CINCINNATI, OCT. 15 -- The pre-World Series exchanges of compliments have extended to the revisionist histories of managers Tony La Russa and Lou Piniella -- former Colt League and American Legion teammates and high school opponents.

The way Piniella tells it, La Russa was the more accomplished player when the two played for West Tampa American Legion Post No. 248. "All I could do better than him was hit," Piniella said. "Even then, he was a coach on the field. I, of course, was a screwup."

La Russa confirms the behavioral aspects of Piniella's tale. "He used to kick water coolers, throw bats, throw bases, the same kinds of things he does now," the Oakland A's low-key manager said of his high-intensity Cincinnati Reds counterpart.

"I wasn't even the second-best player on that team," La Russa said. "Ken Suarez {a major league catcher for three teams in the 1970s} was. . . . Lou was a player. I was a borderline talent."

La Russa, however, received a $100,000 bonus from the Kansas City Athletics on the night he graduated from high school. His big league debut came a year later, although his career ultimately was rather undistinguished -- a .199 average in 176 major league at-bats.

Piniella -- or "Louie the Hook," as he was known around Tampa -- tried basketball first, but an ankle injury pushed him back to baseball. After watching La Russa play a few minor league games in the Florida State League, Piniella was encouraged about his chances and signed with the Cleveland Indians for $25,000. He hit .291 over an 18-year major league career.

Now one will walk away from this squareoff a World Series winner -- which is more than West Tampa could ever boast. "We finished second in the state for three straight years when Tony and I played together," Piniella said. A's Activate Bordick

The A's placed utility infielder Mike Bordick on their World Series roster today in place of injured shortstop Walt Weiss. Bordick played in 25 games with Oakland this season -- at shortstop, second base and third base -- but collected only one hit in 14 at-bats.Reds Juggle Pitchers

Piniella has reshuffled his three-man pitching rotation to make Danny Jackson his starter for Games 2 and 5, while Tom Browning is scheduled for Games 3 and 6.

Piniella said he considered adding right-hander Jack Armstrong to the arrangement -- the A's hit .277 against left-handers this season, .246 vs. right-handers -- but opted not to disrupt a setup that has been successful thus far. The A's will go with Dave Stewart, Bob Welch and Mike Moore. . . .

Welch has been the most impressive of the Oakland pitchers in batting practice thus far (the designated hitter will be used only in games at Oakland). Said A's slugger Jose Canseco: "They're all pretty pathetic up there. They'd better take a lot of pitches." . . .

Piniella said his DH likely will be switch hitter Todd Benzinger.Henderson Feels Better

Oakland outfielder Rickey Henderson and Piniella are playing down the clash they had in 1987 while with the New York Yankees. Henderson missed 55 games with a damaged hamstring; he since has expressed bitterness about the episode, saying the Yankees -- including Piniella, then the New York manager -- didn't believe he was hurt.

"It was more {owner George} Steinbrenner than Lou," Henderson said. "Anyway, that's the past." . . .

For the first time since 1957, Cubans will be able to see the World Series on television and listen to it on the radio. The series will be carried on Radio and TV Marti as part of the U.S. Government's broadcasting service to Cuba. Live radio coverage will be carried each day and a special two-hour TV broadcast will be produced and transmitted the following morning.