MINNEAPOLIS -- The alignment of the Atlanta Braves starting rotation raised doubts about the arm strength of 20-game winner Tom Glavine, but he said yesterday that he is rested and ready to face Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Tapani in Game 2 tonight.
"There was a time in September when I wasn't feeling real good and I didn't throw as much between starts," Glavine said, "but I've gotten back to throwing just as much between starts. My arm feels fine."
Glavine scuffled during his first start against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Championship Series, but he pitched well enough his last time out to raise wonder when manager Bobby Cox decided to send left-hander Charlie Leibrandt to the mound in last night's opener.
Though Glavine went through a dead-arm period last month, pitching coach Leo Mazzone said that he was more a victim of inflated expectations -- some of them his own -- than any physical inability to pitch.
"I think that Tommy was pitching so well that when he started to give up some runs, everybody was starting to look for reasons why," Mazzone said. "His command was off a bit, but he never missed any of his work. He might have been trying to be too perfect."
Glavine finished the regular season with a 20-11 record and a 2.55 ERA. He went 0-2 in the playoffs, but he gave up just one run over eight innings in his second start against the Pirates.
"I feel a lot better going out there," he said. "My control is better and I've got more giddyap on my fastball. Maybe I wasn't throwing any different [in September], but in my mind I was."
The decision to start him in Game 2 raised some eyebrows on Friday, but Glavine did not complain.
"It would have been nice to start the game," he said, "but Charlie is obviously capable of starting it. It was just a situation where he would start it and I would go in Game 2. It fell better in the rotation and better with the amount of rest everyone needs."
Tapani makes third start
Tapani will be making his first World Series appearance after a disappointing performance in the American League Championship Series. He was 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA, losing Game 2 and getting a no-decision in the Twins' 8-5 victory in Game 5.
"The fifth game, I did not pitch well, but we won," Tapani said. "I guess it was the happiest I have been after not pitching well. In Game 2, I threw the ball well. I fell behind 3-2, but I gave the club a shot to win it. I don't feel too bad about it."
The Twins and Braves are the first two teams in baseball history to go from last place one year to the World Series, but there are other teams that have made more improvement in the standings.
The Twins went from seventh place to first in the AL East and the Braves went from sixth place to first in the NL West. The 1967 Boston Red Sox and the 1969 New York Mets each went from ninth place one year to the World Series the next in the pre-divisional era. Five teams have advanced from seventh place or lower to the Series.
Cuban pitcher assigned
The Office of the Commissioner announced yesterday that the signing rights to Cuban pitcher Rene Arocha have been awarded to the St. Louis Cardinals. The decision was made by lottery after eight teams applied for the rights to sign the star pitcher who defected from the Cuban national team. The Cardinals have until the June 1992 free-agent draft to sign Arocha.
Umpire Steve Palermo, who suffered a serious spinal injury when he was wounded trying to stop a robbery, threw out the ceremonial first ball last night. Palermo continues to undergo therapy at the Dallas Rehabilitation Institute, but is expected to return to his home in Overland Park, Kan., soon. The national anthem was sung by entertainer Gladys Knight, who was attending her first major-league baseball game.
7/8 This is the 10th World Series to alternate between a natural grass stadium and an artificial turf stadium. . . . The AL team has won the World Series in every odd-numbered year since 1985 and the NL team has won every even-numbered year since 1986.