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Neagle's Not Passive Now


NEW YORK — Yankee pitcher Denny Neagle took offense to media reports that characterized him as "passive" in his Game 5 start against Seattle in the American League championship series and raised questions about Manager Joe Torre's motivation for possibly pulling him from the World Series rotation.

"If he wants a better matchup with [David] Cone, I have no problem with that," said Neagle, who went 0-2 in two ALCS starts. "But if it's because I didn't show what I needed to in the ALCS, that's bull."

Torre appears to be leaning toward Cone for Game 4 because the veteran right-hander might be more suited to the predominantly right-handed hitting Mets, and he has a solid track record in the World Series, where he is 2-0 with a 2.15 earned-run average in five starts.

Though Cone had an awful season, going 4-14 with a 6.91 ERA, and was slowed by a dislocated left shoulder in September, Torre was encouraged by Cone's scoreless relief inning against the Mariners in Game 5 last Sunday.

"We think of going to Shea Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5, Cone has done that before, and that would carry some weight," Torre said of Cone, a former Met. "He rises to the occasion, and sometimes his mind rules his body."

Torre acknowledged he thought Neagle might have "nibbled" too much in his last start, when he walked three batters in the first inning and four in 4 1/3 innings. Neagle was pulled in the fifth inning and suffered the loss.

"I'm getting sick and tired of reading how I was passive in my last start," said Neagle, who will be a free agent this winter. "It's really disappointing. I did my job as well as anyone could. I've had three runs of support in two games combined. I can't control not pitching past the fifth inning."


Met Manager Bobby Valentine will take advantage of American League rules by starting catcher Mike Piazza at designated hitter tonight and using Todd Pratt, who is better defensively, behind the plate. The Giants and Cardinals were five for five in stolen-base attempts against Piazza in the playoffs, but Valentine said defense did not motivate his decision.

"I think Todd is our next-best right-handed hitter, and the Yankees have a left-handed pitcher going [tonight]," Valentine said. "Todd's been a big part of our team for more than two years. He's as deserving as any person who's ever put on a uniform to play in a World Series game, and this might be his only opportunity."


With many postseason games lasting more than four hours and almost all more than three, Commissioner Bud Selig said it's a problem that needs to be addressed again. The rhetoric, of course, seemed familiar.

"We put some effort into it and for two or three years began to make some progress, but we've regressed again," he said. "I've talked to Sandy Alderson and Frank Robinson and we're going to meet again in November because it's unacceptable and inexcusable. If you just enforced the existing rules it would change a lot of it.

"I've been a fan for more than 50 years and can remember games being played in an hour and 50 minutes, two hours and 10. Maybe that's unreasonable with TV, but I'm confident that the games being played in three hours could be played in 2 1/2, 2:40.

"There's no excuse for not adhering to the rules, but we see pitchers dawdling, hitters stepping in and out of the batter's box. We have to start in spring training and go from there. It's in everyone's best interest."


Selig said he is in frequent contact with Dodger chairman Bob Daly and President Bob Graziano in an effort to help the organization with any of the problems that have beset it.

"If baseball is going to continue our remarkable renaissance, the Dodgers are an important part of the equation," Selig said. "No franchise, other than the Yankees, has the history and tradition. It's in baseball's best interest for the Dodgers to be competitive and back in good position. I know Bob Daly is doing everything in his power to lift the franchise back where it should be and I'm sure he'll be successful."


Yankee infielder Jose Vizcaino and Darryl Strawberry are the only players to have played for the four teams that were based in New York at one point: the Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Mets and Yankees.

"Really?" Vizcaino said. "I guess that's what happens when you get traded a lot."


A victory tonight would give the Yankees a 13-game World Series winning streak, which would top the previous record of 12 by the Yankees in 1927, '28 and '32. . . . Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game and no-hitter in World Series history for the Yankees in 1956, the last year of a Subway Series, will toss out the ceremonial first pitch tonight to Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. . . . Tom Lasorda and the gold-medal Olympic baseball team will be honored Tuesday before Game 3 at Shea Stadium.


Game 1: Tonight, Yankee Stadium, 5.

Game 2: Sunday, Yankee Stadium, 5 p.m.

Game 3: Tuesday, Shea Stadium, 5:15 p.m.

Game 4: Wednesday, Shea Stadium, 5:15 p.m.

Game 5: Thursday, Shea Stadium, 5:15 p.m.*

Game 6: Oct. 28, Yankee Stadium, 5 p.m.*

Game 7: Oct. 29, Yankee Stadium, 5 p.m.*

TV--Ch. 11; *--if necessary (All times Pacific)

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