10/04/2004 11:12 PM ET
Notes: Three catchers on tap
Extra backstop allows for late-inning flexibility
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
|With Odalis Perez starting Game 1, Brent Mayne will be behind the plate Tuesday. (Jill Weisleder/Dodgers)
ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers' front office will wait until hours before game time on Tuesday to submit their roster for the National League Divisional Series, but manager Jim Tracy said it will likely include 10 pitchers and three catchers.
That's a departure from the personnel deployment of the regular season and is brought about by a variety of factors, among them: the lack of offense from catchers Brent Mayne and David Ross that requires late-inning pinch-hitting in their spots, the liberal spacing between games that allows Tracy to use a three-man starting rotation (Odalis Perez, Jeff Weaver and Jose Lima) and the flexibility that a third catcher provided as Tracy managed down the stretch in September.
When the Dodgers' roster is announced, it likely won't include Hideo Nomo, Kazuhisa Ishii or Edwin Jackson. While Tracy would not discuss who wouldn't be included on the roster, the third catcher would be Tom Wilson, who was acquired in August.
"It would be somewhat of a surprise if we don't [go with three catchers]," Tracy said.
Keeping Wilson would be at the expense of adding Antonio Perez for pinch-runner and pinch-hitting opportunities.
Regardless, it appears likely that Nomo, Ishii and Jackson will not participate in the Divisional Series against the Cardinals. However, rosters must be re-submitted for the League Championship Series and the World Series. Tracy said some players might make more sense in a seven-game series than in a five-game series. He would appear to be referring primarily to Ishii, who likely would have been the fourth starter if Tracy chose to use one.
As for the starting lineup in Game 1, Milton Bradley returns from his five-game suspension, and Tracy returns to the lineup he used through most of September, with Mayne catching Perez. Mayne caught Perez's last two starts, both eight impressive innings.
Shawn Green, who suffered a bad bruise fouling a pitch off his right ankle on Friday night, said it still looks bad but feels okay, and he took part in the off-day workout.
DePodesta's view: General manager Paul DePodesta, who turned over 10 players beginning in late March, said he started to think the Dodgers were for real when they rebounded from a six-game losing streak on June 21-26 that included a four-game sweep by the Giants in San Francisco and two losses to the Angels in Anaheim.
"We had fallen into third [place], we were three games over .500 and I started getting questions about dumping players," DePodesta said. "At that point, I give all the credit to the players. It would have been easy to just roll over. Instead, they dug in their heels and didn't let it happen. We got on a roll [winning 17 of 19 from July 3-24], and then I definitely thought we had a shot."
Rolaids relief repeat: Eric Gagne became the first repeat Rolaids Relief Man champion in more than a decade and Mariano Rivera won his third title in the last six years in leading the New York Yankees to a record fourth team crown as the 29th annual Rolaids Relief Man awards race came to an end on Sunday.
Gagne edged Jason Isringhausen of St. Louis, the Dodgers' first-round playoff opponent, and 2001 winner Armando Benitez of Florida by six points to repeat as National League champion, a feat not accomplished in either league since Lee Smith won back-to-back awards for St. Louis in 1991-92.
Rivera, who also won in 1999 and 2001, finished with a 20-point margin over runner-up Francisco Cordero of Texas in the American League. Behind the 34-year-old Panamanian closer, the Yankees edged St. Louis by three points, and Los Angeles by six, to win the Rolaids Team Bullpen crown for the fourth time.
Quotable: "I like the way he's playing defense. I've seen him play hurt, and he still kept his level of play up. You've got to be impressed because he hit well into the .300's and you've got the home run and RBI totals. That's as complete a hitter as you can find. He's getting base hits, not just 40-some home runs." -- Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa on Dodger MVP candidate Adrian Beltre
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.