Injured Bonilla is no designated sitter Third baseman will keep playing field despite hamstring, Leyland says

World Series notebook

October 23, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- Bobby Bonilla and his strained hamstring were back at third base for the Florida Marlins last night. They'll be out there again in Game 5 tomorrow, and for as long as the World Series drags along.

Marlins manager Jim Leyland couldn't stress that point enough yesterday. And he couldn't understand why the debate raged on over whether the former Oriole would be better off limiting his duties to designated hitter.

"I'm going to continue to push him at third," Leyland said. "I don't really know why the DH thing has come up all of a sudden just dTC because of a slight pull. He definitely has a slight pull, there's no question about that, but it seems to me that the media is making a big deal about why not DH him. And my point is, what if he hits a single and tries to turn it into a double, or hits a ground ball to second base? Isn't he more likely to pull it doing that than standing on third base? If he can't play third base because his leg is bad, he probably can't play."

Bonilla, who suffered the injury fielding a ground ball in ninth inning of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, is remembered in Baltimore for his disdain for serving as the DH, a brief experiment that put him at odds with manager Davey Johnson.

"I'm not going to speak out of turn or speak about somebody else's business, what happened last year," Leyland said. "I can tell you from my past experience and present experience with Bobby that he's an active, hyper guy. And I'll leave it at that."

Bonilla went from first to third on a ninth-inning single by Darren Daulton in Game 3, and scored the go-ahead run on an errant throw by center fielder Marquis Grissom. He also singled in two runs that same inning, and earlier made a sensational play at third base, diving to his right and throwing from his knee to get the out. But he also committed two errors, which Leyland said weren't caused by the hamstring.

"They were just errors," he said.

Hernandez's world

When Leyland says Livan Hernandez, his Game 5 starter, is "in a little world of his own," he means it in a good way.

Leyland doesn't expect Hernandez, a Cuban native who hadn't seen snow until pitching in Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Maine, while in the Marlins' minor-league system, to be affected by the winter-like setting at Jacobs Field.

"I don't think he has fear," Leyland said. "I think he has respect, and that's very important. He pitched in an interleague game against the New York Yankees after just being brought up, so I don't think anything is going to shock this young man. This is a very tough kid. He'll be fine."

If he feels discomfort tonight, he'll have "a little bit of coffee and just go out and throw the baseball," Hernandez said through an interpreter.

He pitched in more favorable conditions in Florida while winning Game 1, though he didn't have good command and was removed after giving up three runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"To be honest with you, I don't like the cold," he said. "I like it when it's hot. But these are the times when you can't worry whether it's hot or cold. You've just got to go out and pitch."

Hernandez's mom to show?

Reports are circulating that Hernandez's mother, still living in Cuba, might be here for tonight's game.

"I don't know anything about what's going on. I don't know if she's coming, I don't know if she's staying in Cuba, I wish she was here, but I really don't know anything about it," he said.

Hernandez, who again will oppose Orel Hershiser, said he last spoke to his mother a couple days ago. "Yes, 100 percent, I'd love for her to be here, but I don't know anything that's happening."

Seitzer stays ready

Though Kevin Seitzer didn't have an at-bat in the World Series before last night and went to the plate only eight times in the postseason -- without a hit -- Indians manager Mike Hargrove hadn't forgotten him. Seitzer makes it difficult not to notice.

"I've been around a lot of players in the big leagues," Hargrove said, "and I probably have run across very, very few of them who understand hitting as well as, or as much as, Kevin Seitzer. He's very knowledgeable about what makes him a good hitter and very knowledgeable about what makes other people good hitters. And if you know Kevin at all, you know he's not afraid to talk about it."

"I like listening to people who know what they're talking about, and I like to get in discussions with Kevin about stuff like that. He's helped in that regard a lot."

A career .295 hitter, Seitzer, 35, is retiring after the World Series.

Saunders likes catcher

Marlins rookie Tony Saunders, last night's Game 4 starter, is the latest Florida pitcher to rave about catcher Charles Johnson, who won his third Gold Glove yesterday.

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