10/20/2002 7:35 pm ET
MLBeat: Giants getting great relief
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It only seems like Tim Worrell, Felix Rodriguez and Robb Nen have pitched in every single playoff game. They've each actually missed three.
That trio posted 3 1/3 hitless innings of relief in Game 1 of the World Series and rest assured that if the second game is as close as the first, they'll be out there again. In 24 1/3 combined innings in the postseason, they are 2-0 with a 2.59 ERA.
"We've got some mentally strong guys in the bullpen," said Game 1 starter Jason Schmidt, the beneficiary of Saturday night's hitless effort. "Tim Worrell has been unbelievable. He's got outstanding control. He can throw three pitches anywhere he wants. When you can do that, you see what happened."
Worrell is the only one of the three who has even been touched up during the postseason, but take away his rough outing in Game 3 of the NLDS and the trio has allowed just four earned runs in 24 postseason innings.
"I'm only in for an inning or two innings tops," said Worrell, who has not been scored upon in his last four playoff appearances. "Maybe this is why the bullpen fit me so much better than starting, but I don't think I ever go out there and not bear down on every [pitch] because I might be out there for one batter."
Worrell was third in the National League this year with a career-high 80 relief appearances and his work has not gone unnoticed by Giants brass. In fact, general manager Brian Sabean said before the World Series began that of all the recent moves he has made, the one that has been most surprising was his acquisition of Worrell for Bill Mueller in Nov., 2000.
"Tim Worrell's ability to take the ball and his relative consistent effort over the last two years has been amazing," said Sabean. "He wasn't a 'known commodity' to be classified as a preeminent set-up guy, but to see how he's taken control ... is a credit to him.
"He's been a pleasant surprise and has really impacted how we finish games."
The reality is, Worrell's move to the set-up spot when Rodriguez was struggling was one of the key changes made by manager Dusty Baker during the season. Now that Rodriguez has rebounded and dominated down the stretch, the duo seems to get the ball to Nen on a nightly basis, often creating a six-inning game for Giants' starting pitchers.
"There's so much depth, you've got guys who can do everything," said Nen, who has half a dozen saves in the playoffs. "Any time you can mix and match the way we do down there, Dusty can use the bullpen the way he can, it makes it easier for us."
Said Baker, "Just like Yogi Berra said, 'If you don't have a bullpen, you don't have nothing."
High School Reunion: Game 2 starter Russ Ortiz missed his 10-year reunion this year because he was pitching in the big leagues. Sunday night, he'll get the chance to face his former Montclair Prep teammate, Brad Fullmer. The duo got a chance to chat before Game 1, but it was hardly a deep conversation.
"I think the first thing he said was, 'Man, there's a lot of news about this,'" said Ortiz of the story that's made national headlines. "He was hitting (in batting practice) so it was kind of hard talking too much to him. ... After the National Anthem and all that stuff, we kind of tipped our cap to each other."
More monkey business: Baker revealed before the game that long before the Anaheim series started, including continuous banter about the Rally Monkey, he began listening to Jamaican poet/musician, Mutabaruka. The self-appointed "Jamaican Voice of the People," released an album this year with a song on it titled "The Monkey."
"I think the [Rally] Monkey's getting too much credit," said Baker before playing the tune for the Bay Area beat reporters. "It's a great job by the marketing department ... I see monkeys being sold on the side of the road."
Josh Rawitch is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.