10/11/2002 11:59 pm ET
MLBeat: Mohr starts, gets two hits
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Dustan Mohr drew a majority of the starts in right field for the Twins during the regular season, but hadn't been in the starting lineup during the postseason.
Mohr learned that his situation had changed after arriving at Edison International Field Friday afternoon. He got the start ahead of Michael Cuddyer for Game 3.
"I'm ready to do what they ask me to do," Mohr said. "I'm going to go out there and play like I always play -- hard."
The Twins only had six hits off Angels starter Jarrod Washburn in the game, but Mohr had two of them -- both singles -- and scored the tying run in the seventh inning of what ended up a 2-1 defeat for Minnesota.
Mohr started the regular season hot, hitting .296 in the first half. But his average dipped, as Mohr hit just .229 in the second half of the season, and his playing time diminished toward the end of the year. Cuddyer then picked up all of the starts in right field in the playoffs, a situation not easy for Mohr to handle.
"It's tough being as much of a competitor as I am and as much as I love being on the field," Mohr said. "It's not something that I've had to go through before. It's been a learning experience."
Cuddyer's underdeveloped outfield fielding skills were exposed during a couple of misplays in Game 2. With a fly-ball pitcher like Eric Milton starting for Minnesota, along with some expected shadows that could make playing the outfield even more challenging, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to make the change.
"Every time you make a mistake defensively, you lose baseball games," Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire called the decision to bench Cuddyer difficult, especially because he's considered part of the organization's future. But it came down to the bottom line -- winning games.
"I'm not saying Cuddy can't catch the baseball," Gardenhire said. "He's just not as experienced as the other guys. This is a very tough baseball field here. Right field is huge and goes deep into the corner. Dustan has played out here before."
The manager said he would go "game-by-game" the rest of the postseason to determine who will start in right field. Bobby Kielty remains another option, but he's a switch-hitter who gives the club flexibility off the bench in the late innings.
Don't fear the monkey: The Twins were expecting to see the ALCS debut of the Angels' 10th man -- Rally Monkey. They weren't disappointed.
While the Angels were holding a narrow 1-0 lead in the sixth inning, they put two runners on, with one out. The crowd of 44,234 fans went into an uproar when the Monkey appeared on the video board with a sign reading, "Rally Time." He also made several appearances during an Angels threat in the seventh inning.
During breaks in the action, several Twins were watching the pesky primate along with the fans.
"I kind of wish we had something like that," Mohr said. "It was a lot of fun out there."
"We always notice the Rally Monkey," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I love that thing; it cracks me up."
The Rally Monkey has presided over many big innings for the Angels this season, but in Game 3, he came up empty. Anaheim did not score in either the sixth and seventh innings.
"There's not enough upstairs mentally for this team to really get rattled," Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said.
SoCal support: A handful of Twins are Southern California natives and are getting support from hometown friends and family.
Kielty hails from Moreno Valley, Calif. -- about 50 miles from Anaheim. He bought tickets for approximately 25 people and said many others were planning on getting their own.
"I'll have a good group to come watch," Kielty said.
Injured infielder Denny Hocking, from nearby Torrance, said he purchased 36 tickets for relatives and friends. A broken fingernail is keeping Hocking and his .291 career average at Anaheim off the active roster.
Left fielder Jacque Jones, from San Diego, left more than 30 tickets for his group.
Hocking update: Each day, it appears that the bandage on Hocking's injured right middle finger is getting smaller. On Friday, he was able to throw a baseball for the first time and took part in pregame workouts.
Trainer Jim Kahmann said that Hocking was "progressing," but there's no word yet whether Hocking will be ready to play if the Twins advance to the World Series. Rookie infielder David Lamb replaced him on the playoff roster for the ALCS.
Twins notes: Corey Koskie tied a LCS record by striking out four times in Game 3. It's the sixth time overall a player has reached that dubious mark and the fifth time in ALCS history. ... Jacque Jones broke an 0-12 drought in the series with a seventh-inning RBI double. Minnesota is 1-4 lifetime in ALCS Game 3's.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
email@example.com. This report was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.