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GAME SEVEN MIGHT TEMPT HARGROVE TO MAKE WRIGHT MOVE

The Cleveland Indians did a nice job hiding their pitching problems.

There is nowhere to hide now.

If Chad Ogea can save Cleveland's season and beat Kevin Brown in Game Six of the World Series tonight, Indians manager Mike Hargrove will have a big decision to make.

Who starts Game Seven? The Ace or The Kid?

So far, Hargrove sounds decidedly undecided.

"Officially right now, it's Charles Nagy in Game Seven if we go that far," Hargrove said before Game Five. "There's a lot of things that we're going to look at going into that. How Jaret Wright can bounce back factors into it."

Facing elimination after losing two of three at home to the 5-year-old Marlins, the Indians must win both games in Florida to capture their first Series title since 1948.

And since no team has won consecutive games in the series, and the Indians haven't lost two straight in the postseason, it's worth looking ahead to Hargrove's Game Seven options:

Nagy, the supposed staff ace and 15-game winner who has pitched with little command and even less confidence this month. Nagy, whose success depends on control, has issued 15 walks in 22 2/3 postseason innings.

"I look at Charlie as still having good stuff," Hargrove said. "I wonder about Charlie's mental approach to what's going on around him."

Wright, a 21-year-old rookie who beat the New York Yankees twice in the division series, then recovered from a shaky American League Championship Series outing to beat Florida in Game Four. He is 3-0 in the postseason and has one more World Series victory than Indians Hall of Famer Bob Feller, who had none.

Watching Wright this month has been a glimpse of the future and a throwback at the same time. He throws hard, throws strikes, sneers and glares enough to impress even Feller.

"He has a chance to be very, very good," Feller said.

The only reason Wright made it to the majors as more than a September call-up this season is that the Indians' pitching staff fell apart. Jack McDowell was lost for the year with an elbow injury. Cleveland had six pitchers on the disabled list at one point during July.

General manager John Hart acquired veteran left-hander John Smiley in a trade-deadline deal with Cincinnati. Before September was out, Smiley had managed to break his pitching arm while warming up in the bullpen.

"I don't think there's any question we'd like to add a No. 1 pitcher," Hart said. "But look, we got pretty far into the postseason without Jack McDowell, without John Smiley."

So the Indians turned to the thin veils of youth and reminiscence to deliver the city's first Series title in 49 years. Orel Hershiser failed to capture the October brilliance for which he set the standard. Wright was a hit, and might get one more chance.

The Indians face the same predicament as in 1995, when they went to Atlanta trailing, 3-2. With a swing that wrenched hearts of Tribe fans everywhere, David Justice hit the decisive homer in the Braves' 1-0 victory in Game Six.

"It's not going to be easy," said Justice, acquired with Marquis Grissom from Atlanta in the Kenny Lofton trade. "But I'm not going to rule us out."

Asked if his young arm could come back on three days' rest, Wright said: "I'm not going to say no. I'll give them everything I have until I fall apart."
For television viewers, Game Five of the World Series apparently wasn't "Must See TV."

Thursday's Game Five got a 17.2 rating and a 30 share, Nielsen Media research said Friday. The rating was 10 percent lower than what NBC's vaunted Thursday night lineup, led by "ER" and "Seinfeld," received last week.

The rating for Game Five was down 14 percent from the 20.0 for last year's Game Five between the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees and down 20 percent from Game Five of the 1995 Series between the Indians and Atlanta Braves.

The rating was the lowest ever for a Game Five in prime time. The previous low of 19.0 came in the 1993 series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays.

Cleveland and Florida are on track for the lowest-rated World Series since records began in 1959. The current low is the 16.4 for Oakland's sweep of San Francisco in 1989.
When the Florida Marlins signed pitcher Alex Fernandez to a five-year, $35 million contract in December, they envisioned him as a workhorse capable of pitching 220 innings and winning 15 to 20 games.

Fernandez performed to expectations until October, when a shoulder injury turned him into a handsomely compensated cheerleader. But next week, after the end of the Marlins' World Series thrills, Fernandez will learn the true meaning of suspense.

Fernandez is scheduled to spend Tuesday in Birmingham, Ala., at the offices of Dr. James Andrews.

If the doctor finds that Fernandez has a partial tear of the rotator cuff, he will repair the pitcher's shoulder with an arthroscope. The Marlins say Fernandez could be ready to pitch sometime after the All-Star break.

That's the upbeat scenario.

If Fernandez has a full thickness tear in his right shoulder, he will require surgery and will miss the entire 1998 season. His career could be in jeopardy.
The fear of "snowballs" is over.

When the World Series shifts from Cleveland to Miami tonight for Game Six, the temperature should be in the low 80s with light southeast winds for the first pitch.

The National Weather Service also predicts the chance of showers is only 20 percent.

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