MINNEAPOLIS — Erickson says he'll pitch his game, not Avery's
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins right-hander Scott Erickson watched on television as Steve Avery shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates for 16 1/3 innings in the playoffs, but he said yesterday that he won't try to overcompensate for his overpowering opponent.
"I can't really worry about what he has done," Erickson said. "I've got to go out there and do the best I can. That's all I can ask of myself and myteammates. If I go out there and worry about how well he's pitching, I'll be causing myself more problems."
Erickson appeared to have a lot on his mind when he survived a shaky start against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ALCS, but he claims that he did not let his emotions get away from him.
"I wasn't nervous at all, actually," he said. "I felt comfortable and confident. My arm felt great. I was just cutting it loose. If you want to call that nervousness, you can, but I don't feel that way."
Nevertheless, he struggled with his control, walking five and giving up three hits during a four-inning performance in the Twins' 3-2 extra-inning victory in Game 3. He'll face the same situation tomorrow, taking the mound in his club's first road game of the Series. Braves fans figure to be a little more animated than the docile fans in Toronto.
"I've seen them a couple of times and I'm looking forward to it," Erickson said. "It's always fun to get the crowd into it and have a lot of excitement in the air. I think it will work as a positive for me."
Leibrandt will start again
Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone told reporters yesterday that the team will not bring Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and John Smoltz back on three days' rest for Games 5, 6 and 7.
That means that Charlie Leibrandt, who was knocked out of Saturday night's game after four innings, would be the starter in Game 5 and Smoltz only will make one start in the Series.
There had been speculation that Leibrandt would not come back he did not pitch well in Game 1, but the Braves seem intent on leaving the regular-season starting rotation intact.
Gladden responds to critics
Twins outfielder Dan Gladden was surprised to hear that broadcasters Tim McCarver and Johnny Bench had ripped him for his hard slide in the fifth inning of Game 1.
Gladden had tagged up late on a line drive to left by Brian Harper and was thrown out at the plate. McCarver referred to his slide into catcher Greg Olson as "dirty pool."
"I didn't think it was dirty at all," Gladden said. "It was a good hard slide. I guess you have to figure. They [McCarver and Bench] are both ex-catchers."
Esasky tries new approach
Braves first baseman Nick Esasky, who has missed most of the past two seasons with vertigo, is using a mouthpiece to re-align his jaw in hopes that it will help correct the problem. But he still needs to show dramatic improvement if he is to resume his playing career.
Esasky is learning to deal with the illness, but one of the hardest things is making other people understand what he is going through.
"It's hard to explain to people," he said, "because it's hard to understand if you haven't been through it. I know what I have, and the people who need to know, they know what kind of person I am."
Vincent's daughter beaned
The 25-year-old daughter of Commissioner Fay Vincent was hit on the head by a foul ball during Game 1, in front of a national television audience .
Anne Vincent was not seriously hurt when the pop foul off the bat of Kent Hrbek hit her squarely on the head, but she was a little embarrassed by the incident.
"She was very embarrassed," Vincent said. "I told her that the Vincents are renowned for being hard-headed, but she didn't have to show it in public."
Country and western singer Charlie Pride sang the national anthem. The first ball was thrown out by American League president Bobby Brown. . . . The home team has won 19 of the past 25 World Series games, dating back to Game 5 of the 1986 Series. . . . The Twins' bullpen has a string of 26 1/3 postseason innings without having allowed an earned run, dating back to Game 6 of the 1987 World Series.
Palermo moving forward
Umpire Steve Palermo said that he already has progressed further in his recovery from a spinal cord injury than many of his doctors predicted, but he still has a long way to go to regenerate the nerves that control his left leg.
Palermo, who was shot while aiding a robbery victim in Arlington, Texas, threw out the first ball for Game 1 and also attended the second game of the World Series before returning to the Dallas area to continue his rehabilitation.
"I'm not trying to prove anyone wrong," he said. "But if I don't do it for me, I'm going to do it for all the people who called and wrote to me. When I can't sleep at night because I can't move my leg, I turn on the lights and the cards and the signs are plastered all over the wall.
"Never admit defeat. There are difficult things in life and there are impossible things. The impossible will take a little longer."
When Palermo threw out the first ball in Game 1, he chose Twins utilityman Al Newman to be the catcher.
"He's what baseball is all about," Palermo said. "He comes to the ballpark with a smile on his face. He's great to have on a team and great to have on the field. I like to think that I exemplify some of the same things."
Palermo said it was more of a courtesy to Twins catcher Brian Harper than a slight.
"It wasn't a slight at Brian at all," he said. "He was getting prepared to play. I know what that's all about. That's why we [the umpires] come to the ballpark an hour and a half before the game. I didn't want to detract from that."