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Mariners' changes in order as Piniella promised


CLEVELAND -- Mariners manager Lou Piniella promised after Game 4 Saturday that he would make lineup changes for Game 5, and he delivered.

* Second baseman Joey Cora, who usually hits second, moved up and batted leadoff. Vince Coleman, normally the leadoff hitter, was benched, due to his poor hitting (.063) and extremely weak play in left field. Cora went 1-for-4 and scored a run last night.

* Slumping designated hitter Edgar Martinez was moved from fourth to second. Martinez, the hitting star of the divisional series against the New York Yankees, went into last night's game batting 1-for-15, with exactly no RBIs. "No. 1, they'll have to pitch him a little differently," Piniella said. "No. 2, we'll put the [runners] in motion with him because he handles the bat well."

Martinez was 0-for-5 last night, with two strikeouts, to lower his average to .050.

* Right fielder Jay Buhner, one of the hotter Seattle hitters, jumped from sixth to fourth. Buhner went 0-for-4 and struck out three times.

* Alex Diaz replaced Coleman in left field, and Doug Strange replaced Mike Blowers (.200) at third base. Piniella said one factor that went into his thinking was the dominance of Cleveland starter Orel Hershiser against right-handed hitters this season. Blowers bats right-handed, Strange left-handed.

Diaz was 2-for-3, Strange 0-for-2.

Piniella had stuck with the virtually same postseason lineup until last night.

"We haven't hit the ball that well this series," Piniella said. "It doesn't mean we're going to stay this way for games 6 and 7. . . . We've added another left-handed bat in the back of the lineup. At the same time, we've put some speed in the back of the lineup [Diaz] so we can run a bit more."

Treatment for Belle

The Indians' medical staff intensely treated Albert Belle's sprained right ankle, which forced the slugger to sit out Game 4. "The only thing we didn't do to Albert's foot so far," said Indians manager Mike Hargrove, "was put it in the microwave oven. We thought about doing that, too."

Whatever they did worked. Belle, who the Indians thought might miss the rest of the AL playoffs, walked around the clubhouse without a limp before last night's game. He convinced Hargrove that he could play -- not that Hargrove needed any special convincing to play a guy who hit 50 homers for him during the regular season.

Belle's ankle appeared to bother him on a play in the second inning last night, but he seemed to be moving with relative ease. Belle (0-for-3) left in the seventh when the ankle tightened.

Catcher Sandy Alomar, who missed Game 4 because of a stiff neck, was back in the lineup.

Surgery for Slider

Slider, the Indians' mascot whose human alter ego is named David Kilday, underwent reconstructive knee surgery yesterday. Slider, a hairy, fuzzy creature of some unknown species, was cartwheeling on top of the right-field wall during Game 4 Saturday when he misjudged his landing and tumbled over the 8-foot wall. He landed awkwardly, and blew out the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee.

While the game was being played, Slider limped off the field, along the right-field wall. Some of the Indians relievers heard him calling for help, and after he stumbled through the bullpen gate, reliever Julian Tavarez tended to the injured mascot. He was rolled away in a wheelchair.

Hargrove laughed when asked whether he was aware of Slider's plight as it was happening. "You hate to laugh about a mascot who blew his knee out," he said. "No, I had no idea until I saw him go through the bullpen gate. I saw Slider limping out and wondered what in the world was going on, and somebody said he had fallen off the wall."

"I always wanted him to fall, [but] I didn't want him to hurt himself."


Because the Mariners lost Game 5, Piniella plans to pitch Randy Johnson on three days' rest in Game 6 tomorrow in Seattle. Either Tim Belcher or rookie Bob Wolcott would pitch Game 7. . . .

Dennis Martinez is scheduled to pitch Game 6 for the Indians, Charles Nagy Game 7. . . . The umpiring crew, usually composed of six during the postseason, was reduced to five after Dave Phillips was knocked out by the flu. Phillips will be replaced for

the final two games by Rich Garcia.

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