Smoltz has his turn in relief role

Braves starter gets save in 1st appearance out of 'pen

Playoff notebook

October 14, 1999|By Peter Schmuck and Roch Kubatko | Peter Schmuck and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For the third time in the postseason, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox had a member of his magnificent starting rotation do double duty in the bullpen.

Yesterday, it was John Smoltz coming on for the ninth inning in the first relief appearance of his career.

"I didn't know what was going on," said Smoltz, who had made 379 major-league starts without ever pitching out of the bullpen. "I didn't know what to do -- walk in, run in."

He compromised with a jog and did just fine in the unprecedented situation. Shawon Dunston grounded out, Roger Cedeno flied out, and pinch hitter Bobby Bonilla was called out on strikes to end the game.

"Obviously, I wanted to get the first hitter out," Smoltz said. "I knew if I got the first hitter out, that would take care of my nerves. I knew that from all my experience with the role, which was none."

Cox said all of his starters have the mentality to work out of the bullpen. In Game 3 of the Division Series, Cox used both Greg Maddux and Kevin Millwood during a 5-3 win over the Astros. Millwood picked up the first save of his career with a scoreless 12th inning.

Remlinger gets new deal

The Braves signed left-handed reliever Mike Remlinger to a two-year contract extension.

"Mike's done a remarkable job for us," said Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz. "He's really been an important, sort of a linchpin kind of performer for our bullpen. And we feel so strongly about that, we're very happy to have him continue in the organization."

O'Neill returns to lineup

Right fielder Paul O'Neill, whose availability has been questionable because of a broken rib, was in the starting lineup for the Yankees last night.

O'Neill worked out on Tuesday and expressed confidence that he would be ready to play, but he still had to convince manager Joe Torre. He met with Torre yesterday and made a strong enough case to overcome the manager's concerns.

Leyritz dropped

Yankees utility player Jim Leyritz was the odd man out when Torre set his roster for the American League Championship Series, and he wasn't particularly happy about it.

Torre announced that Leyritz had been deactivated in favor of outfielder Shane Spencer, who will provide outfield depth while O'Neill tries to play through a broken rib.

"In answer to the question as to whether I'm upset or surprised about this, the answer is yes," Leyritz said in a statement.

Another voice

Fox baseball analyst and former major-league manager Kevin Kennedy said yesterday that he would listen if the Orioles showed interest in him for their vacant managerial position, but he did not seem particularly enthusiastic about it.

"I've always said, after doing it a couple of times, I'm not going to solicit a job," Kennedy said last night. "If somebody calls, I'll listen."

Kennedy indicated that if he manages again, he would prefer to do it close to his Los Angeles home, but did not rule out talking to the Orioles or exhibit any reluctance to deal with owner Peter Angelos.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 10/14/99

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