Move to play Justice backfired for Torre
Updated: Sunday October 28, 2001 12:26 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- The numbers all pointed to Joe Torre starting David Justice in right field for Game 1 of the World Series.
Like everything else for the New York Yankees on Saturday night, it went wrong.
Justice committed a key error in Arizona's four-run third inning and struck out all three times against Curt Schilling as the Diamondbacks won the opener 9-1.
"A lot of my moves worked, but for the other team," Torre said. "You do what you think is right at the time and then live with it."
Torre's logic seemed sound when he made his decision Friday. Justice is 10-for-28 (.357) with four homers in his career against Schilling, compared to O'Neill's .211 average with no homers. But most of those at-bats came years ago.
"I said if he made his pitches that it would be a tough day for me," Justice said. "That's what happened."
Justice's biggest influence came in the field. With a runner on first and one out in the third, Steve Finley hit a drive to the warning track in right-center field. After a long run, Justice got to the ball but it hit off his glove for a two-base error.
"I just missed it," Justice said. "I knew I was close to the wall and I took my eye off it for just a second."
Justice, bothered by a groin injury this season, played only 25 games in the outfield. But Torre said that wasn't an issue on this play.
"Justice has been a good outfielder for us," he said. "He's caught up to a lot of balls and he got to that ball."
If the Yankees needed some real advance scouting on Randy Johnson, they could have asked Damon Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer, the Yankees' director of player personnel, was Johnson's college catcher in 1984-85 when they were at Southern California.
Johnson will start Game 2 for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday night in the World Series.
"He could dominate a game then, just like he can now," Oppenheimer said. "You always had to have a little something extra in your glove when you caught him."
Oppenheimer, 38, lives in Phoenix and handles a variety of scouting jobs for the Yankees. Occasionally, the former teammates run into each around town.
"We'll always stop and talk when we see each other, joke around a bit," Oppenheimer said.
Oppenheimer, who split the catching duties at USC with future NFL linebacker Jack Del Rio, was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers and played a year in Class A.
Oppenheimer stayed with the Padres until being hired as a scout for the Yankees in 1992.
"I wouldn't be able to help with any scouting reports on Randy now, though," he said. "He's changed since I caught him."
Oppenheimer did not see Johnson at Bank One Ballpark before Saturday night's opener.
"I'm sure I'll run into him sometime," he said. "Randy's a friend, a real good guy. I root for him every time he goes out there - except when he pitches against us."
Barry Bonds finally made it to the World Series -- to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, at least.
Bonds, who hit 73 home runs to break Mark McGwire's season record, was honored before the game with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.
Bonds has never won a playoff series in his career, losing three times with Pittsburgh and twice with San Francisco. He has .196 career average in the postseason.
He is eligible for free agency at the end of the World Series and the Giants are unsure if they will be able to retain him. San Francisco has eight other potential free agents, including pitchers Jason Schmidt and Jason Christiansen.
"The goals are no matter what happens with Barry, to re-sign Schmidt and Christiansen," owner Peter Magowan said. "Plan A is to sign Barry. Plan B is what to do if we can't, and that isn't figured out yet."
Bonds skipped a pregame news conference and did not talk to reporters.
Eliminating two financially struggling teams is the buzz of baseball these days.
Amid speculation that Montreal, Florida, Minnesota or Tampa Bay all could be bought out as part a contraction plan, Commissioner Bud Selig said earlier this week that no decisions have been made.
Union chief Don Fehr said he hasn't heard anything from baseball officials about it.
"If and when the clubs come to us with a proposal or want to do something concrete, we'll analyze it and discuss it with our players and go from there," Fehr said. "I haven't heard from the clubs about this."
Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph interviewed for the Minnesota Twins managing job earlier this week but isn't confident in his chances.
Randolph, who has unsuccessfully sought many jobs in recent years, appreciated Twins' GM Terry Ryan's candor in saying that he would probably hire someone from within the organization.
Coaches Paul Molitor, Ron Gardenhire and Scott Ullger have already interviewed for the job.
"He said he'd be in touch with me in the near future," Randolph said.
Around the bases
New York's Derek Jeter went 0-for-3, snapping his 14-game World Series hitting streak. It was tied with Roberto Clemente for the third longest streak ever, trailing Marquis Grissom (15) and Hank Bauer (17). ... The AL has won seven of the last nine titles and three in a row, thanks to the Yankees. The last league to win four straight was the NL from 1979-82. ... Yankees owner George Steinbrenner did not make the trip for the first two games.