Marlins tab Penny for Game 1
NEW YORK -- About an hour or so before the Yankees announced their starting pitcher for Game 1 of the World Series, Andy Pettitte was surrounded by reporters wanting to know if he had any inside information
"We're all sitting here scratching our heads, just waiting to see," said Pettitte, who pitched in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday. "It's gonna be interesting."
Roger Clemens started Game 7 of the ALCS on Thursday night, and fellow starters Mike Mussina and David Wells worked in relief. So the assumption was that either Jose Contreras, who has been an integral part of New York's postseason bullpen, or Jeff Weaver, who hasn't pitched since the regular season, would get the call.
"It wasn't an easy decision to come up with since everybody pitched in the last few hours," said manager Joe Torre. "We considered a lot of people."
And after some long conversations with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Torre announced a bit of a stunner. Wells, who started Game 5 of the ALCS on Tuesday and pitched to three batters Thursday, will be on the bump again at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night.
Wells called getting the nod "a great honor," as well as a nod to his resilient left arm.
"When you get in a situation like this, you have to be ready for the challenge any given time," he said. "Normally I pitch with four days' rest, [but] I've been blessed with a rubber arm."
Added Torre: "He could probably get up Christmas morning and throw 89-90 miles per hour."
So the great mystery had been solved. Now the mystery for Wells is in solving a Marlins lineup that's drawing comparisons to the 2002 Angels, who used a balanced, relentless and red-hot offense to knock off the Yankees, Twins and Giants on the way to winning the World Series.
The key, he explains, is in following the plan laid out by New York's army of scouts.
"They got here for a reason," Wells said of the Marlins.
"[But] we've got a pretty good scouting company in this Yankee organization," he said. "They get us some pretty good information. As long as we can follow that, we'll be OK."
Wells has been terrific for the Yankees in October. He beat Minnesota in Game 4 at the Metrodome, he beat Boston at Fenway Park, he's 10-2 lifetime in the postseason. And on Thursday he said that he's been getting a little help from one of the ghosts at Yankee Stadium.
After Thursday's win, he joined Clemens and Stottlemyre on a trip out to Monument Park to pay homage to Babe Ruth.
"Roger, Mel and I went out there and decide to have a toast with The Babe," Wells explained. "He's shining on us, looking down, and why not give him a toast? He's the one who got us here."
Actually, what got Wells here is that rubber arm.
Torre said closer Mariano Rivera's availability is in question Saturday as a result of his three innings of work Thursday, so he didn't want to start Contreras and risk taking him "out of the loop" for a couple of days.
And despite saying he trusted Weaver, he didn't want to start him because it wouldn't be fair to "all of a sudden heap all that on his shoulders right now."
So the man they call Boomer was the only logical choice.
"He threw just a handful of pitches last night," Torre
said. "He's been one that has been able to recover [quickly]. Other things have caused him problems, stiffness and soreness in his back a time or two, but usually the arm responds pretty well.
"Obviously, before we made that decision to start him, Mel sat down with him for a while to talk about it."
And Wells, who spent a lot of time Friday talking about the need to "step up" and "be ready whenever you're called," was all for it.
"It's awesome," he said. "You get fired up for these type of things."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.