Boston coach Little has ears open to O's; Managing in the majors is his goal; Yanks, Sox not happy with fans' behavior; ALCS notebook


BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox bench coach Grady Little said yesterday that he hasn't been contacted by the Orioles regarding their search for a manager, but would be interested in listening.

"I'd welcome the opportunity to talk to anyone about managing in the major leagues," he said before Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

Little is expected to receive an interview now that the Red Sox have concluded their season. He has a connection to the Orioles, managing in their minor-league system from 1980 to 1984.

It was in the Atlanta Braves' system, from 1986 to 1995, where Little made his mark. He captured the Triple-A International League title in '94 and was a four-time winner of the league's Manager of the Year award. His Double-A Greenville team in '92 went 100-43.

"I know a lot of people over there [with the Orioles]," he said. "When you stay in the game this long, you know a lot of people everywhere. Baseball circles are really small."

This is Little's fourth season on a major-league staff. He served as San Diego's bullpen coach in 1996, and has spent the last three years with the Red Sox, doubling as their catching instructor.

"My turn to manage in the major leagues is coming," he said. "I think that would be a great opportunity with the Orioles. I know what it takes to win."

Little doesn't know everything that's been going on with the Orioles since the season ended. While discussing their managerial opening, Little wanted to know who was the club's general manager, unaware that the position is open after Frank Wren's dismissal.

Little didn't seem fazed that the organization has gone through four managers and three GMs since Peter Angelos became principal owner in 1993.

"I look at it like one day when I get the opportunity to manage that I'll do what I picture in my mind is what a manager is supposed to do," Little said. "He should take the players that he's given and do his best to win with them."

Revisiting rowdy Game 4

As expected, the hottest topics at Fenway Park yesterday concerned the second blown call to go against the Red Sox on Sunday, and the behavior of fans who littered the field with debris in the ninth inning when plate umpire Al Clark ordered the New York Yankees off the field for safety reasons.

Tim Tschida's incorrect ruling that second baseman Chuck Knoblauch had tagged Jose Offerman before throwing to first base in the eighth inning killed a Boston rally. At the time, the Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead.

"I'm not saying we would have won, but it definitely was a momentum switch because they know they got away with one," said Boston's Butch Huskey.

Fans became incensed in the ninth when Nomar Garciaparra was called out on a close play at first base, leading to manager Jimy Williams' ejection. Objects were hurled from the stands, nearly hitting a few of the Yankees.

"I can understand where people are frustrated and mad. We were frustrated and mad, too. But you have to show some respect," Huskey said.

"Any visiting player, when things like that happen, you kind of start thinking about your life a little more than the game -- getting hit with a bottle or a battery or something like that. You could really hurt somebody."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said some of the chants directed at Roger Clemens on Saturday were fine, but he felt differently about the fans serenading Darryl Strawberry on Sunday with chants of "Just say no," a reference to the outfielder's history of drug and alcohol abuse.

"What went on with Darryl I thought was over the line. I didn't think that was right," Torre said.

Torre was amused, however, by an encounter with one of the Red Sox's faithful in church on Sunday after lighting candles with his 3-year-old daughter. "A fan came up to me and said, 'If one of those candles is for a victory, I'm going to blow it out.' I said, 'I never light a candle asking for good things to happen like that.' "

Back off, Boss

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner accused Williams after Game 4 of inciting the fans. Williams, who declined to speak with reporters afterward, defended his actions yesterday and fired a shot back at Steinbrenner.

"When Georgie Porgie speaks, I don't listen," he said. "I didn't incite the fans. The situation incited the fans."

Torre not big on replay

Torre was asked about the possibility of baseball using instant replay to assist the umpires. He came up with a sound reason to avoid a tool implemented in other sports.

"Suppose you have an umpire at third base who misses a play or calls somebody safe or out, and it's reversed by the replay," Torre said. "Now you have that umpire standing there all night and the people aren't going to be pleased with the fact that they got it right. They're going to be on him for missing it. It's going to be total abuse. Depending on where you are and how heated the game is, it could get out of hand."

Even with the calls going against him, Williams said he prefers the "human element." But he also would like to see the umpires converge and assist each other to make sure they get the calls right.

"Everybody makes mistakes. I probably made more than anybody in here," Williams said. "But I try to utilize our coaches the best I can to help us in a game situation. To me, that's trying to be a team, to win a game as a unit."

Around the horn

The Yankees finished the century with a 1,011-826 edge over the Red Sox. Boston's Kent Mercker made three starts in this postseason and never got past the fourth inning. Derek Jeter, who homered in the first, barely missed another one in the third when his opposite-field slice blew foul past the right-field pole.

Pub Date: 10/19/99

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