At Yankee Stadium, defense never rests

ON THE AL EAST

September 15, 2002|By Joe Christensen

No wonder Joe Torre feels so safe at Yankee Stadium, even when the nation's security alert is at "Code Orange."

The New York Police Department was out en force again Wednesday night as the Orioles played the Yankees on the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

But the security presence was nowhere near as tight as it was for Game 3 of last year's World Series, when President Bush boldly threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

With Bush at the stadium, the Secret Service was there to protect him with agents everywhere, some visible with their suits and earpieces, some in disguise.

Last week, The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported that there were actually seven umpires on the field before that first pitch, instead of the usual six for a postseason game. Umpire 007 slipped away once Bush left the field so quietly shortstop Derek Jeter never noticed.

"There were really seven?" Jeter said. "Man, that's pretty good. I never knew."

Torre said he learned about the extra umpire during a customary meeting in the umpires' room before the game with Arizona manager Bob Brenly and commissioner Bud Selig.

"I saw the six umps, and a seventh guy who wasn't dressed yet," Torre told The Record. "That's when they told me the Secret Service would be on the field."

Torre, however, did not know that an agent was actually in his clubhouse, too, dressed as an equipment manager. Apparently, Bush wanted to warm up his arm before throwing the first pitch and made a few practice throws near the clubhouse with the extra agent securing the area.

On Wednesday, before his team played the Orioles, Torre was asked if he had any concerns about being at Yankee Stadium with all the warnings of another possible attack.

"No," Torre said. "I didn't last year, and I'm very confident in the security we have in the city. You can't be afraid to do the things we're doing. If that happens then we're sort of giving in to what this whole thing is all about I guess."

Devil Rays sign Upton

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays finally signed their No. 1 draft pick, B.J. Upton, last week, and it took a five-year, $4.5 million contract, with $300,000 up front.

Upton, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, had a scholarship offer from Florida State and also considered attending a junior college, which is what happened with the Orioles' top pick, Adam Loewen.

"I've been waiting to play," said Upton, a shortstop out of Chesapeake, Va. "It was important to get me into [instructional league] to find out a couple of things. We got it done."

The Orioles were willing to give Loewen, the No. 4 overall pick, $2.5 million, but he was looking for closer to $4 million and chose to attend Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla. Loewen still can sign with the Orioles, but not until a short window right before next year's draft.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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