World Series notebook

ATLANTA — Blue Jays swap 3-man rotation for 4-man rotation

ATLANTA -- The Toronto Blue Jays have taken the plunge for the 1992 World Series and instituted a four-man pitching rotation.


Toronto left-hander Jimmy Key, who made one relief appearance in the American League Championship Series, said yesterday that he had been tapped to get the start for Wednesday's fourth game in Toronto.

"It's a dream come true to get to start a World Series game. The bottom line is I've got to do what I can do. If I do what I can do, I can get anyone out," said Key before last night's first game.


The Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves had mixed results in their league championship series with three-man rotations.

A four-man rotation would allow both clubs to have their most effective postseason starters, Atlanta's John Smoltz, the NL playoffs Most Valuable Player, and Juan Guzman, who won two of Toronto's four games over Oakland in the AL playoffs, available for a possible seventh game.

Smoltz and Guzman were the only pitchers for their respective clubs to have success on three days' rest, as Smoltz won one start and got a no-decision in Game 7, and Guzman won the deciding Game 6 on the shorter rest period.

In addition, Tom Glavine, last night's Braves starter, and Steve Avery were rocked in their starts on three days' rest and worked in Games 5 and 6 to an ERA of 74.25.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox would not name a fourth starter yesterday, saying he would wait to see how Glavine felt tomorrow before deciding on whether to start left-hander Charlie Leibrandt or right-hander Pete Smith Wednesday.

Juggling the roster

Cox said the Braves were forced to deactivate reliever Kent Mercker from their World Series roster after Mercker suffered a rib injury in the wild celebration after Atlanta's ninth-inning comeback win in Game 7 of the NL playoffs Wednesday.

Mercker's roster spot will be filled by rookie right-hander David Nied, who was 3-0 for the Braves in the regular season, all in relief.


Cox could have replaced Mercker with Alejandro Pena, who was eligible for the postseason because he was on the disabled list Aug. 31, the day before rosters were expanded.

The Blue Jays added veteran infielder Rance Mulliniks.

Mulliniks, 36, who replaces rookie infielder Tom Quinlan, has had two at-bats this season because of lower back soreness, but he is one of three Toronto players on the roster from the Blue Jays' first postseason team, the 1985 AL East champion, managed by Cox.

But Cox said Pena, who has had tendinitis in his right elbow, hahad some good outings while throwing batting practice but hasn't been able to shake the pain.

"Every time we've tried him in live action, it [the elbow] has hurtand we didn't want to take that chance," said Cox.

Who makes the call?


In the absence of former commissioner Fay Vincent, who resigned in September, deputy commissioner Stephen Greenberg will make decisions on rainouts or rain delays in Atlanta during the series and game matters that cannot be decided by the league presidents.

Greenberg said SkyDome's retractable roof would remain closed all games in Toronto.

In other developments, Greenberg said baseball's ownership committee was still studying two offers to purchase the San Francisco Giants.

One of the offers would involve the relocation of the franchise to St. Petersburg, Fla., while another would keep the Giants in San pTC Francisco but is reportedly for $20 million less than the Florida offer.

Greenberg said baseball's owners would not let a report that the Florida Suncoast Dome would need six months of restorative work to prepare it for baseball use affect their decision.

He said he was not aware of any attempt by the expansion Florida Marlins to block relocation of the Giants to Florida.


Greenberg said officials are evaluating a study of methods to play games in shorter times, including getting players into the batter's box faster.

"Every fan will tell you that the time of the games is the thing that affects them, next to the price of hot dogs," said Greenberg.

Greenberg said baseball officials will attempt to get the cooperation of players, but denied that longer television breaks were a factor in the length of games.

"What happens during the playing of the inning is more important than what happens between them," said Greenberg.


Former President Jimmy Carter threw out the ceremonial first pitch last night and is believed to be the first current or former president to throw out the first pitch of a World Series since Dwight Eisenhower opened the 1956 Series at Brooklyn.