Rogers vs. Neagle in Game 4
Oct. 23, 1996
ATLANTA (AP) _ Even before the start of Game 3, Denny Neagle was envisioning being on the mound for the World Series clincher Wednesday night.
``I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it,'' he admitted Tuesday. ``I definitely thought about that. .. Us pitchers, you dream of being out there on the mound and pitching the decisive game of the World Series.''
Neagle, scheduled to start for Atlanta against the Yankees' Kenny Rogers in Game 4, was with the woeful Pirates until Aug. 28, when the Braves acquired him for two prospects.
Assuming that John Smoltz goes on to win the NL Cy Young Award, Neagle will be the Braves' only World Series starter without one.
``Just to be in this mix and being part of this team and this rotation is an honor and a thrill for me,'' Neagle said. ``Just to be the No. 4 starter is fine with me.''
Neagle is a little different than most. OK, he's an oddball.
``My thing is I make a lot of goofy noises and movie roles to keep the guys loose,'' he said. ``That was my thing in Pittsburgh. That's when I felt I was part of the team here, when I started breaking out a bit and made some noises for these guys to keep them loose.''
Neagle promptly chortled his voice into a train whistle.
Aside from the noises, the left-hander was 16-9 with a 3.50 ERA this season in 33 starts for the Pirates and Braves. He went 0-2 with a no-decision in his first three starts for Atlanta before closing the season with two wins and a loss.
``No matter how many years you've been in this game, it's only natural to want to justify a trade and feel part of the team right away,'' Neagle said. ``I wanted to prove my worth and prove that I belonged in the same breath as guys like Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. I pressed a little at first.''
Neagle's mound opponent in Game 4 can't be blamed for pressing _ he is pitching almost to salvage his season. After signing a $20 million, four-year contract with the Yankees, Rogers struggled to a 12-8 record and 4.68 ERA during the regular season.
In the postseason he was even worse. Rogers was pulled after two innings in Game 4 at Texas, then chased after three innings and two batters in Game 5 at Baltimore.
``He has an irritated shoulder and we are going to take a close look at it after the season,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``I took him out of several games when I didn't like his body language and I was fearful he was going to hurt himself.''
Another problem is that Rogers hasn't been truthful with the team about his health.
``You have to watch him and his release point,'' Torre said. ``Kenny has a habit of saying he's OK, but it hasn't been OK. I finally understand that.''
Rogers originally was dropped from Torre's Series rotation, but the Game 1 rainout thrust him back in. He didn't go to the interview room before Game 3, as is customary for the Game 4 starter. The Yankees said it was miscommunication. At first, it appeared he was ducking the heat.
``I didn't tell him not to come in here,'' Torre said. ``That's his choice and that's fine by me. ... I agree with what he is doing because I just don't want him to deal with negative things at this time.''