PHOENIX -- Before Bob Brenly became a rookie big league manager with the Arizona Diamondbacks this season, he worked in a network broadcast booth. Which means his paycheck depended on talking. But after seeing Oakland A's manager Art Howe, then Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella, verbally take on the Yankees, only to see their clubs drubbed out of the playoffs, Brenly's mouth merely curled into a smirk Tuesday night when asked if he had anything he wanted to say to New York.
"My feeling is if (the back page editors) want to find something, they'll find something," Brenly laughed, "and I've certainly been known to slip from time to time. So I'll certainly be on my best behavior."
The longer Brenly talked Tuesday night, the more it was clear he really meant it. On Monday, Brenly seemed to rule out starting one of his aces -- either Randy Johnson or, more likely, Curt Schilling -- three times in the best-of-seven World Series that begins Saturday in Phoenix.
His thinking a couple days ago was that Schilling and Johnson, both hard throwers and strikeout pitchers, need their fastball to set up the rest of their pitches, and Arizona had as much to lose as to gain by trotting one of them out on three days' rest. Even if Schilling, in particular, is a workhorse.
But Tuesday, speaking before the Diamondbacks' open workout for fans at Bank One Ballpark, Brenly seemed to backtrack. He had fun playing cat and mouse with the media. The Yankees' suffocating starting pitching has carried them during their postseason run. Oakland couldn't outlast the Yankees in the divisional playoffs despite its three top-shelf starters. Seattle's 116-win team did even worse in the ALCS.
And still, when asked again Tuesday night about Schilling starting three times against the Yankees, Brenly just pursed his lips, paused a beat to milk the moment, then coyly said, "Sure, we thought about a lot of different things. And that's one of the things we thought about."
Could he be more specific? "Obviously our plan is Curt and Randy in 1 and 2, Miguel (Batista) in Game 3. Then, Game 4. How about that?" Brenly said with a laugh.
"Could you at least say which way you're leaning?" a TV reporter pleaded.
This time Brenly didn't answer. He just laughed and laughed again.
Though a lot has been made of the Diamondbacks' ability to roar into the World Series in just their fourth year of existence, the stat is a little deceiving. Not one of the Diamondbacks' everyday players is under 30. Their stars are imports.
Arizona's opening-day payroll of $81 million was the eighth highest in baseball this year and, to help keep the nucleus of the team intact, 10 players deferred portions of their contracts this past offseason because the team is financially strapped.
Their reward was a trip to the World Series behind Luis Gonzalez's surprising 57 home runs and Schilling and Johnson's not-so-surprising ability to total 43 regular-season wins, 665 strikeouts, and a 5-1 record in their six postseason starts thus far.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter wasn't kidding Monday night when he looked ahead to facing Schilling and Johnson and said, "One blows you away with smoke and the other blows you away with fire."
Their duels with Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina could be the most mesmerizing games of the series, if the matchups come off that way.
Not that Brenly is revealing a thing.
"New York? Hey, New Yorkers are great -- are you kidding me? Fuhgeddabout it," Brenly laughed.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.