10/06/2002 3:51 pm ET
MLBeat: Hocking hurt in celebration
Infielder comes through, but injurs finger after game
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Veteran Twins infielder Denny Hocking played a big role Sunday in the Twins' 5-4 victory over the A's that clinched the American League Division Series.
Hocking, starting at second base for Luis Rivas, also was the lone casualty of the celebration that followed the game.
When Oakland's Ray Durham popped out in foul territory near the Twins' bullpen to end the game, it was Hocking who made the catch. He ran to the infield to join his teammate in celebration. At some point in the big pile, someone stepped on Hocking's right middle finger, breaking the fingernail.
"Obviously, we haven't figured out this whole celebration thing," Hocking said.
Indeed. The finger will require "a bunch of stitches," Hocking told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Though the finger does not appear to be broken, Hocking continued to say that "it's doubtful that I'll play
again this year."
While champagne was spraying in the clubhouse, Hocking was in the trainer's room getting his finger examined and wrapped.
"Everything was looking very bright," said Hocking, who resides in Orange County, Calif. "I had a nice game today we're going to [my] home to Anaheim, the whole nine yards. Hopefully, I can still be a part of this."
Hocking got the start as a precaution for Rivas, who had a sore hamstring in Game 4. The utility player is also .338 (27-for-80) with four homers, lifetime, at Network Associates Coliseum and 7-for-19 in his career against A's Game 5 starter Mark Mulder.
"I thought, 'If I start Luis Rivas and something happens early in the game, then we are really [in trouble],'" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So my feeling was, Denny plays well here, he has done well in this ballpark, start him here. And it turned out pretty good."
Hocking had two hits and drove in the game's first run for Minnesota. Despite nursing his finger, he reveled in his contributions to a team that's faced many obstacles this year.
"Funny how baseball works," he said. "The guy leading the fight against contraction makes the final out and puts the first run on the board. It's kind of ironic, huh?"
ALCS pitchers: It wasn't long after the Twins claimed the ALDS before Gardenhire was asked what his pitching rotation would be in the ALCS.
"I honestly have not looked at it," Gardenhire said.
If Minnesota sticks to the rotation order, right-hander Joe Mays is the likely Game 1 starter vs. the Angels Tuesday at the Metrodome.
"Mays was warming up in the bullpen getting loose," Gardenhire said. "Probably Joe Mays -- he's in line. Don't hold me to it.
"[The score] got to 5-1, and [pitching coach] Rick Anderson said to me, 'Joe Mays really needs to throw on the side now. He needs to get the work in.' I tell you what, I will kiss Rick Anderson's [rear] when I get back to that clubhouse," Gardenhire said, thankful that Mays was loose as Eddie Guardado began to falter in the ninth.
The member of the rotation with the best record vs. Anaheim is Sunday's winner, Brad Radke. He is 11-4 with a 1.72 ERA in 18 career games against the Angels.
Twins notes: The Twins are making their fifth ALCS appearance in the franchise's history, and are now 7-3 in elimination games. ... Radke's wife, Heather, and other family members were delayed getting to the game, because their commercial flight from Minneapolis had to make an emergency landing in Albuquerque, N.M. Everyone on the plane was OK, according to MLB Radio's Brian McRae, who was also on the plane. They were able to book a charter flight to the Bay Area and arrived during the game.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to
the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.