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Marlins, Indians prepare to suffer

Now that the World Series is out of the way, the Indians and Marlins can turn their attention to more serious matters. Such as preparing for the expansion draft.

Both teams likely will lose the maximum three players, and the losses will hurt. Baseball America ranks the Marlins first and Indians second in terms of talent available.

"We have a chance to get stung in expansion," Indians general manager John Hart said. "I think on the surface, when you look at it, it's going to be painful. But we're not looking at it that way, but as the price of doing business. Do we want to lose players in the expansion draft? No. Do we have to? Yes. So we're going to do the best we can to make good decisions now."

The choices won't be easy as both teams wrestle with whom to leave unprotected.

The Indians, for example, actually have to decide what to do with Chad Ogea. He won two World Series games but probably is the fifth pitcher they will protect, behind Bartolo Colon, Jose Mesa, Charles Nagy and Jaret Wright. And that makes for an even tougher call on left-hander Brian Anderson.

The prospect-laden Marlins also will have a tough time. If they are serious about paring their payroll, they may leave a number of veterans such as Bobby Bonilla, Devon White and Al Leiter exposed and hope they lose a few. That would make room for prospects such as John Roskos. Left out may be 2B Craig Counsell.

The Marlins are trying to look at the draft as a good news/bad news situation.

"We're proud of the fact that we've got a lot of good players in our system," vice president Gary Hughes said.

OUCH: Baseball can be romantic, but it also can be cruel. Just ask Indians 2B Tony Fernandez. He looked like he was going to be the hero Sunday when his two-run single in the third inning sparked Cleveland to a 2-0 lead in Game 7. But the Marlins tied the score in the ninth and won in the 11th, in large part because of a costly error by the former Gold Glover. Counsell's bouncer skipped under his glove and set up Edgar Renteria's game-winning hit.

It appeared baserunner Bobby Bonilla may have screened Fernandez _ Bonilla claimed credit for doing so _ but the veteran infielder wasn't sure.

"I just missed the ball, I guess. I don't want to make excuses," Fernandez said. "I know how you can go from top to bottom like this. That's life. Like everything else, this, too, shall pass."

NEXT UP: Want to see those world champion Marlins? The next time they play a game against a major-league team likely will be Feb. 27 at Al Lang Stadium against the Devil Rays in the spring training opener.

PARTY TIME: South Florida has big plans to honor the Marlins today. There will be a parade through downtown Miami at 11 a.m., a trolley tour through Little Havana at 1:15 p.m., a boat parade on the New River in Fort Lauderdale at 4 p.m. and a victory party at Pro Player Stadium at 7 p.m. All events are free. The Indians aren't being totally ignored. About 400 fans greeted them at the airport early Monday, and they will be feted in a parade and rally today.

POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD: The tale of how Miriam Carreras, the mother of Series MVP Livan Hernandez, got out of Cuba keeps growing. Gov. Lawton Chiles got involved, plus U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano of New York. Tony Perez's wife, Pituka, was a key figure. But the most special delivery apparently was made by Hugo Miguel Cancio, a Miami travel agent.

Cancio presented a letter to Cuban officials signed by the entire Marlins team seeking permission for Carreras to come to Miami, and the letter reportedly made the difference. Carreras was issued an exit visa good for 90 days.

"The players wanted to make this happen," Marlins official Jorge Plasencia said.

Hernandez, meanwhile, made clear on national TV he is learning English. After being presented the MVP award, he screamed: "I love you, Miami!"

LIKE WOW: Just how exciting was Game 7 for the players? "I was too nervous to watch," Marlins 1B Jeff Conine said. "I don't think you can find a better finish than that."

MISCELLANY: The teams combined for a Series-record 76 walks, surpassing the 68 by the Yankees and Dodgers in 1947. Marlins manager Jim Leyland invoked the name of Muhammad Ali to inspire the Marlins and was going to have the former champ address the team but decided against it because of Ali's poor health. The Indians played 18 post-season games, most of any team in history.

_ MARC TOPKIN

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