Torre holds meeting, will shuffle lineup

Manager seeking answers after Yankees' weak start

October 02, 2003|By Mark Herrmann | Mark Herrmann,NEWSDAY

NEW YORK - Every game in the playoffs is a brand-new season, New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said yesterday as he tried to make Tuesday's Game 1 loss to Minnesota seem like it happened years ago. He held a rally-the-troops team meeting, then promised he will shuffle his lineup tonight.

"You can't carry baggage from yesterday into tomorrow," he said as the team took batting practice during a workout at Yankee Stadium.

He would not share anything from the meeting, and he offered no hint on what the batting order will look like in Game 2 of the Division Series tonight except to say, "It will be different."

The bottom line is that the Yankees are trying to do something - anything - that will make the game different from their shoddy, punchless 3-1 loss to the Twins.

The Yankees realize they have to make things happen, the way Minnesota did in running the bases and pushing the Yankees into mistakes.

They recognized that their aura and their history of overcoming playoff deficits are not going to be enough. On the eve of their next one-game season, they declined to look backward.

"You have to keep things in perspective. Things aren't going to come as easily as they came to the team in '98," said Derek Jeter, the captain who spoke at yesterday's clubhouse meeting and exhorted his teammates to "concentrate."

General manager Brian Cashman put it this way: "We're very prideful of our past and everything we've accomplished. But, today, that's not going to get us anywhere. No one is relying on our past success to help us here and now. The only thing that's going to do that is results; tapping the potential that we have and getting the job done."

Given the fact this is no time to have fielders switch positions (to improve on Tuesday's poor defense), the changes will have to start with a new batting order.

The only likely new face will be left-handed-hitting right fielder Karim Garcia for Juan Rivera against right-hander Brad Radke. The rest of the changes will be a matter of putting the same pegs in different holes.

"Everybody in my lineup can hit just about anywhere in my lineup," Torre said.

The trick is getting someone to hit with runners in scoring position. The club went 1-for-10 in that regard Tuesday, which makes the Yankees hopeful that a shuffle will put the right people up at the right times.

The first step probably will be moving Nick Johnson down in the order from the No. 2 spot. Johnson went 0-for-4 Tuesday and three times made an inning-ending out with a runner on third.

Judging from moves Torre has made in the past, Bernie Williams - booed for a rough day in the field Tuesday - could bat second.

Slumping Jason Giambi, who was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Tuesday, might be allowed to play first base rather than serve as designated hitter because his offense is better when he plays the field. A long shot might have him batting someplace other than fourth.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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