Letting Schilling cut in line no big deal to D'backs' Batista


NEW YORK - Bringing back pitcher Curt Schilling on short rest last night for Game 4 of the World Series also meant that Arizona manager Bob Brenly was forcing Miguel Batista to again step aside.

Brenly hoped he wasn't stepping on anyone's feelings.

Batista has gotten pretty good at swallowing his pride and waiting his next opportunity, convinced it's for the good of the team. Rather than take his scheduled turn last night, he was held back for tonight's matchup with former Oriole Mike Mussina, who took the loss for New York in the Series opener.

"I've been through this for the last seven months," said Batista, who hasn't started since Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. "Last night a lot of people were asking me about my feelings about how [Brenly] changes his mind about the way he's pitching me. I'm not here to judge the man's command. I'm here to follow orders. We've made a lot of changes during the season and I've been in 95 percent of them. I'm used to it."

It's nothing personal. Brenly just wants to run Schilling out there as much as possible while assuming that Batista can accept another disruption.

He made 18 starts among his 48 appearances this season, going 11-8 with a 3.36 ERA but not getting noticed much because of Schilling and Randy Johnson, who probably will finish 1-2 in the Cy Young voting.

"Miguel has shown throughout the course of the regular season that he is not your regular run-of-the-mill pitcher," Brenly said. "He is able to handle things because of his resilient arm, resilient mind."

Batista isn't your typical player. He's already published a book of poems, is working on a novel and keeps a quote from Albert Einstein taped to his locker. He might attend law school in the future.

"I have never been around anybody like Miguel Batista," Brenly said. "He is a breath of fresh air. If you are not talking about fantasy football or baseball or girls, most ballplayers don't have much to say. He's extremely well-read, extremely well-spoken and a very thoughtful, caring human being. He's a great pitcher on top of it. He's fun to be around."

Short list

With his seven-inning, three-hit performance, Schilling did his best to reverse a trend that didn't favor the Diamondbacks. Pitchers working on three days' rest in the postseason were 1-9 since 1999.

Brenly was willing to dig a little deeper into history.

Detroit's Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich each made three starts in the 1968 World Series and combined for four victories over the St. Louis Cardinals. Lolich won Games 2, 5 and 7.

The Minnesota Twins relied on three-man staffs while winning the 1987 and 1991 World Series in seven games. Frank Viola (1987) and Jack Morris (1991) went on short rest to win the clinching games.

Hall of Famer Bob Gibson made three starts each in the 1964, 1967 and 1968 World Series, tossing eight complete games and going 7-2. He won Game 7 of the '64 Series on two days' rest.

The record for fewest starters used in a World Series is two: Jack Coombs and Chief Bender combined to start all five games for the 1910 Philadelphia A's.

Knoblauch benched

Yankees manager Joe Torre benched Chuck Knoblauch last night, again starting Shane Spencer in left field and using David Justice at his designated hitter.

Knoblauch, who wasn't used last night, is batting .231 in the postseason and was hitless in 12 World Series at-bats.

"I wish I could put my finger on it and maybe I could fix it," Torre said. "I'm just fiddling with it to see if we can stimulate some offense here. I think the one thing Knobby has been doing, he's hitting a lot of balls in the air and that's not a good sign for someone who relies on his speed, and he's normally a line drive, down guy."

"I'm not happy with it," Knoblauch said. "I'm sure Joe knows that."

Spencer paid dividends, hitting a third-inning homer and throwing a man out at home in the fifth.

Difficult Moose

Often combative or uncooperative with the media, Mussina continues to be a difficult interview in the postseason.

A sampling of yesterday's pre-game session:

Reporter: "Joe thought in Game 1 command was the biggest issue for you. Would you agree?

Mussina: "Yes."

Reporter: "Would you expand on that?"

Mussina: "Well, I don't know what else ... that's it."

Reporter: "Any reason why?"

Mussina: "I mean, I don't know what to tell you. I could not throw it where I wanted to throw it. Just that simple."

Later, Mussina was lured into the topic of contraction, with Major League Baseball possibly eliminating one or two teams.

"We would not be too excited about all of those [lost] jobs," Mussina said, "and you are not just talking about the jobs that we all see every day, 25 guys on each club, coaches, staff. You're talking about two entire minor-league organizations and all of those players, too, and those staffs. So it's a pretty big issue and I don't think it's going to be resolved in a handful of days or months. It's bigger than that."

Who's in charge here?

As midnight arrived, Torre's contract expired without a resolution.

With the season extended because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Torre finds himself in a unique situation. Then again, anything's possible when your boss is George Steinbrenner.

Asked about the possibility of bench coach Don Zimmer becoming interim manager, Torre smiled and said, "I don't think his contract runs past today, either. No, we are connected at the hip, so I don't think that's going to happen.

"I think the fact that it won't be resolved is because there are more important things at hand right now. The last thing I want to do is distract what we need to be paying attention to, and it's baseball.

"George and I have talked enough and I think we are both sort of in agreement that we want to keep this thing going on."

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