DENVER -- No matter which or how many players are implicated in the pending steroid report by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, baseball commissioner Bud Selig is not worried that his sport's popularity will be affected.
"No. Not at all," Selig told a group of reporters last night before Game 3 of the World Series. "If you ask me today, am I concerned about the winter? None, zero. I have nothing to be concerned about."
Selig said he still does not have an exact timetable for the report's release.
"I said all along I hope for it by the end of the year, and I believe it will be," Selig said. "But only [Mitchell will] determine that."
The commissioner, however, said he's not bracing himself for the announcement or for a potential backlash from the public. Pointing to four consecutive years of attendance increases and a gross annual revenue that has exceeded $6 billion, he said baseball has never been more popular. And it will continue to grow, despite what the report says about the sport's dark drug past.
"Whatever George Mitchell uncovers, he uncovers," Selig said. "And maybe we can learn from it; hopefully we can."
He would not comment on what punitive measures he will take against those named in the report. He added that Mitchell interviewed him earlier this year.
"You bet I was," he said. "I want everybody to tell everything they knew. Not because of the gossip or the names, but because someday, long after I am gone, there will be somebody in this position that may learn from all of this."
Both managers altered their lineups for Game 3. Because there is no designated hitter in National League parks, first baseman and No. 2 hitter Kevin Youkilis was benched and DH David Ortiz was moved to first base. Speedy rookie Jacoby Ellsbury led off for the Red Sox.
For the Rockies, left-handed hitter Cory Sullivan started in center in place of Willy Taveras, who was hitless in his first seven World Series at-bats.
"Just wanted to mix it up a little bit," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose team scored a total of two runs in the first two World Series games.
Tonight's Game 4 pitching matchup has Boston's Jon Lester, a cancer survivor, against Colorado's Aaron Cook, who in 2004 had surgeries to relieve blood clots in his lungs. Both men's lives were in danger.
"It's tough enough to get up here," Cook said. "And what we've been through, just to keep our focus, keep our faith and just realize ... that baseball is not the most important thing."
Around the horn
Coors Field hosted its first World Series game last night. Only three stadiums older than Coors have yet to host a Series game: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, RFK in Washington and The Ballpark in Arlington (Texas). ... Houston Astros retiring second baseman Craig Biggio was presented with the annual Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes outstanding play and community service.