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MARLINS' BONILLA SAYS STRAINED HAMSTRING WON'T KEEP HIM OUT OF OPENER

Bobby Bonilla, who has played with pain all season, expects to do so again in his first World Series.

The 34-year-old third baseman and cleanup hitter said a strained left hamstring won't keep him out of Game One tonight when the Florida Marlins play the Cleveland Indians.

"It feels pretty sore," he said Friday, "but I've been through a great deal. It has taken me a great deal to get here, so I don't plan on missing it."

The Marlins were so confident in Bonilla's availability that they replaced reserve infielder John Wehner with first baseman-outfielder Cliff Floyd on the postseason roster. Wehner can play third; Floyd can't.

Meanwhile, the Marlins and Indians can expect summerlike weather tonight. The temperature for the first World Series game in Florida is forecast to be at 82 degrees with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms at the start of the 8:05 game. Winds will be out of the northwest at about 5 mph.

NBC exec wants a sweep

NEW YORK -- One of NBC's top programming executives is not exactly looking forward to this World Series matchup.

"We're looking for four and out," said Don Ohlmeyer, president of NBC West Coast, in a conference call with reporters Friday. "Either way, that's what we want. The faster it's over with, the better it is."

The series could potentially struggle in the ratings without a major market team from New York, Los Angeles or Chicago. Cleveland is a smaller market and the Marlins are a first-time World Series participant.

If there's no four-game sweep, NBC will broadcast the fifth game next Thursday night. That would wipe out the network's "Must-See TV" entertainment schedule on that night, consistently the highest-rated prime time evening of the week.

Ohlmeyer said the baseball's postseason broadcasts last year hurt the network's momentum in trying to get its fall schedule established.

"We never recovered from it and I'm hoping it doesn't happen again," he said.

Television ratings for baseball's league championships dropped 1 percent this year, making 1997 the lowest rated LCS in history. The unofficial combined 12-game average Nielsen rating for NBC and Fox was 8.6, down from an 8.7 for the 12 games in 1996, which had been the previous combined low.

Sign-hanger killed by rail car

MIAMI -- A baseball fan who wanted to display a "Go Marlins" banner was killed before dawn when a driverless rail car rolled into him on a downtown loop.

The death came early Friday, a day before the Marlins play in the Series opener. The man died instantly and his name was withheld while investigators tried to locate relatives.

"Whoever was in control of the train had no idea these guys were up there," Metro-Dade police Detective Ed Munn said.

The electrified cars run quietly on rubber wheels and have no crew. They are directed from a control room and are moved at night for maintenance.

As crews wheeled away the stretcher carrying the body, the words "Go Marlins" could be seen stenciled on the overpass. It was unknown who left that stencil.

Cone expected back by spring

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees right-hander David Cone underwent arthroscopic surgery on his ailing right shoulder, and the team said he'll be ready to pitch during spring training.

Cone, who had inflamed and frayed tissue removed from his shoulder, will begin rehabilitation immediately and could resume throwing in about six weeks.

A's promote Beane to GM

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sandy Alderson, the longest-serving active general manager in the majors, was replaced by assistant GM Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics announced.

Alderson retains the title of president and will continue to oversee day-to-day operations of the team, which finished 65-97, the worst record in baseball. Alderson was president and GM in four of the last five seasons.

Beane, 35, made his big-league debut with the New York Mets in 1984 and also played with the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and the A's before retiring in 1990. Beane was promoted to assistant general manager in 1993.

Orioles turn down parade

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles have turned down the city's offer to hold a parade, saying the team didn't earn a celebration this year.

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