TORONTO — TORONTO -- The Blue Jays didn't need a controversy while trying to win their second straight World Series, but they came up with one. Batting coach Larry Hisle admitted he was shocked by a report he wouldn't be invited back next season.
Even more shocking, perhaps, was the fact that manager Cito Gaston did nothing to dispel the rumor that Hisle wouldn't return. "We haven't talked about it," said Gaston. "We don't talk about rehirings until after the season.
"If he wants to come back, we'll certainly talk about it. I don't have any problems with Larry coming back, unless there are other people who might," said Gaston.
Reportedly former Blue Jays first baseman Willie Upshaw, the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers last year, will replace Hisle. The baffling thing about the apparent switch is that Hisle is widely respected as a coach and as one of the game's "good guys" and was hired during Gaston's regime as manager.
Although he's been told nothing officially, Hisle left little doubt last night that he felt the report in Friday's editions of the Toronto Sun was accurate. "I'm assuming that it's true," he said.
"Cito called me yesterday and told me it had been in the paper and that he'd been asked about it at the press conference. Evidently the people making the decisions are not happy."
Whatever the reason might be for Hisle's firing, it isn't for lack of results. The Blue Jays tied the Yankees for the highest batting average (.279) in the majors, and had the American League's top three hitters (John Olerud, Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar).
In an effort to low-key the situation as much as possible while the Blue Jays are trying to win a World Series, Hisle kept discussions to a minimum. "I really have tried to avoid the players today," he said last night. "I'm going to sit way down in the corner of the dugout.
"By no means am I taking this to mean I'm not a good person or a good hitting instructor," Hisle said. "I'm going to work twice as hard to turn this into something positive.
"I truly believe I have something to offer. I'm going to pursue all avenues to stay in the game."
Tenace may be going, too
Hisle reportedly is one of three coaches who won't return. Bullpen coach John Sullivan announced before the season that this would be his last year.
Speculation on the third member who won't be back centers on bench coach Gene Tenace, who expressed dismay at the timing of the story. "We have two more games to go and this is something that could have waited," he said.
"It's a disservice to Larry and all that he's accomplished in this game. I have no idea what is going on, even with regards to myself," said Tenace, who filled in as manager late in the 1991 season when Gaston was sidelined with a back injury.
A healthy lift
The Phillies have been a resourceful team all year, but manager Jim Fregosi admits that two players serve as the glue that keeps the parts together. "There have basically been two keys to our success this year," said Fregosi. "Lenny Dykstra staying healthy and Darren Daulton staying healthy. The other pieces to the puzzle are replaceable, but if either one of those guys goes down, you can't replace them."
Staying healthy is as much an accomplishment as driving in 100 runs for Daulton.
Since 1985, the Phillies catcher has been on the disabled list for a strained shoulder, bad knees, broken hand, broken eye socket, neck and back injuries. He has undergone knee surgery six times -- and is due for more after the World Series.
"After going through it six times, it's pretty routine," said Daulton. You play a season, you get it cleaned out and rebuilt and come back [the next season]."
Morandini gets a start
Mickey Morandini started at second base last night for the first time in the Series. Mariano Duncan, who started the first five games, moved to the designated hitter slot.
"Mickey's played very well defensively all year," said Fregosi, "and Duncan is swinging the bat really well right now and we want to keep him in the lineup."
Best of Stewart
Dave Stewart, who started Game 6 for Toronto last night, said two games he pitched against the Blue Jays were his best. He cited a 6-2 win in Game 5 of last year's ALCS and a no-hitter he pitched in 1990 as his top efforts.
"I also pitched a 1-0 game against Roger Clemens in 1988," he recalled. "We had a squeeze play in the eighth inning that won the game."
Not since the Orioles
It's been 14 years since a team lost the World Series by losing the last two games at home. The Orioles, who had a 3-1 lead, lost the last three games to the Pirates, the final two at Memorial Stadium.