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Notes: Sierra to be in Game 3 lineup10/15/2004 9:05 PM ET
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Ruben Sierra will be back in the lineup for Game 3 against the Red Sox on Saturday, as manager Joe Torre will move Kenny Lofton back to the bench in favor of the switch-hitting designated hitter.
Sierra started three of the first four games in the Division Series against the Twins, going just 2-for-12 (.167) in the series. But one of Sierra's two hits was the game-tying, three-run homer in the clincher against Minnesota, helping New York advance to the ALCS.
Torre opted to use Lofton in each of the first two games of the ALCS, preferring to take advantage of his speed against Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. Lofton went 2-for-7 in the two games, including a home run against Tim Wakefield in Game 1.
Neither hitter has a real history with Game 3 starter Bronson Arroyo, as Lofton is 1-for-2 and Sierra is 0-for-3 against the right-hander. But with the series shifting to the cozy confines of Fenway Park, Torre decided that Sierra's powerful bat may serve the Yankees better as they try to close out the Red Sox.
"There's not a lot with Arroyo," Torre said, "but Ruben in this ballpark, he's a little more of a threat here."
Sierra will bat seventh for New York, followed by John Olerud and Miguel Cairo at the bottom of the lineup. Sierra's starting role means that Tony Clark is the best power option off the bench, should Torre decide to pinch-hit for Cairo late in the game.
"It's a plus and minus," Torre said of starting Sierra, "because it takes him away from me if we have a late-game situation where we want to do something."
Jack and Joe? According to several reports, Joe Girardi is on a short list to become Jack McKeon's bench coach with the Marlins. Girardi has spent this season as a television analyst for the YES Network, as well as working as a catching consultant within the Yankees' organization.
"I think he could do it," said Torre. "Joe is very articulate, very into a lot of the intricacies of the game.
Girardi played from 1989 to 2003, spending 1996-99 with the Yankees. He also played for the Cubs, Rockies and Cardinals in his career, making the All-Star team for Chicago in 2000. Torre believes that the biggest decision for Girardi will be whether to jump back into the grind of a baseball life.
"It's going to be a commitment for him," Torre said. "When you're used to spending a lot of time with your family, all of a sudden that's not going to be the case. He could do the job very well."
Deja vu? Torre had a tough decision to make when he had a League Championship Series rainout 22 years ago, when his Atlanta Braves had their NLCS opener against the St. Louis Cardinals postponed after playing into the fourth inning.
Torre's Braves led the Cards, 1-0, when the game was called, but Torre didn't have an argument to make about the cancellation of the contest.
"We had a meeting before the game, and they told us if it started raining, they were going to stop the game," Torre recalled. "We had a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, but I didn't argue that it shouldn't have stopped because they told us about it. During the regular season, it would have been different, because we would have tried to get five innings in to make it an official game."
Knuckleballer Phil Niekro started the first Game 1 in that series, and after the rainout, Torre had the option of bringing him back for the rescheduled game. Instead, he gave the ball to Pascual Perez, and Atlanta lost the game, 7-0.
"I didn't want to, but I probably should have," said Torre of bringing back Niekro. "A knuckleball pitcher throwing four innings, that's like shaking somebody's hand. In my mind, I was trying to do the right thing and not send him back out there. He wanted to. He was lobbying for it."
The Cardinals ended up sweeping the Braves, eventually winning the World Series in seven games.
Welcome to Boston: As manager of the Yankees, Torre knows that he may not be the most well-liked person in New England. But for the most part, he says that the fans in town have treated him very well when he's here.
"Aside from the youngsters that flip the finger on the way to the ballpark and scream [expletives], there have been more 'Good luck' today than anything else," Torre said. "It's always been that way. They're excited about the rivalry and they enjoy having us here. I love this town."
Another Mr. October? Reggie Jackson gave Alex Rodriguez the nicest compliment he could possibly give a player on Friday, comparing A-Rod to himself.
Jackson dined with Rodriguez and his family on Friday afternoon, as the two men talked about playing in the postseason in pinstripes. Having watched A-Rod shine in New York's first six playoff games this month, Jackson, who earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his postseason heroics, has been impressed with what he has seen.
"He has a chance to be a great October player," Jackson said. "As good, or better than, I was. He has more ability. But it's about more than that, it's getting this [his head] and this [his heart] working together better."
Rodriguez is batting .393 (11-for-28) in the playoffs, coming up with a couple of big hits against Minnesota and Boston.
"As great as he is," Jackson said, "he still has to grow."
Homegrown: Tanyon Sturtze, who grew up just 45 miles outside of Boston in Worcester, Mass., is enjoying his first postseason experience, but playing ALCS games at Fenway Park has proven to be extra work for the right-hander.
"It's been awesome, but I still wish it was a West Coast team and not Boston," Sturtze said. "It's been a headache. My phone just won't stop ringing."
Sturtze has not pitched particularly well in the postseason, allowing one earned run in each of his three outings. In three innings, Sturtze has posted a 9.00 ERA, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out five.
"I didn't feel too good in Minnesota, but I felt great the other night against Boston," he said.
Sturtze's parents didn't make it down to New York for the first two games of the ALCS, but they'll be watching their son from the stands at Fenway Park. Sturtze's father, Ken, a lifelong Sox fan, bought his first Yankees hat last week, but Tanyon isn't sure whether he'll be sporting it at the ballpark.
"We'll see," Sturtze said. "I don't think he'll have it on. I doubt he's that brave, yet."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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