10/09/2002 8:22 pm ET
MLBeat: Hatcher goes 'backwards'
Coach goes with new look to inspire bats
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mickey Hatcher is "Backwards Man" once again.
Hatcher, the Angels' colorful hitting coach, has taken his red Angels fleece pullover and worn it backwards to inspire his team's bats into a better performance than the four-single effort they put forth in a 2-1 loss to the Twins in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday.
Hatcher first donned the backwards look April 24 in Seattle when the team had gotten off to the worst start in club history -- a 6-14 record -- because they were barely hitting .200 collectively.
The move worked. The team reeled off eight straight wins to get back to .500, then rose to prominence by leading the Major Leagues with a .282 batting average.
Hatcher was pretty forward, however, when criticizing Troy Glaus for taking the third strike to end Tuesday's game with a runner on first base. Glaus struck out 144 times in the regular season, many of them while looking at strike three.
On Tuesday, Glaus gave home-plate umpire Ed Montague an evil scowl after Montague punched him out to seal the Twins' victory, but Hatcher said it was a pitch Glaus should have swung at.
"He's been talked to about it by us and by some of his teammates, and I don't know why he continues to do it," Hatcher said. "He looks at the umpire like it's his fault. Then he looks at it on TV and sees it's too close to take. You have to swing at pitches that close. All I could tell him was that the pitch was a strike."
Hatcher said Glaus needs to open up his hitting zone and be more aggressive.
"That's what makes Garret Anderson such a great hitter," he said.
He also vehemently said that Tuesday's lack of offense was not a case of nerves or lack of intensity -- just a superb pitching performance by Minnesota's Joe Mays.
"This happens sometimes in baseball," Hatcher said. "The guy pitched a great game. When that happens, you get beat, no matter who you are."
Appier concerns? Angels manager Mike Scioscia was asked Wednesday if he is concerned about starter Kevin Appier, who had a largely ineffective September (1-3 record, 5.08 ERA) and has lasted five innings in each of his postseason starts, throwing 95 and 91 pitches in those outings.
Scioscia said he still felt good about Appier, who has a 4.50 playoff ERA this year after giving up three earned runs against the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS on Oct. 2 and two runs on five hits against the Twins on Tuesday.
"I think Ape has made some terrific pitches," Scioscia said. "In the last two starts, he's had to work as hard as he has all season for outs. This is the least efficient he's been. Not only has his pitch count been high, but he's had to pitch his way out of tight situations. But that's playoff baseball. You have to work harder for outs."
Scioscia was reminded of a mechanical funk Appier fell into in June, when he went 1-4 with a 7.90 ERA, but he said he doesn't think the veteran is in a similar slump.
"His velocity is good, his breaking ball is sharp, and he's given us an opportunity to win both games he's pitched," Scioscia said. "I don't see him that much out of sync. I don't think we're into that."
Buck likes Mike: Former Toronto manager Buck Martinez, a big-league catcher for 18 years who is now covering this series for ESPN, was asked Wednesday who he thought deserved the AL Manager of the Year award.
"There are three contenders, in my book, and you could make a case for each one," Martinez said. "(Twins manager) Ron Gardenhire had his top two starters down for most of the year and still won without them. Mike Scioscia orchestrated a dramatic turnaround. (A's manager) Art Howe won the toughest division in baseball."
When asked to pick one, Martinez said that Scioscia would be his choice if given a vote. He also said he thinks Scioscia will win the award.
"He has really put his stamp on that team and given them an identity with his even-keeled attitude based on hard work producing results," Martinez said. "It's his trademark and it's really influenced that team and helped them bounce back from a 6-14 start by not panicking."
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.