Dad better, Pettitte turns focus to Padres Seeking sweep, he'll make his first start in 12 days

World Series


October 21, 1998|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- New York Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte has a lot on his mind these days, but he said yesterday that he doesn't expect to have any trouble concentrating on the job at hand when he tries to close out the San Diego Padres in Game 4 of the World Series tonight.

Pettitte's father, Tom, underwent heart-bypass surgery in Houston on Thursday. The family emergency forced Pettitte to leave the team just as it was preparing to open the World Series, which probably cost him a chance to pitch Game 2 at Yankee Stadium.

"I think if I had had to throw in New York, it would have been tough," Pettitte said yesterday. "I talked to my dad this morning. He had a blood transfusion yesterday and he feels much better."

In his place, Cuban defector Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez pitched an outstanding game and the Yankees took a 2-0 lead. Now, Pettitte will get his belated chance to help the Yankees put the finishing touches on a historic season.

He stayed in shape by throwing in the bullpen at his old high school, but his ability to remain sharp -- especially in what has been an uncharacteristically inconsistent season -- could be a major issue in tonight's game.

"That's always a concern when you have a long time off," said Pettitte, who pitched in Game 3 of the ALCS on Oct. 9. "But I think with everything that went on -- obviously I would have liked to have pitched at Yankee Stadium -- but with my father's situation, it probably was the best thing."

No apologies

First baseman Wally Joyner tried to dispel the notion that the Padres were overmatched at Yankee Stadium, even though they were soundly defeated twice.

"I think the atmosphere is [positive]," he said. "I think we took some positive things out of New York. We would have liked to take a game out of New York, but we feel we played well in Game 1.

"I think, whether people believe it or not, we deserve to be in the World Series."

Stadium gap closed

San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, Padres chairman John Moores and Padres president Larry Lucchino held a news conference to discuss the club's plans for a new waterfront ballpark, the public funding of which must be approved by voters on Nov. 3.

"I think there is no question that the right baseball stadium in the right place will significantly increase attendance," Lucchino said. "Over the course of the years since John and I arrived, we have been lucky to have 2 million fans a year, but we expect 3 million-plus with a new stadium. This is a great baseball city."

The issue isn't whether the Padres and the city want a new stadium, but whether it will be economically feasible. The original funding plan -- even with voter approval of partial public funding -- included a $21 million shortfall, but Port Authority chairman David Malcolm punctuated the gathering yesterday by announcing that his agency would guarantee that amount.

Polls have shown voters divided almost evenly on the issue.

Around the horn

September sensation Shane Spencer returned to the Yankees' starting lineup last night, going 1-for-3 with a run scored. Manager Joe Torre decided to keep veteran switch-hitters Chili Davis and Tim Raines in reserve, so it came down to Chad Curtis (who had good career numbers against Padres pitcher Sterling Hitchcock) and Spencer, who cooled off after being the most valuable offensive player in the Division Series against Texas. "I felt that Spencer may be more of a power threat hitting behind [Scott] Brosius," Torre said. Yankees starter David Cone singled last night, making him 3-for-8 lifetime in the World Series. The Yankees' last World Series sweep was against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1950.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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