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DIAMONDBACKS STUNNED BY DEVASTATION

Randy Johnson couldn't find the words to describe what he and 20 other Arizona Diamondbacks saw at ground zero.

The National League champions returned from a visit to the World Trade Center site, carrying FDNY hats and holding the experience close to their hearts.

"I just wanted to talk to a lot of people," Johnson said before Monday's workout at Yankee Stadium. "I told them how we appreciated what they were doing."

The Diamondbacks visited a firehouse, where they stood on the roof to get a view of the devastation, and spoke to rescue workers at the ground zero command center.

"A lot of us weren't prepared to see what we did," outfielder Luis Gonzalez said. "We are in Arizona and we see it on TV. We see all of the different stuff going on with the workers and stuff, but to actually go out there and walk on the site, it's mind-boggling."

Mark Grace was amazed at the effort by all those they met.

"More than anything it was uplifting, among the scene and smell, just seeing how much they've sacrificed."

He also said a lot of the rescue workers were Yankees fans.

"They were all giving Randy a rashing," Grace said. "They were great, Randy was great."

Craig Counsell, who said the experience had a deep impact on him, said the team received encouraging words, too: "We ran into a lot of Mets fans today."

With the shift to the American League ballpark brings the designated hitter, and Yankees manager Joe Torre thinks it gives the Diamondbacks an advantage.

"They have a lot of depth. They have a very deep bench, and I think that's one of the necessities if you're going to win," Torre said.

With Roger Clemens, a right-hander, starting for the Yankees in Game Three, Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly will probably choose either Erubiel Durazo or Dave Dellucci, both left-handed hitters.

"We have several guys on our bench that would probably be starting for a lot of ballclubs," Brenly said. "They take great pride in being those secret weapons off the bench or the part-time players that they are."

Durazo, who hit .329 as a rookie in 1999, plays behind veteran first baseman Mark Grace. Durazo hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in Arizona's clinching Game Five of the NLCS. He has 13 home runs, including the postseason, six as a pinch hitter.

Gonzalez's wrist is swollen and sore. That won't keep him out of the World Series, though.

Gonzalez was hit on the left hand when a pitch by Yankees starter Andy Pettitte ran in on the left-handed hitter in the seventh inning of Game Three on Sunday night. He grimaced in pain but shrugged it off and stayed in the game.

Gonzalez, whose wide-open hitting stance -- he nearly faces the pitcher before the pitch is thrown -- might make it difficult to get out of the way of tough inside pitches.

"He was hit very close several times this year, close to the same location, and each time he came out of it with just a bad bruise," Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly said. "If we had to rate it as some of the other bruises: not as bad as some of the others. We are confident he'll be fine tomorrow."

The 34-year-old left fielder, who had 57 home runs and 142 RBIs this season and hit a two-run homer off Mike Mussina in Game One, will not let anything keep him out of the Fall Classic.

"A lot of us have been waiting our whole career to get to this point to play in a World Series," the 11-year veteran said. "With our ballclub, I think it takes a lot more to get some of us out of the lineup."

Had you queried a dozen New York baseball fans two weeks ago, one, maybe two, could have identified Counsell as the second baseman for Arizona. If there was a trivia buff in the group, he may or may not have remembered Counsell as "the guy who scored the winning run in the last World Series that didn't involve the Yankees."

Well, they all know him now.

Counsell, who grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wis., was the most valuable player of the National League Championship Series against Atlanta. He hit a key home run in the Diamondbacks' victory in Game One of the World Series and he'll be the second hitter to face New York ace Roger Clemens in Game Three tonight.

With their team facing a 2-0 deficit and their city working through the emotions of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Yankees fans are going to be operating at maximum volume tonight.

Counsell is going to get booed. He's going to get booed hard. And, oddly enough, he's looking forward to the experience.

"They say if you get booed on the road, you're doing something right," he said. "I think the atmosphere is going to be just awesome. I'm really looking forward to it.

"It's something that we talked about on the plane after we beat Atlanta. We all knew that it would be great to play the Yankees because the fans are so great."

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