10/04/2003 11:35 AM ET
Alou shuffles the deck for Game 4
Hammonds, Torrealba start for Cruz, Santiago
MIAMI -- Rookie Jerome Williams remaining as Saturday's starting pitcher wasn't the only surprise dropped by Giants manager Felipe Alou the morning before Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Marlins. Alou also announced that Jeffrey Hammonds would be replacing Jose Cruz Jr. in right field and that Yorvit Torrealba was getting the starting nod at catcher over veteran Benito Santiago.
Alou explained that after Santiago caught eight innings of Friday's 11-inning loss to Florida, and with Sunday's potential Game 5 a day game after a cross-country flight, he wanted to preserve the 38-year-old catcher for that possible series ender.
"There's no secret about Jason Schmidt [Sunday's scheduled starter] liking to pitch to Benny," said Alou. "I mean, that's something that's been here before I got here. ... To catch back-to-back is really tough for a guy Benny's age, to catch a day game after a night game, because yesterday's game became a night game because of extra innings and everything.
"If there is a game tomorrow, with all the jet lag and a coast-to-coast flight, Benny's going to catch that game," he added. "I know the level of experience is not the same with a couple of young guys -- one on the mound, one behind the plate -- but then you gotta play under the elements that are out there. You gotta play those things, you gotta manage those things. I don't want to kill Benny the last two days of the season. And that's the way it is. We have a fresher guy behind the plate, and if we win today, Benny is catching tomorrow."
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
Santiago is 2-for-10 with a walk in the first three games of the Division Series. In Game 3 he singled in the eighth inning and was pulled for a speedier pinch-runner, Neifi Perez, with Torrealba taking over behind the plate.
During the regular season, Santiago batted .280 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs in 108 games. Torrealba played in 66 games, hitting .260 with four homers and 29 RBIs. He also threw out 38.9 percent of runners attempting to steal (14 of 36), which would have been good for second in the National League if Torrealba had enough games to qualify.
Cruz is 0-for-10 in the series, with a pair of walks and four strikeouts. He received credit for an RBI on Saturday when he hit into a potential double play with the bases loaded but beat the throw to first, allowing a run to score.
"He's not swinging the bat well," said Alou of Cruz. "There are a lot of guys who really want to get in there and do something to contribute. I hate to lose or whatever and not have a guy like Hammonds start a game. I know Neifi Perez, for example, has to start a game, but he played a number of innings last night and he pinch-hit a couple of times. I just want to get a fresh guy there."
Hammonds, signed as a minor league free agent after being released by the Brewers on June 4, batted .277 in 36 games with the Giants, becoming a key member of Alou's bench. He made six of his 11 starts this year when Barry Bonds was on the bereavement list following the death of his father, going 6-for-21 (.286) with six runs, two doubles, a homer, three RBIs and four walks in that stretch.
"I wanted to go out there and do my thing," said Cruz. "But Felipe knows what he's doing, has his own motives and ideas. I don't know what they are. We haven't spoken. But I'm sure I'll be out there soon."
With the Giants holding a one-run lead in the 11th inning Saturday night, Cruz saw a routine fly ball hit his glove and clank out to start the bottom of the frame, opening the door for the Marlins' game-winning rally.
After the game, Cruz said he simply dropped the ball.
"You just move on, I guess," he said. "Stuff that doesn't [normally] happen, now it's definitely magnified more than normal, so keep going."
Alou said that he talked to the team for about two minutes after the game, but not to Cruz personally, because when Alou was a player, he never wanted anyone to say anything to him about bad plays.
"I'm pretty sure everybody knows where we are today, Cruz included," said Alou. "And what we have to do, we have to win today. Otherwise this thing is over for us until, hopefully, next year. But ... once a game like that is lost, extra innings, you have to bounce back today.
"To me, the best thing is to leave the guy alone and just include everybody in the talk, because we lost. Cruz didn't lose, we lost, the team lost."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.