10/02/2002 12:38 pm ET
MLBeat: Veterans fill out roster
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Using the conventional wisdom that veterans perform better in the playoffs than first-year players, the Giants filled out their postseason roster with experienced players Wednesday, omitting Damon Minor, Chad Zerbe and Ryan Jensen.
Although the latter two choices were expected, the omission of Minor leaves the club without a power-hitting left-hander off the bench but with more experienced right-handed hitters like Shawon Dunston and Tsuyoshi Shinjo.
"Damon had a little tough time this last month pinch hitting," said manager Dusty Baker. "It's a tough job for a young guy, where [Tom] Goodwin's been excellent for us this year and gives us more speed and [Shawon] Dunston has done it for quite a few years now."
When it came to left-handed relievers, Baker chose Aaron Fultz over Zerbe because he has a better breaking ball and because he's more accustomed to pitching short stints.
"There's less of a need of a long reliever in a five-game series here," said Baker. "A seven-game series could be different. ... The next series, who knows? We might need three lefties and Jensen."
The Braves decided to carry a third catcher on their roster, adding Steve Torrealba to the roster. The rookie receiver not related to Giants' backstop Yorvit Torrealba.
Leading off: The first batter of the NLDS, Kenny Lofton, played for the Braves in the 1997 Division Series against Houston and the NLCS that year against Cleveland, but when asked to recall what the Atlanta's mindset entering those series was, he recalled only that the Braves "cared about the pitchers, that's it."
Maybe Lofton just didn't want to remember that postseason. He batted .154 (2-for-13) against the Astros and .185 (5-for-27) against the Marlins, who eventually won the World Series. In fact, in 10 different playoff series the center fielder has batted higher than .200 just twice -- the 1998 Division Series when he batted .375 and the 1995 ALCS when he hit .458.
"I'm going to go out and do my job, but it's me against the pitcher and that's the bottom line," said Lofton. "If they get the extra calls (by the umpire), we're in trouble. If they have to throw the ball over the plate, we're going to get them but if they don't have to throw the ball over the plate, it's going to be tough to beat those guys."
Batting second: Rich Aurilia, who will hit behind Lofton, knows the Giants face a difficult challenge in going up against Cy Young Award Winners Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux.
"You marvel at the way they do it," said Aurilia, who has .371 lifetime average against Glavine. "[Randy] Johnson and [Curt] Schilling just overpower you. Maddux and Glavine outpitch you. They don't have that electric stuff ... but they've been doing it forever."
Still, Aurilia takes solace in the fact that his team has defeated Schilling and Johnson, Houston's Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller, Montreal's Javier Vazquez and Maddux all since mid-August.
"We rise to the occasion when we face guys like that," said Aurilia. "Whoever we play now is going to have good pitching or they wouldn't be here, but we're confident."
Madduz moved: The Braves have pushed Maddux back to Game 3 due to a blister on his right index finger and will have Kevin Millwood start in Game 2 on Thursday.
That means the Giants won't get a chance to beat Maddux at Turner Field for the second time in two months, a feat they accomplished on Aug. 13. It was in that game that San Francisco's Game 1 starter, Russ Ortiz, gained confidence pitching in a park where he was previously 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA.
"It helped because I don't think I really threw the ball well [here] before," said Ortiz. "It helps a lot as far as confidence. But also knowing who was pitching on the other side, I was able to let that go ... and concentrate on what I had to do."
As for his choice between facing Maddux or Millwood in Game 2, Baker had no preference.
"You're going to face either one of them sooner or later."
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.