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Game 1 Is Rookie Showcase

October 21, 2006|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — Six days later, Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland divulged his World Series rotation, announcing rookie right-hander Justin Verlander will start Game 1 tonight at Comerica Park. Another rookie, Anthony Reyes, a right-hander from USC, will start for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Tigers' rotation -- Verlander, followed by left-handers Kenny Rogers and Nate Robertson, then right-hander Jeremy Bonderman -- was set up specifically to give Rogers the best chance for two starts at home.

Rogers was 7-3 with a 3.26 earned-run average in 17 home starts in the regular season, and won twice in two playoff starts at home against the New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. He did not give up a run in either, over 15 innings.

"He just got on a mission in this playoff," Leyland said of Rogers. "It's been unbelievable up to this point."

Rogers would start Game 6, if the Series goes that far.

Leyland said he would have set his rotation differently had the New York Mets advanced rather than the Cardinals, though both teams have been vulnerable against left-handers. Verlander said he would have started Game 3 against the Mets.

The Cardinals, who went seven games against the Mets and therefore were unable to set their rotation, will follow Reyes with right-handers Jeff Weaver in Game 2, Chris Carpenter in Game 3 and Jeff Suppan in Game 4.


Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said he had not chosen his designated hitter for Game 1, though the American League rules should alleviate his daily ponderings on how to get all of his bats in the lineup. In the course of the playoffs, Preston Wilson, Juan Encarnacion, Scott Rolen and Scott Spiezio were benched at various times.

La Russa could use all four. Or, as he said Friday, he could find some at-bats for So Taguchi, who is four for four with two home runs in the postseason.

"Like I told So in the outfield, I had a call from the Emperor," La Russa said, smiling. "I promised the Emperor he would get a starting assignment sooner rather than later."

Chris Duncan, who hits right-handers well, also will be considered.


As the party wound down in the visiting clubhouse Thursday night at Shea Stadium, players gathered in small groups to have their photos taken with the National League trophy. Starting pitchers posed together. Relievers only. Infielders. Outfielders.

MVP Suppan had a request.

"Valley! Valley!" he shouted.

So, Suppan and Weaver, San Fernando Valley/Simi Valley-bred, stood arm-in-arm, soaked in champagne, trophy held aloft.


Given another difficult playoff series, Rolen was in an especially good mood. His at-bats had gotten better as the NL Championship Series went on. He hit the home run that wasn't (Endy Chavez caught it) in the sixth inning, then worked a two-strike count to full before singling in the ninth inning ahead of Yadier Molina, who homered.

"I need to have good at-bats every time," he said. "I'm regaining some confidence."

Wryly, Rolen also said he'd discovered a source of motivation going into the World Series.

Noting Ed Spiezio, Scott's father, played for the Cardinals team that lost to the Tigers in the 1968 Series, he said, laughing, "So we get to avenge Ed Spiezio's loss in 1968."

The Tigers won in seven games, but it wasn't Ed Spiezio's fault. He batted 1.000 in the series, singling in his only at-bat.


One more from Rolen: Channeling the movie "Bull Durham" while explaining his error in the sixth inning of Game 7, the ball he fielded and flung into the first row of seats behind first baseman Albert Pujols: "It didn't come out very good, I'll tell you that. I hit the bull."


Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, who tore his left calf muscle in Game 1 of the ALCS and did not play the rest of the series, was expected to be the designated hitter tonight.... Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, who pitched only once in the ALCS because of a sore wrist, is expected to be available.


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