Arizona in a New York state of mind

D'Backs skipper plays hunch with rotation

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2001

PHOENIX -- Arizona manager Bob Brenly, known for playing hunches and going against the book, is at it again as he prepares to lead the Diamondbacks into the World Series.

Following the team's workout Tuesday night, Brenly told left-hander Brian Anderson that he will start Game 3 next Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

''It's strange how things work,'' said Anderson, who lost his spot in the rotation in August, but twice pitched well out of the bullpen in the postseason.

The decision means right-hander Migeul Batista will go in Game 4, unless the Diamondbacks are in deep trouble and must bring Game 1 starter Curt Schilling back on three days' rest.

Anderson recalled the ups and downs of his season.

''I'm in the rotation and a lot of things were expected, then I didn't perform up to my abilities and get taken out of the rotation.'' he said. ''For a while I wondered if I'm even going to be a part of the postseason roster. Then all of a sudden the manager pulls you aside and says you're starting the first game in the Bronx in the World Series.''

Anderson was 4-9 in the regular season with a 5.20 ERA. He was moved to the bullpen on Aug. 24 after going 0-3 in six starts.

Between the end of the regular season and his first postseason appearance, Anderson worked on shortening his delivery. In two postseason games, he allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings. He got the victory by working 3 1-3 innings of relief against Atlanta in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Before Tuesday night's workout, which was open to the public, Brenly committed only to Schilling starting Game 1 and Randy Johnson Game 2, but hinted Anderson might go in Game 3.

''The way the ballpark is configured obviously it behooves you to have a left-hander on the mound if at all possible,'' Brenly said. ''After Game 1 and Game 2, there are some options there. We'll see where we are after two games.''

The Diamondbacks were finally able to admit they wanted to play the Yankees all along.

''You never want to say anything before the fact, but this seems like the way it ought to be,'' Brenly said.

''Nationally, it certainly makes for a great story with everything the city of New York and the people of New York have gone through over the past six weeks. Of course, the storybook ending is that they win the World Series,'' he said, ''but hopefully we can do something to prevent that from happening.''

Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo repeated his belief that the World Series, which begins Saturday night at Bank One Ballpark, will be ''the biggest sports event in Arizona history, without a doubt.''

He privately had been rooting for the Yankees to be the opponent in the franchise's first World Series appearance.

''It's the aura, it's the history,'' Colangelo said, ''as you're building your own tradition and your own foundation. They're the defending champions, too. It's fitting. This is our first trip, and to play the Yankees I think is apropos.''

Before the American League championship series was over, most of the Diamondbacks hedged when asked if they wanted to face New York or the Seattle Mariners.

''But deep down, every guy on this team wanted to play the Yankees,'' Luis Gonzalez said. ''Why not play the best?''

Several thousand people attended the combination workout and pep rally at Bank One Ballpark, where rock music blared and Thom Brennaman served as master of ceremonies. On behalf of the team, Johnson presented NLCS most valuable player Craig Counsell with a Rolex watch.

The Diamondbacks have lost tens of millions of dollars in their first four seasons, and Colangelo said the World Series appearance would pay dividends, and not just over the next week or two.

''My experience in the NBA when we went to the finals, which we did twice, is you have a carry-over in terms of season ticket sales, marketing packages. People want to identify with a winning franchise,'' said Colangelo, who also owns the Phoenix Suns.

Center fielder Steve Finley played in a World Series in Yankee Stadium with San Diego in 1998.

''It's awesome,'' Finley said. ''It's loud. It's a great baseball atmosphere there. You have a lot of history and you've got great fans there.''

He doubted any of the Diamondbacks will be intimidated.

''You can make a lot more out of it than it really is, to be honest with you,'' Finley said. ''When we played there in '98 it was a blast. It was a great playoff atmosphere just like St. Louis is a great baseball atmosphere.''

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