To add pop, LaValliere may replace Karkovice Chicago is hitless at catcher, DH American League notebook


CHICAGO -- Manager Gene Lamont is expected to make at least one change in the Chicago White Sox's lineup tonight for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.

In an effort to have more left-handed hitters against Toronto right-hander Dave Stewart, Lamont probably will use catcher Mike LaValliere in place of Ron Karkovice. He also is contemplating Warren Newson as the designated hitter.

Karkovice is the only player in the series who has played every game without a hit (0-for-14). A 20-home-run hitter during the regular season, Karkovice has never hit one against the Jays, against whom he has a career .175 batting average. Against Stewart, he is 1-for-14 (.071).

After five games, the White Sox are hitless at catcher and designated hitter. Bo Jackson was 0-for-10 in the three games in Toronto and struck out six times, matching Karkovice's total for 14 at-bats.

Apparently the only thing keeping Newson out of the lineup is his ability to pinch hit (16-for-48, .333 for his career).

Lamont indicated after Game 5 that he would give Jackson another start as the DH, but wouldn't commit himself. George Bell, who criticized Lamont for not using him before Game 3, is another possibility to replace Jackson as DH, but that seems like the least likely scenario.

Raines boosts position

White Sox leadoff man Tim Raines is the leading hitter in the

ALCS (11-for-23, .478). Coming after his .306 regular-season average, the first time he has gone over .300 since 1987, Raines' performance has strengthened his off-season bargaining position.

"I still feel I have a lot more baseball in this old body," said Raines, 34, whose $3.5 million salary may require readjustment. "If the White Sox don't want to sign me again, I'm sure there are other teams that will."

Right now Raines is concerned with getting to the World Series. "We lifted our spirits by winning two out of three games in Toronto," he said. "We've proven we can beat this club. Now, we have to rise to the occasion and get our offense going."

The 59-point gap

The biggest gap between the Blue Jays and White Sox in the composite statistics is the team batting average.

The defending AL champs are hitting .309 (55-for-178), while the White Sox are at .250 (41-for-164). The White Sox have out-homered the Blue Jays 4-1 and both teams have scored 20 runs. The White Sox have a 3.68 ERA, compared to 3.80 for the Blue Jays.

This rally looks familiar

Watching the Blue Jays rebound to win Game 5 after the White Sox had evened the series at 2 brought back memories for Paul Molitor.

"Last year when we [the Milwaukee Brewers, Molitor's former team] were chasing these guys, it seemed like the closer we got, the better they played," said the veteran DH.

"The same thing happened this year. For five months, we hummed along -- until we had to turn it on in September."

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