DH more of pain than hamstring for Bonilla Leyland keeps him at 3rd

Leiter seeks turnaround


October 21, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- It will take more than a bad hamstring and falling temperatures for Florida's Bobby Bonilla to be his club's designated hitter in the World Series.

Bonilla appeared to be bothered by the strained hamstring several times in Game 2 on Sunday, grabbing at the back of his leg during at-bats and running cautiously. But Marlins manager Jim Leyland said the former Oriole wouldn't DH tonight in Game 3.

"It's important to have your best team out there," Leyland said, "and Bobby Bonilla is part of our best team. He should be ready to go."

Bonilla, who injured the hamstring while fielding a ground ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, is 2-for-7 in the World Series and 12-for-42 (.286) with one homer and seven RBIs in the postseason. Left-handed-hitting Jim Eisenreich, with four at-bats in the postseason, will be the DH -- weather permitting. Showers are in the forecast today, and temperatures are supposed to dip into the 30s by night.

Leyland also said Gary Sheffield, who bats in front of Bonilla, didn't need X-rays after being hit on the left wrist by Chad Ogea in the first inning Sunday. He's expected to start again in right field, with Darren Daulton getting the nod over Jeff Conine at first base.

Turning cold shoulder

Leyland's 85-year-old mother, Veronica, will attend tonight's game. "I'm more worried about the cold for my mom than I am the players," he said, "but I'm not going to buy her a fur coat, I can tell you that."

The Marlins aren't total strangers to winter-like conditions. They played a game in April in Chicago that is believed to be the coldest in the history of Wrigley Field.

"It was like zero chill factor," Leyland said.

Turning his attention to the present, Leyland added, "It's cold, so what? They know it's cold, I know it's cold, the other dugout knows it's cold. It's no big deal. It's not going to slow down [the game] any more than the commercials."

Ask and you shall receive

Al Leiter, Florida's starter tonight, asked for it, so he has no one to blame but himself.

Coming off a 1996 when he won a career-high 16 games, posted a 2.93 ERA and threw the first no-hitter in Marlins history, Leiter said he would trade another good season for a world championship. Florida is three victories away from getting there, and Leiter is holding up his end of the bargain.

He slipped to 11-9 during the regular season, with an ERA that rocketed to 4.34. He also went on the disabled list twice, with a bruised bone in his right knee and a pulled left groin muscle.

"I hate to say I jinxed myself. I said something that I hope wasn't a taboo," he said. "I really don't mind. I'll play second fiddle for a little while, but not too long."

The Marlins hope he steps up to lead violinist tonight.

"He had some health problems early on. I think he got behind a little bit in spring training and it took him a while to catch up," Leyland said. "His stuff is outstanding, he just hasn't been as consistent as he needs to be. But he's capable at any time of pitching an outstanding ballgame."

The left-hander still is looking for his first postseason win this year. He didn't get a decision in Game 2 of the Division Series, allowing four runs and seven hits in four innings against San Francisco, and took the loss in Game 4 of the NLCS against Atlanta, giving up 10 hits and four runs in six innings. Leiter also worked 2 1/3 shutout innings in relief in Game 2.

The way Florida's rotation is set, Leiter would start Game 7 on Sunday, if necessary. "It makes me feel good," said Leiter, who also appeared in the 1993 World Series with Toronto. "It makes me feel like I have a shot at doing something here. I'm not thinking about the negative aspect that I was overlooked in the previous series. Quite frankly, I've been inconsistent enough not to deserve it. But I know what I'm capable of doing."

Leyland knows what Leiter can't do -- get too pumped up. "He has a tendency to overthrow, and then his control isn't very good," Leyland said. "He's got to stay calm and have good rhythm. When he does that, he's fine."

0-1 seems Indians' pitch

The Indians are in the position they seem to favor this postseason, losing the first game on the road, then winning the second. It's worked twice so far, against New York in the Division Series and the Orioles in the ALCS.

"It's certainly not good for your stomach lining doing it that way, but hopefully history will keep repeating itself," said Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove.

Fan-tastic turnaround

It's not likely that anyone in the Cleveland organization appreciates the Indians' resurgence as much as Hargrove, a player back in the days when fans and wins were scarce, and the stadium and its location were a joke.

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