Work in Sports
World Series notebook
Pratt to catch, Piazza at DH in Game 1; Vizcaino at 2B
NEW YORK (AP) -- With Mike Piazza starting in front of him, Todd Pratt hasn't gotten many opportunities to play in the postseason.
That's until the designated hitter came into play. New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine decided to start Pratt at catcher in Game 1 of the World Series Saturday night against the New York Yankees.
"I think he's our next best right-handed hitter," Valentine said. "Todd Pratt's been a big part of this team for two years and more."
The move leaves the Mets with no catcher on the bench for Game 1, which could cause a problem late in the game.
"I had an idea it could happen," Pratt said. "I thought I was the low man on the pole only because of the two-catcher factor. I knew it was a possibility, but I thought it was the slimmest of possibilities."
Piazza, for his part, is glad to take a break from the wear and tear of being behind the plate.
"After some of those games catching, you feel like you just took the SATs," Piazza said. "I know I'm going to get my action behind the plate at Shea."
Yankees manager Joe Torre decided to give Jose Vizcaino his first start of the postseason. Vizcaino will play second base instead of Luis Sojo, while Chuck Knoblauch remains at DH.
"He and Sojo are interchangeable for me as far as defensively," Torre said. "What jumped out at me are the numbers he had against Al (Leiter, Game 1 starter)."
Vizcaino is 10-for-19 in his career off Leiter.
The Yankees will make their final roster move Saturday, when they determine whether to cut Jason Grimsley or Randy Choate to make room for Jose Canseco.
As soon as Benny Agbayani saw the morning paper, he knew he had made a mistake.
In a lighthearted appearance on Howard Stern's radio show, Agbayani predicted the Mets would win the World Series in five games. That prediction was on the front page of the New York Post, one of which was left around the Yankees dugout.
"I saw the paper and said, 'Oh, my gosh. Here we go,"' Agbayani said.
"I don't want people to think I'm a bad guy. I'm not trying to disrespect the Yankees. I hope that's not what they think."
Mets manager Bobby Valentine took Agbayani's prediction in stride.
"I asked him which game he thought we were going to lose," Valentine said.
In the first-round playoff series against Oakland, the Yankees took offense when A's third baseman Eric Chavez talked about the New York dynasty in the past tense before Game 5.
The Yankees went out and scored six runs in the first inning and won the series.
"We've been quiet," Yankees Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte said. "We're going to try to do our talking on the field."
Mets reliever Dennis Cook will pitch in the World Series despite a kidney stone that has contributed to a sore back all week.
Cook saw a doctor Thursday and plans to have the stone removed with laser treatment after the World Series.
"I feel better today than yesterday," Cook said. "The only way I wouldn't be on the roster was if I couldn't walk. At least that was my feeling."
The Mets said there was no doubt that Cook would be on the roster, which doesn't need to be submitted until Saturday morning.
"He should be fine," general manager Steve Phillips said. "The doctors seemed to indicate he doesn't have any problems."
Mets reliever Turk Wendell issued a warning to Roger Clemens: Don't hit our batters or your teammates will pay the price.
With Clemens not starting at Shea Stadium where he would have to bat, the Mets won't have an opportunity to get revenge for the Rocket's beaning of Mike Piazza in July.
But Wendell said if another Met gets hit by Clemens, the Yankees won't get of without retaliation.
"If he wants to take the chance of hitting somebody else, he's going to have to face the reality that his team is going to have to pay the piper," Wendell said.
There's no better way to get someone to call you for the first time in years than to have access to Subway Series tickets.
That's what the Mets and Yankees are finding out. Mets general manager Steve Phillips heard from Paul Prince, who was a bat boy when Phillips played for the Mets minor league team in Columbia, S.C., in 1983.
"I was sitting on the bench next to him in 1983," Phillips said. "You could add 50,000 seats and we probably could sell 100,000."
Each player on the Mets gets two tickets paid for by the team and has a chance to buy two more. Getting a game-winning hit would bolster your chances at getting tickets, Phillips said.
All the ticket requests are getting to be a mental and financial strain on the two teams.
"You need the World Series share just to pay the tickets off," Yankees first base coach Lee Mazzilli said.
Bobby Valentine has been called many things as a manager, but probably only he would compare himself to a flower.
"I think a flower comes out of the ground and it changes until it's at its final point," Valentine said. "Then it dies. As we go through life, I think we're supposed to change and change from within. We do things that you learn along the way. So who knows? I've changed."
It wouldn't be a Subway Series if fans didn't take the subway to World Series games between the Mets and Yankees. So the city has taken steps to handle the crowds -- and celebrate the occasion.
The front panel of the lead and last cars on the No. 7 train, serving Shea Stadium, and No. 4 line to Yankee Stadium will be painted in each team's colors, MTA spokesman Tom Kelly said.
The No. 7 train will sport Mets blue and orange and the No. 4 train will be decked in Yankee white and blue. A baseball cap, complete with each team's logo, will be in the middle.
In addition, Kelly said all 10 cars on both lines will have "Subway Series 2000," written on them.
Also, many of the stations on the way to Yankee Stadium have been freshly painted for the occasion.