Moved-up Millwood misses N.Y. again

Yankee Stadium dream put on hold by Glavine bug

Sojo leaves Yanks one short

World Series Notebook

October 24, 1999|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- It's been a dream of Kevin Millwood's to pitch in Yankee Stadium. His turn didn't come up when the Braves visited New York during the regular season, but he was scheduled to start Game 3 of the World Series on Tuesday.

"What better time to pitch there than the World Series," he said.

Manager Bobby Cox had a better idea, elevating Millwood to Game 2 as part of the rotation adjustments caused by Tom Glavine's illness.

"I was kind of looking forward to pitching there," Millwood said.

Would there be any difference between starting at home or in an American League ballpark, where the designated hitter is used? "Emotionally, it's the same," he said. "Physically, the only difference is I get to hit. I don't know if that's a positive for us or not."

Millwood was so sure he wouldn't be pitching in Atlanta that he almost sold his allotment of tickets to a teammate. "I was in the process," he said. "I got them back. But now I need to buy a few more, so if anybody's got any, let me know."

This is the first World Series for Millwood. He was playing winter ball in Australia when these teams met in the 1996 Fall Classic.

"I watched most of Game 6 in a casino," he said. "It was about 6 or 7 in the morning, but I couldn't quite stay awake for the whole game."

Millwood said he wasn't concerned that other players in the Braves' clubhouse would catch Glavine's flu bug. "I haven't seen Tommy today," he said, "and I don't think he's going to be coming around here kissing anybody."

Maddux brings little change

Yankees manager Joe Torre didn't make many adjustments to his lineup after learning right-hander Greg Maddux would start in place of Glavine.

The only change came in left field, where Ricky Ledee was inserted in place of Chad Curtis and went 0-for-3.

Torre discovered that Maddux was pitching after receiving the Braves' lineup card from a clubhouse attendant. "You understand these things happen. Just because it's the World Series doesn't mean people aren't allowed to get sick," Torre said.

Sojo due back for Game 3

The Yankees are forced to go with 24 players for the first two games because Luis Sojo returned to Venezuela yesterday to make arrangements for his father's funeral.

"Luis assured me he would be able to be back by Game 3," Torre said.

Clay Bellinger is on the roster mostly as a pinch runner, but Torre is reluctant to use him in that capacity now because he's needed as a backup infielder.

The Yankees had requested an extra player until Sojo rejoined the club, but commissioner Bud Selig wouldn't allow it. Rosters had to be set by noon yesterday.

"I didn't anticipate that was going to be anything other than what Bud Selig decided to do," Torre said. "I think it's probably the right decision only because you open up a can of worms. What's important? What isn't important?

"I remember back in '96 when we were rained out of the first game of the World Series and lost our workout day here in Atlanta. I had tried to lobby for getting the off day just so we could work out in a new ballpark. He said no to that. So I knew that we weren't going to be able to let this fly."

Too good for his own good

When the Yankees set up their rotation next season, there's a chance Ramiro Mendoza could be included on the staff. He made six starts among his 53 appearances during the regular season, and has shown he's able to handle the role. But right now, Torre considers Mendoza too valuable coming out of the bullpen to make any changes.

Mendoza has only himself to blame if he's denied the chance to start. He was a huge factor in the Yankees getting past Boston in the American League Championship Series, escaping jams in both appearances covering 2 1/3 innings. Each time, he left the bases loaded. Each time, he demonstrated his value coming out of the bullpen and reinforced his standing as one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball.

"We brought him in with no room to breathe and he did the job we asked, and probably a little bit more," Torre said.

"As far as his future, I think right now he realizes that he's of great value to us in the bullpen. I really am reluctant to give him up in his role right now."

The Yankees are reluctant to give him up, period.

"We could have traded him any time," Torre said. "Every time we talk about a deal, Mendoza is the first name that is mentioned."

Irabu explanation

Torre said he didn't make the decision to replace Hideki Irabu on the roster with Jason Grimsley until Friday.

"On the plus side, Irabu pitched very well against the Braves," Torre said. "I know it was only spring training, but he pitched four or five innings against them."

There was a negative side to Irabu -- the seven earned runs and 13 hits he allowed in Boston in Game 3 of the ALCS. Irabu was left in the game for 4 2/3 innings of a 13-1 loss to spare the Yankees' bullpen.

"You can't do that in a National League ballpark. You need to pinch hit, and you're probably going to need that pitcher more than one time," Torre said.

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