10/23/2002 7:45 pm ET
MLBeat: Bullpen the topic du jour
By Josh Rawitch / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than 24 hours after the Giants had to use four relievers, including one who took a line drive off his pitching elbow, the team's bullpen is still in decent shape, according to manager Dusty Baker.
"It could be better," he said. "But that's what [Tuesday] night's game was really -- trying to win the game, damage control against them and also try to preserve ... the bullpen for these two games at home here before our off day."
Jay Witasick, who suffered a contusion to the outer part of his right elbow when Adam Kennedy's line drive hit him square on the bone, was available to pitch in Game 4.
"My concern really was not really whether he could pitch to the next guy or two guys," said head trainer Stan Conte, "but whether or not they wanted him to come back out the next inning because I knew it would stiffen up, which it did."
Conte also denied a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that closer Robb Nen is having trouble warming up in the bullpen.
"There's nothing happening," he said. "He is fine. He's ready. He's been available. Nothing has changed. He's warming up the same way, at the same time. He's available at the same time. He's able to pitch as much as he's pitched before and ... every time Nen has pitched it's
been because it's a baseball decision.
"We have not put any restrictions on any player on the roster in regards to how much they play or when they can or can't pitch."
Baker downplayed any stiffness as well, saying that it is far from rare in October.
"You go over and touch the back of anybody's arm or elbow and everybody's going to have some soreness this time of year," he said. "I don't care who you are. ... It's not bothering him. We've just got to give him more time to get loose."
Nen pitched the ninth inning Wednesday night to earn his Major League-best seventh save this postseason while posting a 1.13 ERA.
When asked if the issue was blown out of proportion or whether he was really feeling any pain, Nen stated the obvious.
"Did it look like it tonight?" he said. "It feels as good as it's going to feel this time of year. I have pitched in nine out of 14 playoffs games. ... I should be stiff or sore. I've thrown close to 90 games. That happens."
Rotation rumblings: With his poor performance in Game 3, it's hard to believe the Giants would still feel as confident having Livan Hernandez pitch in Game 7, if the need arises. Though the right-hander earned World Series MVP honors in 1997, he has been the team's most inconsistent starter this season and tied for the league lead in losses.
"Ain't nothing set in stone," said Baker when asked if Hernandez would definitely start a do-or-die seventh game. "Let's see how these other games go. I still like Livan in Game 7. What are we going to do, start somebody else on three-days' rest? Let's worry about Game 4 before
We have contact: While the Angels have pounded out hit after hit during the World Series, many Giants players and coaches believe that the key has been simply putting the ball in play. The Angels have struck out only 61 times in the postseason, an average of 4.7 times per game after leading the Major Leagues with the least amount of strikeouts (805) by more than 100 in the regular season.
Baker was asked if there was any team during his playing days that the Angels reminded him of, and his best comparison was the St. Louis Cardinals of the mid-1980s. The '85 edition fanned 853 times while the '88 team struck out just 827 times.
But don't get too excited -- none of these teams came remotely close to breaking the single-season mark for fewest whiffs set by the 1921 Cincinnati Reds, who struck out just 308 times in a 153-game season.
Said Baker: "In modern times, the strikeout has become something that's not an embarrassment anymore, basically."
You make the call: Tim Salmon's ground ball to David Bell in the third inning of Game 3 was ruled an error, much to the chagrin of his infield mate, Rich Aurilia.
"They rule everything an error here so that doesn't really surprise me too much," he said. "That ball almost took his head off. ... You can't really do anything about bad hops."
Of course, at the time Aurilia made the comment he was unaware that during the World Series there is a three-person official scoring team made up of the regular scorer, the president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and the local chapter chairman of the BBWAA.
Josh Rawitch 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.