10/19/2002 9:00 pm ET
Ortiz focused on Angels for Game 2
Giants' starter won't be distracted by homecoming
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- For right-hander Russ Ortiz, starting Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday is also a homecoming, but he says that added dimension won't be a distraction.
"I think the last couple of years, I've been able to kind of get over any outside distractions," he said, "and not try too hard and just try to go out there and give everything I have without realizing what's at stake. I just go out there and try to pitch my game."
Ortiz, who will pitch with Giants holding a 1-0 lead in the Series, said he nipped the expected onslaught of ticket requests in the bud by asking his family and friends well in advance if they wanted tickets and then took care of them by buying about 15 extra tickets.
One friend who won't need tickets is former high school teammate Brad Fullmer, who is the Angels' designated hitter. Ortiz, who grew up an Angels fan, said it will be a little strange facing his friend, but it won't a new experience.
"I faced him a couple of times in winter league," he said about former Expo Fullmer, who is 1-for-6 lifetime against Ortiz. "I faced him once this year in Spring Training and so that was a little unusual, a little weird in feeling at first. ... I almost kind of wanted to nod and say hello first and then get to business.
"This is the best time to be able to see someone like Brad, who I've known since eighth grade."
It's also the best time for Ortiz to face anyone, as the 28-year-old won his last six starts of the regular season and is 2-0 with a 3.71 this postseason. That follows a pattern he's shown throughout his career of pitching much better later in the season.
"I think the more innings he gets, the sharper he gets," said manager Dusty Baker. "He's a person that's strong, physically. Second half of the year, when a lot of guys are getting weak and tired, possibly Russ is still strong."
Ortiz has been studying scouting reports and watching video extensively to prepare for the Angels, a team the Giants did not face in 2001. He said dealing with the bottom part of the Anaheim lineup is just as important as concentrating on the heavy-hitting heart of the order.
"The biggest thing about this team is you can't let up when you get to the bottom of the lineup," he said. "As soon as you roll over the lineup, that's when you get into their power guys and they can do so much more with that. So you just have to try to keep guys off base."
Ortiz will have more time than usual to focus on pitching to the Angels, since he won't have to bat in the American League park.
"What I'll be doing is just thinking about the next hitter and just getting in my head from the very start that I'm not going to hit," he said. "I'd love to hit, but it's just not the case."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.