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Knoblauch is Torre's kind of man

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Posted: Friday October 15, 1999 04:07 PM

 

By Jamie MacDonald, CNN/SI

NEW YORK -- He runs around looking more kid than adult, his hat pulled down, his eyes forced to pan up at nearly everyone. Even his jogging stride -- especially when he's shoulder-to-torso with 6'5" Darryl Strawberry -- makes Chuck Knoblauch look like a younger brother who's happy to be carrying his older brother's bat to practice.

But as far as Yankees manager Joe Torre is concerned, Knoblauch is the man, flaws and all. Built like a slap hitter, Knoblauch chooses to uppercut pitches that often end up as easy catches in the outfield. Acquired from the Twins as much for his glove as his streaky-hot bat, ground balls sent his way can be an adventure. His would-be error in Game 1 was a hot-button topic going into Game 2 (see below).

Still, the diminutive second baseman is Torre's guy.

"I am not going to talk to Chuck Knoblauch," Torre said of Knoblauch's apparent fielding, ah, issues. "That's part of the package. Chuck Knoblauch is, to me, our second baseman ... you take the whole package. I have watched him make tremendous plays and I have watched him make errors. He makes an error, he makes an error. He is my second baseman, so I don't really address it with him or think about it."

Nor should he after Game 2.

Sure Knoblauch sprayed a few customary harmless line drives in Game 2, but, as Torre believes, there is more to the package. Knoblauch took a Ramon Martinez change-up down the leftfield line for a double that scored Ricky Ledee and tied the game at 2-2. Then he stole third. When Paul O'Neill singled to left center, who was trotting home in the form of the winning run?

Knoblauch.

Patient as cobras?

That is how broadcaster Tim McCarver described the Yankees during a replay of Knoblauch's double. Not normally given to honest laughter, the press room did let out a collective giggle at the line. "Patient as cobras? ... Huh?" someone wondered aloud. "What does he know about cobras?"

The brothers' healthy

If you believe Ramon Martinez, Red Sox fans can put to rest any concerns that he isn't feeling better with each start. When asked if he was worried that he wouldn't be strong enough to throw 120-plus pitches, Martinez said, "No, and I even can go farther than that. I feel fine ... I don't feel any kind of pain or tired or anything."

Not 'two' much for Rivera

Though it wasn't necessary in Game 2, Torre will not be shy about pitching Mariano Rivera two innings at a time. The Yankees reliever is just about automatic, and after shutting out Boston in the ninth, has run his scoreless inning streak to 36 2/3 innings. Torre used Rivera for two innings in Game 1.

"I never go out there thinking two innings," Torre said before praising the streak. "I have had a number of good closers ... but he has been as consistent as any closer I have ever seen -- even pitching against me. It has been remarkable. There's nothing fancy about what he does. I don't like to use him for two innings, that is never a goal when we start a ballgame. I haven't seen anything like it and I hope it continues."

Number of the game

13: So much for eerie signs and curses. The Red Sox left 13 runners on base in Game 2.

Blown call haunts BoSox

It won't go away, no matter how badly the Red Sox players would like to seal it in the Game 1 time capsule. Jimy Williams, though, was a little less tight-lipped about umpire Rick Reed's blown call. The Red Sox manager would like to see more communication between umpires.

"Maybe I should slough off the question," Williams said, before doing precisely the opposite a few hours before Game 2.

Williams pointed to a number of close-call incidents from Boston's season and then to the NFL, the NBA and nearly every other sport where officials could confer on a play with the option of reversing a call.

"I look at [umpiring crews], and they are a team, they work together. I don't know a lot about umpiring, but I do know that the closer you are to a play, the tougher it is to see everything. The ball was hit slow so [Reed's] focus was probably on the base ... but he couldn't concentrate on the glove."

Williams added that he was in no way advocating instant replay. "I think the human element of the game is beautiful."

While his teammates were stretching, reporters tried to goad reliever Derek Lowe into complaining.

"I'm not going to say it," Lowe countered -- about a dozen times.

From the weather center

Make no mistake, nearly everyone was cold. With temperatures hovering in the mid-50s and the wind beating that number closer to the 40s, players were no longer the only folks at Yankee Stadium who needed gloves.

In the absence of Isotoners (sorry, Dan Marino), Ricky Ledee, who bounded from the dugout to the batting cage before wincing at his introduction with the gusty winds, spent the next few minutes with his hands in his pants.

Since Flip Spiceland is not on the scene, you'll have to settle for a rumor that the winds -- which whipped through the tri-state area all day long at about 50 m.p.h. -- would die down through the course of the evening. Remember, though, the rain was supposed to hold off last night.

It's so, Joe

Yankees manager Joe Torre decided to use Joe Girardi as David Cone's batterymate, not because of familiarity, but because it is the postseason.

"It is nothing against Jorge [Posada]," Torre said of one of the most jovial Yankees players. "Obviously he is our No. 1 catcher. But it is basically experience. I spoke with Jorge before I put [Girardi] in the lineup today to explain that to him. He was fine with it. It was just a thing that he is not quite there yet experience-wise, and Joey has that experience."


 
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