Lefthander Graeme Lloyd was the only member of the Yankees to
celebrate the team's world championship by renting a beach house
on the west coast of Australia and jumping into the Indian
Ocean--a body of water he couldn't have hit with one of his
pitches last August. Lloyd spent the off-season in his native
country bodysurfing, boogie boarding, snorkeling and bringing
tranquility to a life that, he says, had been "completely
uprooted." No worries, mate.
"One of the Australian magazines wrote, 'It's good to see an
Australian doing well in an obscure sport,'" says the
29-year-old Lloyd. "I think there were more people who turned
out for the parade in New York than know about baseball in
Australia. I'm anonymous there. I don't mind at all."
Lloyd had been similarly anonymous in the U.S. until the Brewers
traded him to the Yankees on Aug. 23. Unbeknownst to New York,
Lloyd's left elbow was sore, and he took a cortisone shot nine
days before the trade. He pitched so poorly--during 13
regular-season appearances with the Yankees he had a 17.47
ERA--that on Sept. 24, New York filed a grievance claiming
Milwaukee had shipped the Yankees damaged goods. "It was the
toughest period of my life," Lloyd says.
Manager Joe Torre didn't bother using Lloyd for 17 days after a
terrible outing on Aug. 29. The rest, though, allowed Lloyd's
elbow to get better. That Torre even bothered to include Lloyd
on the postseason roster prompted Yankees fans to vigorously boo
him before Game 1 of the Divisional Series against the Rangers.
Says New York reliever Mike Stanton, then with the Rangers, "You
couldn't miss it. He got booed louder than any of us."
March 31, 1997
Says Lloyd, "I knew my elbow had started to come around the last
couple of series of the season. I was ready to show what I had."
Though the Bronx can be a tough place, it couldn't break Lloyd,
the son of a sheep shearer who grew up on a farm and served as
an electrician's apprentice before leaving Australia for a
career in American baseball in 1988. He faced 15 batters in the
postseason and retired all but one, while not allowing a run. By
the final game of the World Series, a 3-2 win that Lloyd helped
preserve when he retired Ryan Klesko on a sixth-inning pop with
two runners on, Yankees fans had adopted him as something of a
This season Lloyd and his surgically repaired elbow figure to
play a more prominent role. With Mariano Rivera inheriting John
Wetteland's closing job, New York's pen must pick up the 1072/3
innings Rivera threw, mostly as a set-up man. No one was more
responsible than Rivera for the Yankees' 70-3 record when
leading after six innings. Lloyd, whom righthanders pasted for a
.303 average in 1996, will be charged with retiring lefthanders
in critical late-inning spots. "After what he went through last
year, and pitching the way he did at the end, he's somebody you
want out there in a tough situation," Torre says.
As for the grievance the Yankees filed, Lloyd's October surprise
rendered it moot.
SS Derek Jeter
Hit .350 in second half of 1996 season, .361 in postseason
3B Wade Boggs
More walks than strikeouts in all 15 major league seasons
CF Bernie Williams
Bats better righthanded (.320 career) than lefthanded (.267)
DH Cecil Fielder
Needs 11 home runs to reach 300
1B Tino Martinez
Carries an 81-game errorless streak into '97
LF Darryl Strawberry
Won starting job over Tim Raines with a sizzling spring
RF Paul O'Neill
Fifth in the league against righthanded pitchers (.338) in '96
2B Mariano Duncan
League newcomer last season hit 78 points above career average
C Joe Girardi
Backup Jorge Posada has played just nine games in majors
Ace David Cone
Fourth-best winning percentage (.630) among active pitchers
Closer Mariano Rivera
Faced 425 batters last season, allowed one home run
All five pitchers in the rotation have had at least one season
in which they led their team in victories. Andy Pettitte was the
Yankees' top winner last year with 21 victories. David Cone was
the Mets' ace in 1988 and '91, and he led the Royals in '94.
Dwight Gooden led the Mets in wins in '84, '85, '87 and '93.
Kenny Rogers ranked No. 1 among Rangers starters from '93
through '95, and David Wells was top gun for the Tigers in '95.
STAT FACTS BY ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU