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Notes: Yanks' rotation clearer
10/11/2004 8:00 PM ET
NEW YORK -- Jon Lieber and Kevin Brown will follow Mike Mussina in the Yankees' ALCS rotation, though the Game 4 starter has yet to be decided.

Lieber will take the ball in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, while Brown gets the nod for Game 3, when the series shifts to Fenway Park. Game 4 will feature either Orlando Hernandez or Javier Vazquez, depending on how Hernandez's tired right shoulder feels over the next few days.

Hernandez threw a bullpen session on Monday, throwing more than 60 pitches. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre was pleased with the session, but he indicated that he and manager Joe Torre wouldn't have a decision until at least Thursday.

"We'll get a feeling tomorrow on how he feels," Stottlemyre said. "He felt much better. He was tentative when he started, but compared to some of his warmups before some of his games, it was very much the same."

"The most important thing is that I feel better. I think I will pitch in this series, but I'm not sure about anything," Hernandez said. "I'll wait for tomorrow. After tomorrow, I'll wait for the decision of Joe and Mel."

Hernandez appears to be the preference, with Vazquez serving as the backup plan. Hernandez hasn't pitched since October 1 in Toronto, when he lasted just three innings against the Blue Jays. He said he couldn't remember the last time he felt as good as he did on Monday.

"I feel better," Hernandez said. "I'm optimistic that I'll be able to pitch."

Vazquez allowed five runs in five innings of Game 4 against the Twins on Saturday, including a three-run fifth inning that ended his day.

Both Brown and Lieber have dealt with back problems over the past week, but neither pitcher believed that anything would stop them from taking the mound this week against Boston.

   Tom Gordon  /   P
Born: 11/18/67
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Flash ready: Tom Gordon is ready to step into Mariano Rivera's closer role if Rivera isn't back from Panama for Game 1, but he will be doing it with only one good eye.

Gordon, who was hit in the left eye by a cork during New York's champagne celebration on Saturday night, said that he still sees some "black dots" and is experiencing some blurriness in the eye. Gordon played catch on Monday, but he said that he had trouble seeing the ball when it was being thrown back to him.

"I'm a little blurry still," said Gordon, who visited an eye doctor on Monday morning.

Gordon was a key piece of the Yankees' bullpen this season, setting up for Rivera all year. Gordon, who has closed for several teams -- and recorded a 46-save season with the Red Sox in 1998 -- has 114 saves in his career.

"I've closed before, so I'll prepare like I have in the past," Gordon said. "I pitched two innings the other night. Hopefully I won't have to, but whatever it takes for this team to get a win, that's what I'll have to do."

"Whether he's closing or setting up," Torre said, "he knows how important it is."

   Kenny Lofton  /   CF
Born: 05/31/67
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

For starters: Torre unveiled his Game 1 lineup, which features Kenny Lofton as the starting designated hitter and ALDS hero Ruben Sierra on the bench.

Torre cited Lofton's numbers against Boston starter Curt Schilling as the primary reason, as Lofton has seven hits in 23 at-bats, a .304 average. Sierra is just 2-for-7 against Schilling.

"I just see the ball, hit the ball," said Lofton on his approach to facing Schilling. "I try to keep it simple."

The Yankees' lineup for Game 1 will be Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, John Olerud, Miguel Cairo and Lofton.

Lofton played in just one of the four ALDS games, going 1-for-4 with an RBI in Game 3 against the Twins. Now he's looking forward to the opportunity to help set the tone against the Red Sox.

"That's what I want to try to do," said Lofton. "I know what the League Championship Series is all about, so I'm going to go out and just try to have some fun, live in the moment."

School ties: Alex Rodriguez will see one very familiar face across the field when the ALCS gets underway in Doug Mientkiewicz, who played one year of high school ball with A-Rod at Miami's Westminster Christian.

"This is a little more exciting than when I played him in regular-season games in Minnesota," A-Rod said. "The one good thing is that, no matter what, one Westminster Warrior will go to the World Series this year."

Small steps for Sturtze: When Tanyon Sturtze was traded to the Yankees, his father, Ken, had a tough decision to make. As a life-long Red Sox fan, the elder Sturtze had to choose between his favorite team and their hated rivals, now his son's employer.

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
Game 1 at New York         NYY 10, BOS 7
Game 2 at New York         NYY 3, BOS 1
Game 3 at Boston Fri. Oct. 15 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 4 at Boston Sat. Oct. 16 7:30 p.m. FOX  
Game 5* at Boston Sun. Oct. 17 7:30 p.m. FOX  
Game 6* at New York Tue. Oct. 19 8:00 p.m. FOX  
Game 7* at New York Wed. Oct. 20 8:00 p.m. FOX  
 * If necessary

Although he rooted for his son to do well, Ken never stopped being a Sox fan. But with the two teams fighting for the right to go to the World Series this week, Sturtze's dad finally did something he never thought he would: He bought a Yankees cap.

Sturtze, who was raised in Worcester, Mass., said that playing the Red Sox has led to several phone calls in the past two days -- and not to wish him good luck.

"Today's the last day my phone's on," Sturtze said. "It's off for the rest of the series -- too many tickets already. I just told the traveling secretary that I wished Oakland or Anaheim had won. It wouldn't be such a pain."

Quotable: "Well, Mussina has like 20 different pitches. So, he throws all of them for strikes. Out of 20, you have to pick one. If he throws it, you don't want to miss it. If you miss it, you're going to have to deal with the other 19. Oh man, you see Posada sometimes taking his glove off to give him some signs. He doesn't have enough fingers on one hand. But that's why he's so good, not too many pitchers can throw 20 different pitchers and he can." -- Red Sox DH David Ortiz, on Mussina

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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