Yanks may boycott spots with Gray; NBC reporter's interview of Rose offends Torre; Yanks: Braves aren't done; Notebook

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Torre indicated yesterday that his players may boycott NBC reporter Jim Gray in response to an interview with Pete Rose before Game 2 of the World Series.

Gray, speaking to Rose on the field after a ceremony honoring the All-Century team, turned the interview with baseball's all-time hits leader into an interrogation, leading many fans to phone in complaints to NBC's local affiliates.

Rose, who is banned from baseball for betting on games while managing the Cincinnati Reds, finally lost patience with the relentless questioning. "I'm surprised you're bombarding me like this," he told Gray. "This is a prosecutor's brief. It's not an interview, and I'm very surprised at you."

Torre referred to Gray's treatment of Rose, who had his ban lifted for one day so he could take part in the ceremony, as "uncalled for" and said he was "very disappointed."

"For some reason, we've lost sight of the word 'respect,' and I think we deal too much in shock value," Torre said. "Some of my players came back as it was going on, very upset with what was transpiring, and I just watched it today and was disappointed."

Torre also said he wouldn't try to influence his players on how they respond to Gray.

"I never encourage or discourage them. They do what they want to do," he said. "They're all individuals, and I'll support them if they have good reason to do what they do. I'll support them in what they decide to do."

Nothing for granted

Two losses at home might have drained some life out of the Atlanta Braves, but don't expect the Yankees to begin writing their epitaph just yet.

"Winning two games there, you can't do any better than what we did, but we know we have a lot of work ahead of us," said catcher Joe Girardi.

"They have a very good team. They're a lot like our club. They rely on their starting pitching, and their starting pitching is very, very good. Runs are tough to come by."

Just getting some hits has been a chore for the Braves. They've managed only two off New York's starting pitchers, and seven total. Leadoff hitter Gerald Williams is mired in a 2-for-30 slump. Chipper Jones has one homer in the last month, and it provided Atlanta's only run in Game 1. Andruw Jones is batting .196 with no homers in 12 postseason games. Ryan Klesko is hitting .185 with one homer.

"Gerald plays a big role. He hasn't had many hits the past six or seven games, but he can get hot at any time," manager Bobby Cox said.

"Ryan and Andruw have really good power, and we haven't seen that lately. If they could get hot, it could be a huge swing here."

As if the Braves aren't in enough of a bind, they'll be facing a pitcher in Game 3, Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, who hasn't given up a run in 15 2/3 consecutive World Series innings.

"No matter how good you are, our offense shouldn't be this bad," Klesko said. "When our hitters go out there and be patient and get a rhythm going, we're going to be all right."

Cox said he may hold a team meeting today, though he's not sure what good it would do.

"I don't know if they mean very much," he said. "We can't play any harder, we can't try any harder. At this point, I don't really know what to say except a few chinkers here and there might help."

Long layoff for Pettitte

Pettitte hasn't pitched since Game 5 of the American League Championship Series in Boston. Could eight days off make him too strong?

"I'm always concerned about that," he said. "I'm not a guy who likes to go on a lot of rest, especially pitching here in Yankee Stadium. The crowd gets so into it.

"Sometimes the juices get flowing a little bit too much. That's one thing I can't let happen because my ball gets up in the zone a little bit when I try to overthrow."

Oh, brother

Williams spent five seasons with the Yankees before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1996 and missing out on a World Series ring. He grew close to New York center fielder Bernie Williams during their time together, "but right now Bernie's up 2-0, so friendship is out the window," he said.

The two players are often mistaken for brothers.

"I get asked that question a lot," said Gerald Williams, "but it's OK. He's a very good person."

New York, New York

Girardi needed only one word to sum up what the atmosphere should be like at Yankee Stadium tonight.

"Loud."

"It'll be a good atmosphere. We have great fans, and they're very vocal. They get very loud," he said. "They like to have fun, and I think they know how to have fun and make it hard on the other team."

Girardi understands this could be the last season that some of the players around him, including free agent David Cone, will be dressing in the home clubhouse. And that provides a sense of urgency that, on the surface, might seem a contradiction for a team that has become a regular guest at the Fall Classic.

"When you get a chance to be in the World Series, you have to treat it like it might be your last chance to get back," Girardi said. "You don't know. Obviously, you believe when you're with the Yankees that you'll continually get to the postseason and play well, but it doesn't always work that way. And you never know what's going to happen to your body physically.

"I think [Cone] understands this might be our last time ever to a World Series, and you take advantage of it."

Around the horn

Cox said he'll use Jose Hernandez as his designated hitter tonight and most likely Keith Lockhart against right-hander Roger Clemens in Game 4. Tonight's World Series game is the 88th played at Yankee Stadium, the first coming in 1923. New York is 54-23 on its home field and has won eight of the past 11. The team with a 2-0 lead in the Series has won Game 3 only three of the past 13 times. Each of those clubs went on to sweep its opponent. Torre's stretch of 10 straight World Series victories moves him into a tie with Joe McCarthy for the record among Yankees managers. New York has won its past seven road Series games since losing Game 5 in 1981 in Los Angeles. Yankees starters have a 1.05 ERA in their past five Series games. Scott Brosius is hitting .500 (13-for-26) in six career Series games. Derek Jeter has hit safely in all 10 postseason games this year and in 15 straight overall. The record is 17 by former Orioles manager Hank Bauer. Former Toronto Blue Jays catcher Pat Borders hit in 16 straight. Luis Sojo, the Yankees reserve infielder who missed the first two games while he accompanied his father's body back to Venezuela, will be in uniform tonight.

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