World Series notebook

They’re center of attention

Cabrera is out, Victorino is ailing

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 3, 2009

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PHILADELPHIA - The Yankees lost their center fielder for the World Series, Melky Cabrera having been taken off the roster because a strained left hamstring.

The Philadelphia Phillies hope they still have theirs.

Shane Victorino was hit on the right hand by an A.J. Burnett pitch in the first inning of Philadelphia’s 8-6 victory last night and left in the eighth inning to get X-rays. They were negative.

But Victorino appeared to be in discomfort, shaking his hand after popping out in the second inning and removing his batting gloves carefully afterward. He was 0 for 3 before being replaced by Ben Francisco to start the eighth.

Afterward, Victorino was confident he would be ready to go in Game 6, especially with the day off between the games.

“It got stiffer as the game went on,’’ Victorino said. “I struggled to hold the bat. But throwing was fine. Everything was good. I felt fine. Hitting was a little difficult, a little tough. I couldn’t find my grip. Still wasn’t an excuse for me stinking it up at the plate.’’

Victorino thought he was going back out for the eighth.

“It’s nothing to write home about,’’ Victorino said. “It’s not a story. I wanted to play. It was a mix up there.’’

Manager Charlie Manuel is hopeful Victorino will be OK.

“His finger is going to be sore,’’ Manuel said. “It’s definitely not broken and he didn’t have a fracture. A couple days and it probably is going to be OK. I think the fact it started swelling and everything, that’s what caused it to become stiff and sore. He was having some pain in it.’’

The Yankees needed permission from Major League Baseball to replace Cabrera, who was injured in Game 4 running out a grounder to first base in the sixth inning.

Rookie Brett Gardner started in place of Cabrera in center field and was 0 for 4. Gardner shared playing time with Cabrera for the first half of the season before going on the disabled list in July with a broken thumb. Last night was his first postseason start.

Gardner made a superb defensive play in the fifth inning, crashing into the wall in left center to catch a drive by Jayson Werth. He was shaken up on the play but stayed in the game.

Ramiro Pena, a rookie third baseman and shortstop, replaced Cabrera on the roster. He hit .287 in 69 games.

He’s a role player
When Red Sox fans boo Joba Chamberlain next season, will it be when he starts a game for the Yankees or comes out of the bullpen?

Chamberlain had an uneven first full season as a starter, going 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. After a promising first few months, Chamberlain was 1-4 with a 7.75 ERA over his final 10 starts, giving up 56 hits and walking 19 over 40 2/3 innings.

“I thought it was a year that he grew a lot as a pitcher and as an individual,’’ manager Joe Girardi said.

Still, the Yankees lost faith in the righthander by the end of the season and sent him to the bullpen, electing instead to use a three-man rotation in the playoffs. Chamberlain regained the velocity he lacked as a starter, suggesting that perhaps he is best suited for that role.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it in the offseason,’’ Chamberlain said last night.

Chamberlain entered Game 4 in the eighth inning Sunday night with the Yankees leading, 4-3, and struck out Werth and Raul Ibanez, reaching 97 miles per hour. But Pedro Feliz drilled a 3-2 fastball deep into the seats in left field to tie it. Chamberlain recovered to strike out Carlos Ruiz on four pitches.

Chamberlain has said he wants to be a starter. His role for 2010 could be determined by how many starters, if any, the Yankees add in the offseason.

The Yankees have CC Sabathia and Burnett under contract. Andy Pettitte, who has contemplated retirement in recent years, will be a free agent. One-time staff ace Chien-Ming Wang underwent shoulder surgery in July and is not expected back until midseason.

Pick up the pace
MLB vice president of umpiring Mike Port told the Associated Press that baseball could discuss curtailing how often a catcher can visit the mound in an effort to speed up games.

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada made frequent visits to the mound during Game 4. Rules allow only one visit by the manager or pitching coach before the pitcher must be changed. But players are allowed unlimited visits.

The Yankees had six visits in the first inning and eight in the fifth inning, which drew boos from fans at Citizens Bank Park.

“I don’t think it would be fair to tell us how many times we can go to the mound,’’ Posada said. “There are 100 reasons you might go talk to the pitcher. It’s just part of game and some things you can’t speed up.’’

Not so fast
The Philadelphia Inquirer apologized to readers yesterday after mistakenly running a department store advertisement congratulating the Phillies for winning the World Series.

The three-quarter-page ad from Macy’s was on the back page of the first section of the newspaper. It featured a T-shirt with the Phillies logo, the commissioner’s trophy, and read “Back To Back World Series Champions.’’

The newspaper issued a statement saying it regretted the error.

Rondo takes it in
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who is friendly with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, attended the game, with teammates Rasheed Wallace, Eddie House, and Lester Hudson. The Celtics play the 76ers in Philadelphia tonight . . . Former Phillies pitcher and current Kentucky senator Jim Bunning threw out the ceremonial first pitch, along with former Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts . . . Fox said Game 4 was the highest-rated Series game in five years. The game drew a 13.5 national rating and a 22 share. It was the best rating since Game 4 of the 2004 Series, when the Red Sox finished their sweep of the Cardinals.

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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