10/20/2003 12:35 AM ET
After big game, Johnson to sit
The pitchers will hit in Miami, so Johnson won't
NEW YORK -- Jason Giambi feels for Nick Johnson.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The Yankees designated hitter this postseason is about to replace Johnson at first base for the three World Series games against the Florida Marlins this week at Pro Player Stadium. There's no DH, of course, in World Series games played in National League parks.
So the pitcher hits, Giambi will play his first games of the postseason defensively, and Johnson, who had two singles and a double Sunday night in the Yankees' 6-1, Game 2 win, will sit.
"That's rough for him, going down there and not having the DH," Giambi said. "He's such a phenomenal hitter and he's doing great in this series. He's been a big lift for us, no doubt about it, offensively. For me, it'll be good. I like to be on the field. I've been taking grounders the whole time. I've been out there working. It'll be fun to get back out there and play a little bit."
Manager Joe Torre studied several different lineups for Sunday night's game and decided to make some changes after the 3-2 loss in Game 1. He moved Johnson from the second spot to the eighth spot, and Giambi back from the seventh spot to third in the lineup.
"Players know I do this," Torre said before the game. "I told them during Spring Training, 'Don't take it badly because I'm moving you from second to eighth today that I didn't like what I saw yesterday.' It's just matchups. I'm not sure this is a match up situation, I'm just trying to find a lineup that works."
Johnson decided on his own to get himself going by dropping down a bunt toward third base with one out in the second inning. He was safe on the unorthodox single and scored his first of two runs in the game on Juan Rivera's ensuing double.
It was a play that would have pleased his uncle, Philadelphia Phillies manager Larry Bowa, who made a playing career of using such tactics.
The play didn't come off the bench, but out of Johnson's own mind.
"I didn't think about it until I looked down the line and I saw Mike Lowell back there," Johnson said. "I figured, why not? I'll try it and take off running, see what happens."
Giambi, who has been moved around the batting order like a yo-yo recently, said he isn't mystified that Torre somehow finds a way to cull a winning combination almost daily.
"That's why they call him the Godfather," Giambi said. "It always seems to work out. It's unbelievable. The biggest thing is, he knows his players on this team and how they're going to react. That's what separates him as manager from everybody else. He gets guys to challenge themselves and make a difference."
Torre would certainly like to have both Giambi and Johnson in the lineup at Miami, but the rules preclude it.
Johnson came into the World Series hitting .179 with a homer and five RBIs in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Giambi was batting .238 with three homers and five RBIs, although those three homers came in the last two games of the Yankees' seven-game victory in the American League Championship Series over Boston.
Giambi is 1-for-6 in the World Series, while Johnson is 3-for-8.
Johnson couldn't hide the disappointment in his voice about the prospect of being used as a pinch-hitter only in Games 3-5. He figures that after a 3-for-4 Sunday, he's just getting started.
"That's how the game is structured," Johnson said with a heavy sigh. "Jason is going to play first base. He's a great player. I'll be ready to go ahead whenever I'm called upon and go from there. Try to get a good pitch to hit early in the count and just try to be aggressive because you're not in the flow of the game.
"Is it disappointing? A little bit. I love to play baseball. But it's not going to happen so I'll just be ready whenever I get in there."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.