10/02/2002 8:26 pm ET
MLBeat: Spiezio gets bad bounce
First baseman fooled by Giambi's hit
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Scott Spiezio looked at the film of the play that he couldn't make Tuesday night, the single by Jason Giambi that went off the Angels first baseman's glove into right field and tied the game in the pivotal eighth inning.
Spiezio is a legitimate Gold Glove candidate this season.
In fact, he owns the best fielding percentage (.998) among Major League first basemen since 2001.
He has made four errors in 2025 chances.
In Tuesday's eighth inning, with two outs and runners on first and second, Giambi muscled a hard one-hopper that bounced oddly, taking Spiezio slightly out of position.
Spiezio didn't make an error on the play, but he didn't field it either.
The hit tied the game and put runners on first and third. Bernie Williams then emptied the bases with a game-winning three-run homer.
After seeing the replays, Spiezio said he wouldn't change anything about his approach on the play.
"That's a play I don't think I've had all year," he said. "It's a do-or-die play. It's a line drive, one hop, it had some topspin on it, and I did what I could to try to get it. It didn't work out. You do your best. I did everything I could do."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that he's used to Spiezio's great defense and had grown to count on that kind of play being made, but he added that he understood why it didn't happen.
"I'm not going to say it was routine," Scioscia said. "The ball got in on him and jammed him a little. I don't know if he got a late jump, but it was a strange hop. We've seen him make plays like that all year. That's baseball."
Spiezio shook his head as he continued to describe the play.
"I saw that it hit lower in my glove than I wanted it to, and that's why it came out," Spiezio said. "I didn't have time to get in front of it. But I'd do the exact same thing again."
Eck's execution: David Eckstein's creative method of preventing an out in Tuesday's fifth inning did not go unnoticed Wednesday.
With Adam Kennedy on first base and the hit-and-run in play, Yankees starter Roger Clemens pitched out.
Eckstein threw the bat head out at the ball and fouled it off, nullifying what might have been an easy assist for New York catcher Jorge Posada.
The bat flew out of Eckstein's hands after it made contact and wound up between home plate and the mound. Clemens ignored it, so Eckstein walked out and grabbed it himself.
"I didn't want to look at him," Eckstein said. "I just went out and got the bat."
Eckstein, who said it was the first time in his big-league career that he encountered a pitchout on a hit-and-run, went on to single Kennedy to third, which led to two Angels runs.
"It's a play we work on in Spring Training," Eckstein said. "I usually throw my bat."
Scioscia said it was more than that.
"That's instinctive," Scioscia said. "He did it all. But that's all Eck. That's instinctive. He's an incredible player. Because a couple pitches later, we have first and third, where it could have been a runner thrown out at second and Eck's up there with two strikes."
Bye bye Buddy?: One of the New York papers had eight candidates listed Wednesday as possible replacements for the newly dismissed Mets manager, Bobby Valentine, and Angels pitching coach Bud Black made the list.
Black also is rumored to be a major candidate for the Cleveland Indians' job.
Black served as special assistant to the general manager of the Indians in 1996-1997 and 1999. He also was the pitching coach for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo in 1998.
"The time right now is about what we're trying to do with the Angels," Black said. "I know a lot of people in Cleveland, so it's a situation where if something came up, I'd listen."
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman said he hasn't been contacted by any other GMs lately but that he wouldn't be surprised if he heard from people after the season.
"If it turns out that somebody calls and has an opportunity for someone to better themselves, great," Stoneman said. "He's a pretty talented guy and I think he'd make a good manager. I can understand why people are considering him a candidate. But for now, the other GMs are conscious of what's going on with us. It's probably out of respect of what we're trying to accomplish that I haven't been contacted."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.