10/13/2003 9:34 PM ET
Notes: Dellucci gets his chance
BOSTON -- David Dellucci worked hard over the final month of the regular season to rehab his sprained left ankle, hoping to get his chance to help the Yankees in October. That chance came on Monday, as the 29-year-old got his first start of the 2003 playoffs.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Dellucci started in right field and batted ninth as the Yankees took on the Red Sox in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park. Dellucci has appeared in two games in the postseason, pinch-running once in each series. He scored a run in Game 2 against Boston on Thursday.
"I'm living every male's dream in America, playing for the New York Yankees in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox," Dellucci said. "I worked awfully hard in Florida to make it back for the postseason, so I'm excited. Hopefully I can help this team win."
Dellucci, who was traded to the Yankees in the July deal that sent Raul Mondesi to the Arizona Diamondbacks, had no idea when he got to the ballpark that he would be playing on Monday. When he saw his name on the lineup card, all of his hard work had become worth it.
"I've had a couple of hours to let it all digest and sink in," Dellucci said as the Yankees took batting practice. "It will be surreal until the first pitch is thrown, and that's when it's time to get my game face on."
Manager Joe Torre said that while Karim Garcia's left hand injury played some part in the decision, he may have started Dellucci against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield anyway. Garcia is 0-for-10 against Wakefield, while Dellucci has never faced the right-hander.
"I'm going to give Garcia another day. He's ready to play, I'm just putting in a guy who can play the outfield, is left-handed and can run a little bit," Torre said. "He's a patient hitter, and that's what you have to be against a knuckleballer."
Dellucci said that he had some success in the National League against Tom Candiotti, another knuckler.
"You don't know what the ball is going to do until the last minute, so the shorter the swing, the better chance you have to hit it," Dellucci said. "I have a short swing, so hopefully I'll be able to react quickly."
"My approach is to go up the middle, because when you try to pull the ball, you'll be early and roll on it," he added. "With a knuckleball, it's basically see the ball, hit the ball. I'm not going to be patient, I'm going to look for a pitch I like and try to hit it."
Dellucci has a World Series ring from his 2001 season with Arizona, but he's not sure that his previous postseason experience will come close to matching the atmosphere of Yankees-Red Sox.
"I remember being with Arizona in my first postseason -- I was nervous and had butterflies. Then I realized it was just a normal game, the season was just extended," Dellucci said. "But this is Boston and the Yankees, so I don't think any playoff experience can prepare you for this."
Rested Rivera: Mariano Rivera tossed the final two innings of Game 3, so the unscheduled day off the teams got due to Sunday night's rainout was beneficial for the Yankees' reliever.
Torre said that he hoped to be in the position to use Rivera for two innings in Game 4, though he acknowledged that with no off-day scheduled for the rest of the series, he will have to choose his spots wisely.
"After Mo pitched two innings, it's nice that we had an off-day yesterday," Torre said. "Hopefully we'll have two games in a row. If that's the case, we won't worry about it. If it goes past that, we'll have to pay attention to it."
Rivera has saved three games in the postseason, all two-inning performances. He also pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Game 2, which was a non-save situation. He has retired 21 of the 22 batters he has faced in the postseason, allowing just a single to Damian Jackson in Game 2.
"Right now, Mo is throwing as well as he has in his whole career. We are just kind of catching him at that time," said Boston manager Grady Little. "So our game plan is try to keep him out of the picture. We have to try and get a lead early and try to keep him from being a factor."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.