New No. 2 man may free R. Henderson on bases

CINCINNATI — CINCINNATI -- The change was coming anyway, but it came none too soon. Dave Henderson started in center field for the Oakland Athletics in Game 2, the day after Willie McGee single-handedly had shut down the A's running game.

McGee batted behind Rickey Henderson in the Game 1 starting lineup, which was supposed to give the A's great speed at the top of the order. It ended up having the opposite effect since McGee never allowed Henderson to test Cincinnati Reds catcher Joe Oliver.


Henderson reached base four times in Game 1. McGee followed him to the plate each time and swung at the first pitch. That's not exactly the best way to get the most out of the best base stealer in baseball history, but Henderson said he knew it was going to happen.

"We talked before the game, and he said he was in a groove and he was going to be hitting," Rickey Henderson said. "I always talk to my [No. 2] hitter before the game to see how he feels. I've never been one to take the bat out of a guy's hands."


McGee had a hit-and-run single in the fifth inning, but his 1-for-5 performance hardly made up for the way he stifled the running game.

Nobody publicly second-guessed McGee's judgment, but it will be interesting to see where he bats the next time he is in the starting lineup. Carney Lansford moved into the second spot for Game 2, with Dave Henderson batting fifth.

* Game 2 was played on the first anniversary of the San Francisco Bay area earthquake that interrupted last year's World Series for 10 days. The A's haven't forgotten.

"We're still very sympathetic toward the people who lost loved ones and lost their lives," catcher Terry Steinbach said.

The show went on, of course, and the A's swept the San Francisco Giants, but the outcome of the Series was just a footnote to history.

"It was devastating," Jose Canseco said, "and it was a time when the Bay area was in its glory. It was a no-lose situation. We were in it, and the Giants were in it. It took a lot of the spark out of the World Series."

* Hall of Famer Juan Marichal laughs about it now, but when he found out that his daughter, Rosie, was dating Jose Rijo a few years ago, he didn't find it the least bit amusing.

"I was a little cold toward him for a while," Marichal said, "but that didn't last very long. Now we talk before almost every one of his games."


Marichal had to get used to having him around. Rijo became his son-in-law in 1987 and has spent the past several years trying to prove himself to one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

Marichal has mixed emotions about the World Series. He works as a scout for the A's, so he couldn't exactly give his son-in-law tips on how to get Canseco out.

"He said he gets his paycheck from Sandy Alderson, so all he could do was wish me good luck," Rijo said.

* Mark McGwire, who left five runners on base in two pivotal situations in Game 1, attributed his lack of production in part on bad wood. He broke his bat on a grounder to short with two runners on in the third.

"I think if the bat doesn't shatter," he said, "the ball's up the middle."

McGwire blamed himself for popping out with the bases loaded in the fifth.


"That was a pitch I should have hit," McGwire said. "It was a slider right over the plate. I should have driven it to right-center field."

* Tough talk, Oakland style: Canseco obviously wasn't intimidated by the Reds' offensive onslaught in Game 1. He just revised his prediction on the length of the series.

"It was a tremendous victory," Canseco said of Cincinnati's 7-0 win. "It might prolong it to six games now."

* Tough talk, Cincinnati style: Rijo said after Game 1 that the National League East champion Pittsburgh Pirates might be tougher than the A's.

"The Pirates might be a little more difficult," Rijo said, "because they have so many good left-handed hitters."

But Rijo later said he was referring to the way each lineup matched up against him, not necessarily the overall quality of the teams.


* Who's Kissing Her Now Dept.: First Lady Barbara Bush thre out the first ball before Game 2, setting off a round of kissing that didn't stop until both managers had bussed Bush and A's manager Tony La Russa had smooched Reds owner Marge Schott.

The only ones who didn't exchange a kiss were La Russa and Reds manager Lou Piniella. They're just good friends.

La Russa, noted animal-rights activist, even interrupted his pre-game routine to have a picture taken with Schottzie, the front office St. Bernard. Who knows, maybe when Schottzie becomes Reds general manager, she'll try to hire La Russa away from the A's.

* Fire broke out in a concession stand yesterday at Riverfront Stadium, but fire engines responded quickly and controlled the situation well before any fans were admitted to the ballpark.