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Rothschild's return a thrill for Piniella

By MARC TOPKIN and Times wire reports

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 4, 2000

Lou Piniella has a big I-told-you-so for all the people who thought he was headed to the Devil Rays, and some hearty congratulations for Larry Rothschild for keeping his job.

"I told you all that there was nothing to it, that it was pure media speculation," Piniella said Tuesday before his Mariners opened the American League divisional playoffs at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

"I'm very happy for Larry. They went through a lot of problems down there and finished up strong. Larry's a good baseball man and a true friend. I'm very pleased to see him back."

There was considerable speculation that Piniella, a Tampa native, would be the leading candidate to take over the Rays had Rothschild been dismissed.

Mariners general manager Pat Gillick, who hopes to entice Piniella to sign a new contract, said he, too, was happy to see Rothschild retain his job.

"Cuts down one of the options," Gillick said.

HERBERT HURTING: Third baseman Herbert Perry, whose Devil Rays career was limited by injuries, nearly missed Tuesday's opener with a sore left hamstring. Perry had 21/2 hours of treatment Monday and was able to start. He went 1-for-4.

BACK, MEET WALL: It was only one game, but in a best-of-five series every game is a big one. That's why the Mariners said winning the opener on the road was so important.

"To get the first one puts the pressure on the other team," Seattle's John Olerud said. "They really need to win (today) because they don't want to be two down going to Seattle."

Chicago's Ray Durham agreed: "We have to win (today). We don't want to go to Seattle down two games. That's a tough hole to climb out of, so this is a must-win for us."

MISCELLANY: The Sox have lost six straight home post-season games, dating to Oct. 2, 1959. ... The announced crowd of 45,290 was fourth-largest in Comiskey Park history. ... Seattle was 1-11 in the first game of road trips this season.

NO APOLOGIES: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa isn't sorry about his ruse.

La Russa sent 20-game winner Darryl Kile, set to start Game 2, to the interview room Monday so rookie Rick Ankiel could escape media attention. Ankiel, 21, was the surprise Game 1 starter.

It was worth taking a little heat for La Russa to keep the media glare off Ankiel.

"The biggest reason is there was enough on Rick Ankiel whether he pitches (Tuesday) or Thursday," La Russa said. "He doesn't need to sit up here and have to answer a lot of questions, stuff that's getting into the way of his pitching."

La Russa said he decided to send Kile to the interview room because league rules dictate he make a pitcher available.

He said he had scrupulously avoided announcing Kile as the Game 1 starter.

"Every time I said we were keeping our options open," La Russa said. "If you paid attention, you would have seen the signals that things were not settled."

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