Zito at ease about pitching at Metrodome

A's pitcher had struggled in his career at Minnesota until good outing Sept. 8

Twins-Athletics notebook


October 03, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - Barry Zito was spooked.

In his first two career starts at the Metrodome, Zito went 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA.

But he'll head into tomorrow's start for the Oakland Athletics, in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, feeling more at ease.

On Sept. 8, Zito took the mound at the Metrodome and blanked the Twins for seven innings on three hits, as Oakland claimed a 6-0 victory.

"When you have a bad outing in a certain place, until you get over it, you have ghosts," Zito said. "And then once you do, the mind-set is forever gone. And that was the only place I had a little hesitancy."

Zito's answers are refreshingly enlightening.

Asked about his confidence level coming off a season that saw him go 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA, Zito offered a glimpse into his unique 24-year-old mind.

"A lot of times you look at a guy having a good year, and you go, `Oh, wow, this guy must be locked in.' But inside the pitcher's head, it's fleeting.

"The thoughts are volatile, and you are not going out there every day like, `I am the man.'

"You really have to work on it on a daily basis to keep that mind-set the way it is. In the offseason, it would be nice to come back and look at what happened this year - that was great. But right now, I just have to look at it like I'm making my 36th start."

Saenz undergoes surgery

A's infielder Olmedo Saenz, who ruptured his right Achilles' tendon in Game 1, underwent surgery yesterday, and his projected length of recovery remained uncertain.

Saenz missed most of the 1997 season after tearing his left Achilles'.

Under playoff rules, teams can't replaced injured players on their 25-man roster unless they advance to the next round. So the injury left the A's with 14 position players. Saenz was their best right-handed bat off the bench, and now their three choices are Randy Velarde, Eric Byrnes and Adam Piatt.

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