Saenz ruptures Achillles'

Key reserve for Oakland was running out foul ball

Twins-A's notebook

Baseball

October 02, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Besides losing Game 1 of their Division Series against the underdog Minnesota Twins, the Oakland Athletics also lost a valuable member of their bench.

Olmedo Saenz ruptured his right Achilles' tendon while running out a foul ball in the eighth inning and left the game immediately, with Randy Velarde coming in to finish the at-bat.

The right-handed-hitting Saenz hit .276 with six home runs this season in 68 games. He tied for the team lead with five pinch hits. He had a three-run homer off New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens in Game 4 of the 2000 Division Series, leading Oakland to an 11-1 victory.

Yesterday, Saenz came off the bench in the sixth inning to hit for Scott Hatteberg with a runner on second base and drew a walk.

"It obviously limits our right-handed bats," A's manager Art Howe said. "It's a shame, too, a foul ball on top of it. But, you know, he was hustling down the line. He said he felt something pop, and it was his Achilles'."

Puckett visits Twins

Hall of Fame center fielder Kirby Puckett and former left fielder Dan Gladden, who helped the Twins win the World Series in 1987 and 1991, addressed the team in the clubhouse before yesterday's game.

"They say we don't have any experience in the playoffs," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "so I thought I'd bring some in."

Oakland left fielder David Justice entered this series with 107 games of playoff experience, more than three times as much as the entire Minnesota team. The Twins have Mike Jackson (27 games) and Rick Reed (five games). Tom Prince was on the Los Angeles Dodgers' playoff roster in 1996 but did not play.

Mulder's turn

When Howe decided to go with a three-man starting rotation, he did so knowing Mark Mulder would be in line to pitch Game 5, if necessary. Mulder took the loss in the decisive fifth game of last year's Division Series against the Yankees, but he welcomes the challenge.

Mulder went 1-1 against the Yankees last postseason, winning Game 1 and losing Game 5 after allowing a pair of unearned runs in New York's 5-3 victory.

"I would love to get another chance at that," said Mulder, who will start Game 2 today.

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