broken toe. Tim Raines has been hampered by tight hamstrings. And Paul O'Neill has been bothered throughout the postseason by a painful hamstring strain.
Yankees roster unchanged
The Yankees chose not to make any roster changes between the ALCS and the World Series. Torre decided to keep reserve outfielder Mike Aldrete because of the club's uncertain outfield situation rather than activating a pitcher to give the team more depth in the bullpen.
Braves new world
The Braves are attempting to become the 14th team in major-league history to win at least two consecutive world titles. The last team to do it was the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992-1993. The last team to appear in four World Series over a five-year span was the Yankees, who did it from 1960 to 1964.
This is the eighth World Series appearance for the Braves' organization. The Yankees will be playing in the Fall Classic for the 34th time.
Torre is looking forward to the upcoming farewell visit to Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium, a ballpark he christened with the first major-league home run there in 1965.
"It'll be interesting playing the last game at Fulton County Stadium," Torre said. "I hit the first homer there. It's going to bring back some memories. It was a roller-coaster situation there. I played there. I managed there. I got fired there. I lived in Atlanta for eight years. I'm looking forward to going back there."
The Braves have heard all about how hard it is to play at Yankee Stadium, but Game 1 starter John Smoltz said last night that it still comes down to his club's ability to execute.
"That [home-field advantage] is a big part of the World Series,"Smoltz said, "especially here with the fans they have and the animosity they show toward visiting teams. You have to find a way to sneak a game out of here.
"I just think that it's a series that depends on who gets the hottest."
If it wasn't tough enough to go seven games against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Braves had a long and grueling travel day yesterday. They left Atlanta around noon and didn't arrive at Yankee Stadium until nearly 8 p.m. That included three hours in traffic after their plane arrived at Newark (N.J.) Airport.
The late arrival of the Braves prevented manager Bobby Cox from consulting with the club's advance scouts, so he had little to say about his starting lineup and did not name a designated hitter, though it probably will be Ryan Klesko. Cox also was noncommittal on his pitching plans, though it appears likely he'll change his rotation if tonight's game is rained out. He has Denny Neagle going in Game 2, but probably will move him back to Game 4 if the day off is wiped out.
Pub Date: 10/19/96