Cox keeps pat hand on roster

Torre adds secret weapon Leyritz

He has 7 postseason HRs

left-out Spencer asks trade

Notebook

World Series

October 23, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox and his counterpart, the New York Yankees' Joe Torre, are taking different approaches to setting up their rosters for the World Series.

Cox apparently will stand pat, though he has until noon today to change his mind. He'll most likely stay with nine pitchers and keep Jorge Fabregas as a third catcher because of continued concerns over the knee of Eddie Perez, the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series.

"We're still worried about Eddie's knee blowing out," Cox said. "He's going to have that taken care of as soon as the Series is over."

Torre, meanwhile, has substituted Jim Leyritz for outfielder Shane Spencer and will need a replacement for infielder Luis Sojo, whose father died Thursday. Sojo will miss the opener, and commissioner Bud Selig refused the Yankees' request to add a player.

Leyritz has an impressive postseason resume, hitting .375 with the momentum-shifting home run in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series against the Braves and four homers to lead the San Diego Padres into last year's Fall Classic. He has seven postseason home runs overall.

"I remember Charlie Hayes' swinging bunt that set up the inning more than the home run," Cox said, looking back on Game 4. "If that hadn't happened, they wouldn't have scored."

Spencer didn't take the news well, asking to be traded. Torre said the only reason Leyritz wasn't on the roster for the ALCS was because he needed outfield insurance with Paul O'Neill playing with a cracked rib.

"Joe had told me, `Looking at the two teams that are left in the National League, you're pretty much going to be on that roster. The World Series is your time. We want you to stay around, stay in shape and be ready.' And that's what I did," Leyritz said.

What makes Leyritz come up so big in games of this magnitude? "I don't think. If you start thinking, you get in trouble," he said.

Sojo left the club before Game 1 of the American League Championship Series after learning that his father had been rushed to a New Jersey hospital and would undergo emergency surgery. He returned and was used as a defensive replacement for second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.

"We're sort of up in the air on this thing," Torre said. "We'll wait as long as we can, until Luis lets us know if he'll be available."

In another roster move, the Yankees activated pitcher Jason Grimsley and cut pitcher Hideki Irabu.

Tossing Knoblauch some aid

Torre talked to Knoblauch about the second baseman's throwing problems after seeing a replay of him watching the ball as it left his hand. "He probably wasn't realizing he was doing it because he knows it's not the right thing to do," Torre said.

Knoblauch, who committed 26 errors during the regular season and two more in the playoffs, has lost so much confidence in his ability to make accurate throws that he's began lobbing the ball with a motion similar to someone heaving a shot put.

"Even though he doesn't buy into it, I think there's a little something going on in the shoulder," Torre said. "Not that he can't play, but I think it's not as comfortable as everybody thinks it is."

Getting no answer

When Torre took the manager's job in New York, he was warned about owner George Steinbrenner's impatience. Torre was asked what he would do if the owner began calling the dugout.

"When he does that, then we'll figure it out," Torre said.

"We have created a mutual respect for each other. I think it's taken George a little time to get to know me and where he trusts me. Basically, George is very demanding. And I'm also demanding of myself. So maybe we're both thinking along the same lines.

" Winning the '96 World Series, I'm sure, went a long way toward that relationship. But he's been very supportive."

While Torre was being treated for prostate cancer this spring, Steinbrenner would meet him at the hospital and offer his support. "We have this closeness right now," Torre said, "and I enjoy it."

Designated decisions

Cox is planning to use Jose Hernandez as his designated hitter against left-hander Andy Pettitte in Game 3, then switch to either Ozzie Guillen or Keith Lockhart against a right-hander.

Guillen's single off Armando Benitez in the 10th inning allowed the Braves to tie the Mets in Game 6 of the NLCS. Hernandez, who was replaced at shortstop by Walt Weiss in the series, had given the Braves a 7-3 lead in the sixth with a two-run single.

Glavine reminisces

Atlanta's Game 1 starter, Tom Glavine, tried to stand tall during the down times in the late 1980s, before the Braves became a regular visitor to the postseason this decade.

Did he ever imagine back then that Atlanta would eventually reap such rewards, including five trips to the World Series in the '90s?

"I wouldn't have believed it," he said. "If somebody had told us this in the late '80s, we probably would have had you committed or have you take a urine test," Glavine said.

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