10/04/2003 11:17 AM ET
Notes: Alou on Williams
MIAMI -- It wasn't necessary, but Giants manager Felipe Alou talked to his team late Friday night after a nightmare 4-3 loss in Game 3 of the National League Division Series here.
By Rich Draper / MLB.com
A brief pep talk, as it were, stressing the importance of Saturday's win-or-else Game 4 at Pro Player Stadium.
"It was a two-minutes type of talk, just to make sure that everybody knew where we were," said Alou. "I mean, I'm pretty sure everybody knows where we are today. Everybody was included.
"We have to win [Saturday], otherwise this thing is over for us until, hopefully, next year," he added.
So where are the Giants? On the brink of elimination, and Saturday's game and the immediate future depend on the young, vibrant arm -- and, hopefully, strong mind -- of 21-year-old Jerome Williams.
He's a kid. He's full of energy, a lot of it nervous. He's routinely jumpy and unfocused prior to games, but once he throws that first ball, his mind-set alters dramatically.
Tunnel vision. Do your thing, period, forget the hoopla and fan frenzy and the pressure, forget that this could be a memorable matchup of rookies featuring Bay Area native Dontrelle Willis and the puka-shell kid from Hawaii.
Alou and his staff decided late Friday night to go with the rookie instead of Game 1 victor Jason Schmidt, a Cy Young candidate who would have pitched on only three games' rest. Schmidt has chronic elbow problems, and he was declared not ready.
"Jerome is a guy who gave the Giants organization a tremendous lift this year," said Alou. "He came up from the minor leagues ... he's been very good. He's a fearless type of guy, good command of pitches and everything, a very intense competitor."
Will Williams be on a short leash, considering his experience? Alou has never let his pitchers run free, and says he will watch the rookie closely.
"It's going to be hot, and it's going to be intense. There's going to be a lot of people, going to be a lot of pressure."
Although Alou hinted over the past few days that Schmidt might pitch, indicated he was pushing for that, in the end he felt it was too risky, although trainer Stan Conte said "it was not a medical decision" to give Schmidt the extra rest.
"This is not his day to pitch," said Alou of the veteran. "And we've been giving him extra days this season because of that elbow. We're not talking about a guy who has been healthy all year. He has been nursing that elbow tenderness all summer."
Still, Williams didn't find out that he was definitely pitching until Saturday morning. Why? "Schmitty's name was floated around," said Alou.
Grissom steal: When Marquis Grissom attempted to steal third base in the seventh inning of Friday night's game with hot-hitting Edgardo Alfonzo at the plate, it was not with Alou's blessing.
Snow returns: J.T. Snow was back in the starting lineup on Saturday following Andres Galarraga's 0-for-4 effort in Game 3, in which the Big Cat stranded five runners.
Cruz comment: "It's over -- I'm over it," said Jose Cruz Jr. on Saturday of his dropped fly ball in the 11th inning of Friday's night's game, an error that was partly responsible for the Giants' 4-3 loss in Game 3.
Cruz was more disappointed at hearing that he wouldn't start Saturday's crucial Game 4, with the Giants on the brink of elimination. Alou said veteran Jeffrey Hammonds would play right field.
Said Alou: "I didn't say anything to Cruz [Friday night] because when I played this game, I dropped fly balls. ... [No one] came over to me to say anything, bad or good.
"Cruz didn't lose, you know. We lost. The team lost."
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.