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Yankees waiting on El Duque

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees gave new Mets general
manager Omar Minaya permission to interview Willie Randolph for
their manager's job.

Randolph, the Yankees' bench coach, said Tuesday that he had not
yet spoken with Minaya about setting up the interview.

"They've had some tough times," said Randolph, who played
second base for the Yankees from 1976-88 and finished his career
with the Mets in 1992.

After the 2000 season, he interviewed with the Cincinnati Reds
before they hired Bob Boone. At the time, Randolph and Ron Oester
were said to have balked at small contract offers. On Tuesday,
Randolph said he was never offered the job.

"That's the way they made it out to be," he said.

The former Yankees co-captain grew up in Brooklyn and has been a
coach for the team for 11 years, taking over the bench role this
year from Don Zimmer after 10 seasons as third-base coach.

Alumni Game: Alex Rodriguez isn't surprised Doug Mientkiewicz
became a Gold Glove first baseman.

"Good hands," A-Rod said of his former teammate at the
Westminster Christian Prep School in Miami.

Of course, that was Rodriguez the quarterback talking about
Mientkiewicz, the tight end, on the high school football team.
Rodriguez and Mientkiewicz played together on the 1991 squad that
went 9-1, but Rodriguez gave up football to concentrate on baseball
after the '92 season, the year Mientkiewicz graduated.

"He could've played in the NFL," Mientkiewicz said.

Instead, Rodriguez became one of the best all-around players in
baseball, leading the New York Yankees into the AL championship
series against Mientkiewicz's Red Sox on Tuesday night.

Even though they're on opposite sides of a bitter rivalry, both
were happy to point out that at least one Westminster Warrior will
be in the World Series.

Keeping The Peace: Yankees manager Joe Torre isn't happy with
the way some television stations have promoted the AL championship
series, replaying fights between New York and the Boston Red Sox.

"I don't like it," he said Tuesday before the opener. "You're
inciting the fans in my mind."

He also doesn't like some of the computer baseball games.

"You have guys sliding into second base and punching the second
baseman when he gets up," Torre said. "I think that's disgraceful
that we have licensing things going on in Major League Baseball
that promote the violence."

Waiting Game: Yankees manager Joe Torre said Orlando Hernandez
felt fine Tuesday, a day after he threw about 60 pitches in a
bullpen session.

Torre won't decide until Thursday whether El Duque, who hasn't
pitched since Oct. 1 because of a tired shoulder, or Javier Vazquez
will start Game 4 on Saturday at Fenway Park.

"The good news is he feels good," Torre said. "We may have an
extra pitcher that we didn't have last time around."

Stepping In: Kenny Lofton was the Yankees' designated hitter
Tuesday night in Game 1 instead of Ruben Sierra because Lofton
entered 7-for-23 (.304) against Boston ace Curt Schilling.

"Lofton has some numbers against Schilling," New York manager
Joe Torre said. "You really have to do the little things against
both he and Pedro (Martinez) to try to get things done."

The speedy Lofton batted ninth.

Sierra hit a tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning last
Saturday to spark New York's clinching victory in Game 4 against
Minnesota. He's 2-for-7 lifetime against Schilling.

Torre didn't add Jason Giambi to the active roster for this
series, staying with the same 25 players he had in the first round.

The Red Sox replaced third baseman Kevin Youkilis with reliever
Ramiro Mendoza, who used to pitch for the Yankees.

Casual Pedro: When the teams were introduced before Game 1,
Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez came out of the dugout wearing a gray
sweat shirt and lined up with his teammates along the third-base
line.

Martinez skipped his interview room session with reporters
earlier in the day. He did the same thing in Anaheim last week --
and didn't come onto the field for introductions.

Perhaps A Centipede: Boston designated hitter David Ortiz
wasn't looking forward to facing Mike Mussina, the Yankees' Game 1
starter. Even an octopus wouldn't have enough arms to signal for
all his pitches, according to Ortiz's math.

"Mussina has like 20 different pitches," Ortiz said. "And he
throws all of them for strikes. Out of the 20, you've got to go and
pick one, and if he throws it, you don't want to miss it, because
if you miss it, you're going have to deal with the other 19. Oh,
man, you see (Jorge) Posada sometimes taking his glove off to give
some signs. He (doesn't) have enough fingers on one hand."