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Pirates

Notebook: Sandt to look over his shoulder next few days

| Saturday, Sept. 21, 2002

No one will blame Pirates first base coach Tommy Sandt if he looks over his shoulder a lot the next few days.

Kansas City Royals coach Tom Gamboa was attacked on the field Thursday night by two fans during a game at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

William Ligue Jr., 35, and his 15-year-old son were arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

"A father and son going to a ballgame is supposed to be the purest thing there is," Sandt said Friday. "What did the father say, 'Let's got to the game and beat up the first base coach' or something• I just don't get it. I guess that's our society now."

PNC Park, like every other major-league stadium, stations several several security guards at strategic locations. Even so, fans who are determined to get onto the field usually find a way.

Earlier this season, a fan ran onto the grass at PNC Park and tried to high-five the players. Two years ago in Philadelphia, Sandt was startled when a fan sprinted past him near first base.

"He ran close enough to where it scared me," Sandt said. "I can only imagine what Tom (Gamboa) went through.

"It's a scary thing, but it's not something you think about or worry about. I've had stuff thrown at me and people yell at me, but I never really thought about people attacking me."

In 1995, Cubs pitcher Randy Myers was charged by a 27-year-old fan at Wrigley Field. Myers leveled the infiltrator with a stiff forearm.

After this homestand, the Pirates wrap up this season with a three-game series at Wrigley against the Cubs.

"We have great fans here. They wouldn't come after me," Sandt said, "But when we go to Chicago, I might look into the stands every once in a while, or maybe get spooked if I hear a loud noise or something.

"Hopefully, we'll have a lot of runners on base, and I won't have time to worry about it."

LOOKING AHEAD

The Pirates will be the Cincinnati Reds' opponent for first game of the 2003 season at Great American Ball Park. The game is set for March 31.

SLAMMIN' SAMMY

Entering last night's game against the Pirates, Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa having hit 47 home runs this season — three shy of 500 for his career.

"If it happens here, fine. If it happens in Chicago, great," he said. "I'm not thinking about it too much."

After this weekend, the Cubs close out the season with six games at Wrigley Field. Sosa's family did not make the trip to Pittsburgh.

Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said the team won't go out of its way to pitch around Sosa this weekend.

"We won't pitch him any differently than we usually pitch him," McClendon said. "If walking him gives us a better opportunity to win a game, we're gonna do it. If not, we'll pitch to him.

"He's a great player. You're not going to stop him."

Sosa has hit at least 50 homers in each of the past four seasons, joining Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire as the only players with more than two 50-homer years.

"When you're still playing baseball, you don't think about the things you do," he said. "After you retire, you think, 'I did this, I did that. Wow.' The number (500) is there, but I don't want to sit back and relax right now with most of my career still ahead of me. I'm only 33 years old."

CHAD'S BACK

Cubs outfielder Chad Hermansen made his first visit to Pittsburgh since the Pirates traded him July 31. Hermansen was the Pirates' first-round pick in 1995.

"It's weird," Hermansen said of walking into the visitors' clubhouse at PNC Park. "Being born and raised on black-and-gold, it's a little different wearing (a Cubs uniform). But it's fun to see everybody again."

Since joining the Cubs, Hermansen has appeared in 29 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter or late-inning defensive replacement. He's batting .200 for Chicago, after hitting .206 in 65 games with the Pirates.

WALK THIS WAY

Brian Giles drew a pair of walks Thursday night, giving him 129 this season — a franchise record for a left-handed batter. Barry Bonds drew 127 bases on balls in 1992. Giles is on pace for 137 walks this season, which would tie the team mark set by Ralph Kiner in 1951.

FEEL THE BREEZE

Entering last night's game, the Cubs led the majors in strikeouts at the plate (1,206) and on the mound (1,249). The last big-league team to accomplish that feat was the Boston Reds of the Union Association in 1884.

The Union Association folded after just one season. The Pittsburgh club in the league was nicknamed the Stogies.

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