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Torre elects to give Brown the start today in finale with Boston

Yankees manager Joe Torre switched gears Saturday and announced Kevin Brown will start today in the series finale against the Red Sox.

Brown has been out since breaking his non-pitching hand when he punched a clubhouse wall in frustration Sept. 3. The right-hander threw in the bullpen Friday, wearing a glove but letting someone else catch the return throws.

Brown will pitch wearing a glove with extra padding. He practiced with it Saturday, taking grounders.

"I had no problem. It was kind of like the final hurdle," he said. "I felt pretty confident that I'd be able to catch the ball and pitch. The good thing about this is I get a chance to get my feet wet before playoffs."

Torre, who appeared noncommittal about Brown's return on Friday, said he hasn't decided whether Brown will be in the playoff rotation.

"I don't know how it'll play out, but I'm in better condition. Right now, it's about throwing," Brown said. "It is important. I've got to pitch pretty well for me to be a part of this team in the playoffs."

Brown had surgery two days after punching the wall during a 3-1 loss to Baltimore that left the Yankees only 2{ games ahead of the Red Sox. He had the pins removed from his hand Thursday.

Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyrewatched Brown throw on Friday and gave him the okay.

"What (Mel) saw in the bullpen, he was pretty impressed with," Torre said. "His arm is fine."

Acquired in an offseason trade, Brown is 10-4 with a 3.99 ERA.

ATHLETICS: Rookie Nick Swisher, who could develop into the everyday first baseman next season, made his first start there and went 0-for-3 in a 5-3 loss to the Angels. Scott Hatteberg was given the day off.

CARDINALS: St. Louis wanted to give Chris Carpenter the ball for the opener of its division series, but those hopes are on hold, with Carpenter experiencing nerve irritation in his right biceps.

He has stopped throwing and there is no plan set for when he'll resume. Carpenter is 6-1 with a 2.82 ERA since the All-Star break.

DODGERS: Manager Jim Tracywill meet with third baseman Adrian Beltre after the season to let him know how much he wants him back. Beltre can become a free agent after the World Series.

He is having a breakout season, and Tracy strongly believes the 25-year-old Beltre deserves as much consideration for the NL MVP as Barry Bonds.

Tracy realizes he doesn't have the final say on whether the Dodgers will keep him. Still, the skipper will make his opinion known to GM Paul DePodesta.

"I'm very hopeful we have the opportunity to have Adrian Beltre," Tracy said. "Do I want to watch this guy walk off and do this for somebody else? No."

METS: Shortstop Kaz Matsuimade his first start since going on the disabled list Aug. 9 with a strained back. He went 0-for-2 in three innings in New York's 4-3, 11-inning win over the Cubs.

_ TIMES WIRES

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