10/14/2003 5:38 PM ET
Garcia's return a hit for Yanks
Garcia's two-run single: 56K | 300K Audio
BOSTON -- It's safe to say that Karim Garcia's hand has healed up pretty well.
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Garcia was one of the Yankees involved in the on-field shenanigans early in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series and the off-field bullpen brouhaha late in the game.
Garcia was hit in the back by a Pedro Martinez pitch in the fourth inning Saturday, which fired him up enough to take out Boston second baseman Todd Walker with a hard slide.
After Garcia and Walker exchanged a few words and a few shoves, the benches emptied. That served as a preamble to Manny Ramirez's charging of Roger Clemens minutes later, causing the now-infamous Don Zimmer-Pedro confrontation.
Details of what happened in the bullpen in the ninth inning of Saturday's game have been sketchy at best, but what is known is that Garcia climbed the fence to enter a scuffle with Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson and a Red Sox grounds crew member and emerged with a gash on his left hand.
The injury kept him out of Game 4 on Monday, but Yankees manager Joe Torre penciled him in as a last-minute replacement in right field for David Dellucci after liking what he saw from Garcia in batting practice.
"I was trying to impress him," said Garcia, who pumped two balls into the bullpen he had visited under such different circumstances two nights earlier.
"I was trying to hit the ball as hard as I could."
It was a good idea.
Garcia's first at-bat came with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning of a scoreless Game 5 that the Yankees had to win to avoid going back to New York facing elimination.
Garcia worked Sox starter Derek Lowe to a 2-and-1 count before slapping a single up the middle, right past Lowe's glove, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead that they would increase to 3-0 a batter later on an Alfonso Soriano single.
Garcia drove in his second and third runs of the series, giving him as many RBIs in this year's ALCS at that point as teammates Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams combined.
"I was very happy," Garcia said. "You know, getting the base hit up the middle and getting a couple runs in, because I had faced Lowe before and he's a pretty tough pitcher. I tried to concentrate. With a sinkerball pitcher like he is, getting a hit to put the team ahead, I think that was great for me."
So did Yankees starter David Wells, who got the win with seven one-run innings.
"He's getting an opportunity to play here in the postseason," Wells said. "He's just making the best of it and I couldn't be happier for that guy. He's going out there, he's a team player, he doesn't give up. To get that key hit, he's focused, he's locked in."
Wells isn't the only one who's noticed.
"That was huge," Jeter said. "With two outs, hits are hard to come by, especially in the postseason. He's pretty good at blocking out stuff and focusing and he came through for us there."
Torre started right-handed hitter Juan Rivera in the outfield for defensive purposes throughout the Yankees' AL Division Series win over the Minnesota Twins, but the left-handed Garcia might see more time if he continues his clutch hitting.
"His eyes lit up when I said, 'You're playing tonight,'" Torre said. "He thanked me, actually."
And Garcia paid him back once again. After the unfortunate incidents of Game 3, Garcia said he was relieved to have his name associated with something other than off-field exploits.
"I hope that they don't remember about what happened in the game over here," Garcia said. "The important thing over here is tomorrow to play baseball.
"That's what we're trying to do now. To win games to go to the next level."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This column was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.