10/05/06 8:25 PM ET
Notes: Santana may get early nod
Gardenhire won't DH Redmond; Stewart makes the trip
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Whether the Twins choose to start him early or he remains the possible Game 5 starter at the Metrodome, Santana seems to be fine with either choice."Right now, if that's going to be the call to go on Saturday, I'll be fine," Santana said. "If not, I'll be ready for Game 5." Switch things up? The Twins' offensive struggles have been a big part of the reason they have fallen behind, 2-0, in the ALDS with the A's. Having gone 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position, Gardenhire knows that the offense needs to step up. "We need to come up with some big hits -- that's the obvious," Gardenhire said. "It's tough to do when you're in playoff baseball facing tough pitching. But we have to find a way." One change in the lineup that Gardenhire said he will not consider is using backup catcher Mike Redmond as the designated hitter. Redmond had one of the top batting averages for the Twins during the regular season, hitting .341 with 23 RBIs in 179 at-bats. During the season, the Twins often used Redmond and catcher Joe Mauer in the same game with one as a designated hitter. But while Gardenhire was willing at times to take that risk during the season, the same cannot be said for the playoffs.
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"This is not the time of the year that you use both catchers in the lineup," Gardenhire said. "Redmond is a great role player, but we're very happy with Jason Tyner as our designated hitter and the speed he gives us."Déjà vu: Big games at Oakland in the playoffs are nothing new for the Twins. Many of the players and coaches were reminded of a crucial Game 5 that the club played at the same ballpark during the 2002 ALDS. Facing a must-win situation with Brad Radke on the mound, the Twins were able to pull out a thrilling victory to advance to the ALCS. The hope is that with Radke back on the mound in another must-win situation, they'll get the same result. "Were we expected to beat the A's again then? No," Radke said. "Were we ever expected to win? No. We are always the underdog. And I think that's the way we like it." Loads of support: There were a few extra members to the Twins' traveling party to Oakland. Shannon Stewart made his first road trip with the club since being sidelined in mid-July with another slight tear in the plantar fascia of his left foot. Stewart said he was excited to be with the club and that he's considering having arthroscopic surgery on the foot during the offseason. Longtime Twins clubhouse attendant Wayne "Big Fella" Hattaway also made the trip. There had been questions as to whether Hattaway, 66, would be able to travel after having outpatient surgery to remove a cancerous growth last Thursday, but Hattaway said doctors gave him the go-ahead. Schedule alert: If Game 4 of the ALDS is played, it will start at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday in Oakland. Game 5 at the Metrodome has been tentatively scheduled for 3 p.m. CT, but it could be moved to 6:30 p.m. CT if both the Tigers-Yankees and Mets-Dodgers series are finished.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.