For La Russa, delay isn't first

He recalls '89 quake

Weaver moved up

Notebook

October 27, 2006|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wasn't really bothered by the postponement of Game 4 of the World Series on Wednesday. He said yesterday that he'd be able to deal with it if inclement weather - either here or in Detroit - causes more interruptions of the Fall Classic.

The accepting attitude from such an intense manager comes partially from experience. La Russa was manager of the Oakland Athletics in 1989 when their World Series with the San Francisco Giants was postponed for 10 days because of an earthquake before Game 3 on Oct. 17.

It was a strange balance of baseball and tragedy.

"We were playing as good as we could play, pitching as good as we could pitch and [then] you have to wait," La Russa said. "But looming over it all is people were killed, loss of property, injuries."

It was the longest waiting period between games in World Series history. When the series resumed, La Russa said he remembered some opposition.

"There were some attempts to make us feel guilty for wanting to continue it," La Russa said, "but I looked around and everybody else, every other form of entertainment [continued]."

La Russa's A's team, which featured stars such as Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Rickey Henderson and Dennis Eckersley, were ahead 2-0 before the earthquake. After the layoff they won the next two for a four-game sweep - giving La Russa his only World Series championship in four chances before this season.

That 1989 team, La Russa said, was like his current Cardinals - a talented group that had very few members with previous World Series rings.

"This was their chance," La Russa said. "On a personal side, we were careful not to celebrate. We didn't have a parade. We didn't have champagne, stuff like that."

Weaver to go tonight

La Russa also confirmed the rather obvious: Veteran Jeff Weaver, the Game 2 loser, and not rookie Anthony Reyes, the Game 1 winner, will start Game 5 tonight.

La Russa said Game 5 - assuming weather doesn't postpone it tonight - would allow Weaver to pitch on normal rest. Reyes likely would be in the bullpen if needed.

La Russa wouldn't show his hand for games 6 or 7 - if they are necessary - though it is likely that ace Chris Carpenter would pitch Game 6.

Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the weather postponement caused no changes to his projected rotation, meaning rookie Justin Verlander is expected to start Game 5 tonight, with Kenny Rogers pitching Game 6 and Nate Robertson Game 7.

Mr. Cinderella

Perhaps the player with the best story in the World Series is St. Louis reserve outfielder John Rodriguez, an undrafted free agent who spent eight seasons in the minors.

Rodriguez said he "grew up in the projects in New York City" and attended a tryout at Yankee Stadium when he was 18 only because "my uncle knew a cop who knew the scout who was holding the tryout."

Rodriguez said there were "like 5,200 kids" there, but he stood out by hitting three upper-deck homers during batting practice. That scout later came to a Bronx summer league game and then signed Rodriguez. Now he's in the World Series.

"It's sort of like a male Cinderella story," he said.

Around the horn

Nikko Smith, former American Idol contestant and son of Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, sang the national anthem last night. ... Only five World Series in 102 years have had multiple postponements: 1903, 1911, 1962, 1975 and 1989. Rain was the primary cause, though cold postponed Game 7 in 1903 and the 1989 Series was interrupted by the earthquake. The last time rain wasn't the cause of a weather-related World Series postponement was in 1979, when Game 1 between the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates was postponed because of snow at Memorial Stadium.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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