CINCINNATI, OCT. 15 -- The Oakland Athletics' dynasty-to-be appeared a bit worn around the edges today, as shortstop Walt Weiss was left off the World Series roster, thereby lending some early credence to the Cincinnati Reds' hopeful insistence that this will be a Series to remember.

Despite the ever-increasing number of injuries that appears to have made the A's strangely vulnerable while they pursue a place in history, Jose Canseco bucked the softpedaling approach of most of his "Bash Brother" cohorts by promising a sweep of the Reds in the best-of-seven affair that opens tonight at Riverfront Stadium.

"I said when the playoffs began that we'd sweep our way all the way through, and I'm sticking to that," Canseco said at this afternoon's final pre-Series workouts. "We're really nicked up, sure, but this is no time to back off your predictions.

"Of course, if I'm off by a game or two, just remember that I couldn't take these injuries into account when I said what I did. . . . But we won't lose, injuries or no injuries."

The rest of the A's are not dismissing their rampant ailments so easily. Canseco is hampered by a bruised finger and bad back, Willie McGee by sore ribs, Dave Henderson by a post-surgery knee and Rickey Henderson by a sore thumb and the ceaseless pounding his body takes from hundreds of headfirst slides.

Most damaged of all is Weiss, who missed the final two games of the American League Championship Series with sprained ligaments in his left knee. The A's finally abandoned hope this afternoon that he could be ready to play by the end of the week; offseason surgery is considered a possibility.

Weiss was replaced on the roster by infielder Mike Bordick, who was one for 14 during the season and didn't play in the playoffs.

"It's a shame, because Walt Weiss had a great year," Oakland Manager Tony La Russa said. "It shows that there is no justice in this game. I feel terrible for him, and it's a big blow to us. . . . We really weren't expecting him to play very much by the time we got here {Sunday}, but you always hold out for a miracle recovery."

Still, Cincinnati's chances might seem to be in need of divine intervention. The Reds had 91 regular season victories to Oakland's 103. Cincinnati staggered through a National League Championship Series in which it mustered just 20 runs in six games but outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates while the A's dispatched the Boston Red Sox in four straight.

Oakland is attempting to become the first team since the 1977-78 New York Yankees to repeat as World Series winner; the A's already are the 21st team to capture three straight pennants and own the second-longest postseason winning streak -- 10 games -- ever.

They will send to the mound Dave Stewart, baseball's best big-game pitcher of the past three seasons, in Games 1, 4 and, if needed, 7. The Reds, meanwhile, are making their first World Series appearance since 1976, and their wire-to-wire dash through the NL West lost some of its luster after they played .500 baseball for the season's final three months.

The Reds are short on high-stakes experience. Their best player, Eric Davis, has a damaged left shoulder that contributed to a four-for-23 NLCS nightmare, in which he could pull just five balls. And their No. 1 starter, Jose Rijo, could suffer from a flareup of his fiery temper at any moment.

"On the surface, people are going to say that we don't have a chance," shortstop Barry Larkin said. "The A's are the A's; they're the best. We don't begrudge them that. And then you look at us, and most people say, 'They're too young, they're too inexperienced, they're too this or too that.' But we have our advantages. We're scary, because we have the potential to do some damage here."

Indeed, the A's are wary of this matchup for a variety of reasons. Oakland experienced a World Series upset under similar circumstances in 1988. The A's seemed equally imposing then, yet the Orel Hershiser-led Los Angeles Dodgers dumped them in five games.

Oakland apparently learned its lessons well. Just like two years ago, the A's had several days last week to wait for the NL playoffs to finish. Unlike '88 -- when they used the break as a leisurely respite and simply took batting practice amid a few half-speed workouts -- they conducted simulated games on their off-days this time around.

"We've had our '88 once," said Stewart, who is 7-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 10 postseason starts the past three seasons. "We won't have it again. If they beat us, it'll be because they went out, outplayed us at our best and beat us. Not too many people have done that to us lately."

Still, Cincinnati's attack is a versatile one that can survive a lack of punch from Davis; the Reds coasted through the division race virtually unthreatened despite Davis's nearly season-long difficulties that saw him batting .224 as late as Aug. 19.

The left fielder hit .357 with nine home runs and 29 RBI between Aug. 22 and Sept. 27 (when he hurt the shoulder running into an outfield wall), but his sluggish-of-late swing had Manager Lou Piniella toying with the idea of moving Davis from No. 4 in the order to the leadoff spot.

Piniella apparently still was undecided about that maneuver today, but the Reds' approach has been made clear. They don't seem to expect much sock from a lineup that got 49 of its 125 homers from Davis and Chris Sabo (five his in 22 at-bats in the NLCS). So Cincinnati will run, whether it be against A's catchers or outfielders.

"We have to be aggressive," Larkin said. "We have nothing to lose. We're the underdogs, so we can take some chances, make some things happen -- show them what NL baseball is all about. I don't think they're used to being tested like that."

And if the Reds do get some leads, they can turn matters over to their "Nasty Boys" trio of bullpen flamethrowers -- left-handers Norm Charlton and Randy Myers and right-hander Rob Dibble -- that combined to hold Pittsburgh to six hits and one earned run while registering 20 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.

"As a starter, it's comforting to know those guys are out there," Rijo said. "It means you just have to make sure you're ahead by a run after six innings."

The uncertainties of the Series are plentiful, the sidelights engaging. La Russa said he doesn't know much about the health of Canseco, McGee and the Hendersons but expects them to be available. The A's say they will have no trouble adjusting to the artificial turf here despite playing just 25 games (16-9) on carpets.

La Russa and Piniella were American Legion and Colt League teammates, and Rijo was an A's prospect until being acquired by Cincinnati as part of the Dave Parker trade in 1987. "I'm all pumped up," he said. "This is going to be a lot of fun."

Responded Canseco: "Sure, it'll be fun. The World Series is always fun. As long as you win."