Dellucci now glad O's let him go in draft

Justice is right choice by Yankees for Game 1

Notebook

World Series

October 27, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX -- When the Arizona Diamondbacks chose David Dellucci in their expansion draft, he assumed it would become the worst move of his career. He had no idea how well it would turn out.

Neither did the Orioles.

Dellucci was promoted from Double-A Bowie in 1997 and appeared in 17 games, batting .222 with one homer. He won over fans at Camden Yards with some acrobatic catches in right field and a youthful exuberance often missing from a club that went wire-to-wire in winning the American League East title.

The Orioles left Dellucci exposed in the draft, along with reliever Esteban Yan, taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with their first pick. Dellucci went to the Diamondbacks and what he figured would be oblivion.

"When it first happened, I wasn't real pleased," he said. "I loved being an Oriole and thought I had a future there as a young guy, but that wasn't the route the team was taking. It wasn't until I got to spring training ... that I realized this was an organization heading in the right direction. They were committed to winning and first-class in everything they did. I love it. I don't want to leave this place."

The Orioles have finished fourth in their division the past four seasons, but Arizona has made the playoffs twice and became the youngest expansion team to reach the World Series. Dellucci has been a valuable late-inning contributor for the Diamondbacks this year, batting .321 (18-for-56) as a pinch-hitter. Five of his 10 home runs have come off the bench.

"I've been spoiled," he said. "In '97, with the short time I was with the Orioles, we clinched the playoffs in Toronto. In '99 here, we clinch the playoffs, and once again in 2001. And this time we make it all the way to the World Series. In a short career I've experienced a whole lot of postseason parties."

Justice prevails in right

David Justice will start in right field over Paul O'Neill in Game 1, with Yankees manager Joe Torre choosing statistics over sentiment.

Justice is 10-for-28 with four home runs lifetime against Arizona starter Curt Schilling, another former Orioles farmhand. O'Neill is 4-for-19 with no home runs.

"To me it's a coin flip, and the thing that really swayed me were the matchups," Torre said.

"I don't try to guess along with [Torre's] decisions," O'Neill said. "It's not like it hasn't happened before. But to say I'm not disappointed, I would be lying. The only thing that came as a surprise is, it's against a right-hander, and that's never really happened before."

O'Neill also will begin Game 2 on the bench rather than face Arizona left-hander Randy Johnson. Torre indicated that O'Neill will start Game 3 in New York.

Yanks, sentimental favorite?

Schilling is offended by the notion that his club is competing against "the world" after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center made the Yankees a sentimental favorite.

"To say that would be putting us against what's gone on, and I think that's unfair and untrue," he said. "The World Series in New York City is going to be fantastic, for what it's worth. But you're not going to erase memories and erase the anguish and pain that's gone on the last five or six weeks."

Schilling plans to visit Ground Zero on Monday after the Diamondbacks work out at Yankee Stadium. "It's one of the things I'm looking forward to most, meeting and thanking the true heroes that work in this country on a daily basis," he said.

The lineups

Starting lineups for tonight's Game 1:

Yankees

Chuck Knoblauch........ Left field

Derek Jeter.................... Shortstop

David Justice.................Right field

Bernie Williams............ Center field

Tino Martinez................ First base

Jorge Posada................Catcher

Alfonso Soriano........... 2nd base

Scott Brosius.................Third base

Mike Mussina................. Pitcher

Diamondbacks

Tony Womack...............Shortstop

Craig Counsell............. 2nd base

Luis Gonzalez.............. Left field

Reggie Sanders.......... Right field

Steve Finley..................Center field

Matt Williams.................Third base

Mark Grace....................First base

Damian Miller............... Catcher

Curt Schilling................Pitcher

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