Leyland takes left-right title cut Marlins manager adjusts order in Game 7

Cuban mom of Hernandez arrives

October 27, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- Anticipating heavy use of the Cleveland Indians' bullpen last night, Florida Marlins manager Jim Leyland alternated left-handed and right-handed hitters throughout most of his lineup. And for the first time, Bobby Bonilla was dropped from the cleanup spot, batting sixth between right-handed hitters Moises Alou and Charles Johnson.

"In Game 7, everybody's going to use every pitcher they have," said Leyland, who went left-right except for Edgar Renteria and Gary Sheffield batting second and third. "I tried to stay away from a situation where you could get too right and too left for guys."

The move also was influenced by Bonilla's slump. Limited by a strained hamstring, the former Oriole was batting .167 (4-for-24) with two RBIs and three strikeouts before last night. He also had grounded into three double plays.

"I think he's trying to lift the ball a little bit too much right now, probably because of the leg," Leyland said. "He hit into a couple double plays and I think he's conscious of it. So, get him down and hopefully get him away from that."

Darren Daulton, hitting .467 (7-for-15) with a home run in the Series, batted fourth. "I finally figured it out about 3 o'clock this morning," Leyland said.

No start for Roberts

Bip Roberts, who turns 34 today, was out of the lineup after leaving Game 6 because of flu-like symptoms, depriving the Indians of a natural leadoff hitter. Shortstop Omar Vizquel, who in the fifth inning last night became the ninth player in World Series history to steal two bases in an inning, took Roberts' place atop the order.

Indians manager Mike Hargrove said Roberts was "no better, no worse" than Saturday night.

"I just didn't want to take the chance of Bip having to come out in the second or third inning and wasting a player," Hargrove said.

Sorry, Charlie

Charlie Nagy was disappointed not to start Game 7 for the Indians, losing the assignment to rookie Jaret Wright, but he arrived ready to help any way he could. That was the attitude Hargrove expected from his right-hander, who was 0-1 with a 5.16 ERA in four postseason starts. He had walked 15 in 22 2/3 innings.

"He took it well," Hargrove said. "It was a very difficult decision, and a very difficult thing to talk to anybody about who has any pride in their abilities. This is not a slap in Charlie's face or a comment that we don't have confidence in Charlie. It's just the way we decided to go, and that's the way he took it. Bottom line, I felt that Jaret Wright, on the 26th of October, 1997, gave us a better chance to win than Charlie Nagy."

Wright, at 21 years, 9 months and 27 days of age, was the second-youngest pitcher to start Game 7 in a World Series. Kansas City's Bret Saberhagen was 21 years, 6 months, 16 days when he shut out St. Louis in the 1985 Series.

Wright's start was the fifth for a rookie in this Series, a total exceeded only in the 1912 classic between the Giants and Red Sox, when seven starts were made by first-year players.

Expanded enthusiasm

First baseman Jeff Conine, the last original Marlin on the roster, said the perception of expansion teams probably has changed with Florida's World Series run in only its fifth year of existence. He also admitted his club and the Colorado Rockies aren't "the norm as far as history shows."

What does this mean for baseball's two newest teams, Tampa Bay and Arizona, which begin play next season?

"I think with both situations, with the fan interest and the ownership that they have, they're going to win quickly. They're going to want to win quickly," Conine said.

"Any player that I've talked to is excited about the prospect of playing at either of those places."

Conine said he feared baseball's future in Miami after the strike that canceled the 1994 World Series. The Marlins were less than 2 years old.

"We hadn't really given it a chance to take hold here in South Florida," he said. "We didn't have the benefits of the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs, who have been around so long and built such a great fan base. But I think they've come back well here."

A tragic memory

Reflecting on his tenure with the Indians, Hargrove admitted the spring training boating accident in 1993 that killed pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews "probably stunted my growth as a manager."

"I think I became too concerned with making the players feel good and feel good about themselves, trying to get us back on track. And maybe I felt that players were a lot more fragile than they are mentally, and it took me a while to get out of that," he said.

"It's an experience that I went through that was a very difficult period, and it's become a very private, personal moment now."

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