Dad better, Pettitte turns focus to Padres Start is his first in 12 days

Brown expected to get call


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 faces the San Diego Padres in Game 4 tonight at Qualcomm Stadium.

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."

Is there any doubt?

San Diego manager Bruce Bochy declined before last night's game to name the starter for tonight, but it almost certainly will be pitching ace Kevin Brown.

Brown was hit in the left shin by a sharp comebacker in Game 1 and was pitching with a sinus infection. He has shown some improvement over the past few days, but was not all the way back when he worked on the side Monday.

"He's not 100 percent," Bochy said. "He's still feeling the effects. And he had some fatigue. But we're optimistic that he'll be fine, and be OK to go tomorrow."

The Padres' chances of putting up a fight in the series always depended on him making three starts, so the only thing keeping him off the mound would be his health.

"I'd be very surprised [if he doesn't pitch]," said veteran first baseman Wally Joyner. "I think it's just a matter of when Bruce asks him to do it."

Joyner also disputed the notion the Padres were overmatched at Yankee Stadium. "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."

Polls have shown voters divided almost evenly on the issue.

Spencer returns

September sensation Shane Spencer returned to the starting lineup last night.

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.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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