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MLBeat: What's the order?
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Division Series
10/06/2002 10:12 pm ET 
MLBeat: What's the order?
New grass makes outfielder much more playable
By Kent Schacht and Mychael Urban / MLB.com

The outfield at Network Associates Coliseum before (left) and after (right). (Kent Schacht/MLB.com)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- With two out and the tying run on first base Sunday in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, pinch hitter Greg Myers strode purposely toward home plate.

Minutes earlier, Mark Ellis had hit a three-run homer to bring the A's within a run of the Twins, and with Minnesota closer Eddie Guardado reeling, the 32,146 fans in attendance were no doubt thinking of Myers' walk-off homer against Angels closer Troy Percival earlier in the season.

One problem. It wasn't Myers' turn to bat. It was Ray Durham's turn.

"I looked up and said, 'What's he doing up there?'" said manager Art Howe.

So with Myers about to step into the batter's box, Howe and a couple of coaches came streaming -- and screaming -- out of the Oakland dugout. Myers sheepishly trudged back to the on-deck circle, Durham stepped in, and a minute later the game was over.

Durham's popup landed in the glove of Twins second baseman Denny Hocking, and Minnesota celebrated their trip to the AL Championship Series.

"Evidently he didn't check out the lineup card," Howe said of Myers. "He was hitting second, not first."

Then Howe allowed himself a smile.

"I'm glad he was anxious to hit, at least."

See you next year? Randy Velarde, no. Scott Hatteberg, yes. David Justice, probably not.

None of the aforementioned trio of A's are signed for next season, but each more or less made their intentions clear after Sunday's loss.

"That was it," said Velarde, who went 1-for-2 Sunday and 3-for-5 in the series. He's retiring to Texas after 16 years in the big leagues.

Hatteberg, who hit .500 (7-for-14) in the series, said he's coming back. The A's have an option on him for 2003, said to be in the neighborhood of $1.7-$2 million, and he said general manager Billy Beane has told him it will be picked up.

As for Justice, who batted .238 in his 10th postseason since breaking into the bigs in 1989, the door was left slightly open. He's said all year that he was 99 percent sure he'd retire, and he stuck to that Sunday.

Asked if he'd try to talk Justice out of retirement, Howe said, "I haven't had time to think about it. Right now I'm dealing with today."

The grass is greener: The turf at Network Associates Coliseum, which was criticized roundly by several players on both the A's and Twins during the first two games of the ALDS, received a facelift in the three days the games shifted to Minnesota.

Approximately 35,000 square feet of new sod was laid across most of the outfield and behind home plate over the last few days, replacing turf that was more accurately a mix of dirt, paint and some dead grass, a victim of the bleachers that cover center field when the Coliseum is used for football.

A's head groundskeeper Clay Wood said his crew began ripping out the old turf on Wednesday, immediately after Game 2, and was able to lay the new sod in on Friday. While two days is not the ideal amount of time turf needs to play perfectly, Wood said he didn't expect any problems in Game 5.

"It isn't going to stick in two days, but it's not moving and should play fine," said Wood.

Howe was pleased with the field. "It looks great," he said. "He [Wood] is very good at his job."

Wood and crew laid more than 100 3 1/2 foot by 60 foot strips of sod.

Hudson's health: A's trainer Larry Davis confirmed a published report by a national columnist that Tim Hudson was having hip problems during his Game 1 start Tuesday, but said that there was nothing wrong with Hudson on Saturday.

"He just had some muscle spasms in his hip," said Davis. "It's nothing serious, these things happen from time to time."

Saenz update: Davis said that Olmedo Saenz, who ruptured his Achilles' tendon during Game 1, is recovering nicely after his surgery last Wednesday.

Davis said Saenz, who is now wearing a splint, would have a hard cast put on in the next step of his recovery, and then likely rehab the injury over the winter in his native Panama.

Overflowing Bay: The A's were expecting a crowd in the low-30,000 range for Sunday's game. A busy sports day in the Bay Area figured to factor in walk-up sales. The Giants and Braves faced off about 12 miles from the Coliseum at San Francisco's Pac Bell Park at 4:55 p.m. PT, while the NFL's 49ers will kickoff 15 minutes earlier, at 1:15 p.m. PT, around five miles south of there. Only the Oakland Raiders weren't in town today, but they played a 10 a.m. PT game at Buffalo, which was televised locally. Official attendance was reported at 32,146.

Around the horn: Minnesota's left-handed hitters were 0-for-14 against Mark Mulder on Sunday, and righties were 9-for-15. Said Mulder: "I made good pitches to lefties and bad pitches to righties, I guess. I don't think it's any more complicated than that." ... Miguel Tejada, Oakland's MVP candidate, was 3-for-21 (.143) in the series, and the bottom of the A's order was practically nonexistent. Terrence Long provided a big homer in Game 3, but he finished the series hitting .167 (3-for-18). Catcher Ramon Hernandez was 1-for-16 (.059).

Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com. Kent Schacht is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.





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