SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Giants might have preferred winning the World Series with a four-game sweep, but the fact the series will go at least six games could actually help them retain free-agent second baseman Jeff Kent.
Giants owner Peter Magowan said yesterday that the team's playoff revenue would have been about $3 million had the World Series ended after four games.
If it goes seven games, that amount will be closer to $9 million, he said, describing a scale that escalates as television ratings increase toward the end of a long series.
Magowan said that money will go directly toward next year's payroll. So a harder-fought series with the Angels means a better chance of keeping Kent? "In a strange way, that's right," Magowan said.
The Orioles, who are looking to add a big bat to the middle of their lineup, are one of several potential suitors for Kent, who hit 37 home runs this season and made $6 million in the final year of a four-year contract.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean said the club probably won't be able to sign Kent in the 15-day window after the series when teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents.
Kent has said he will test the market, which doesn't necessarily mean he will leave.
"If I was Jeff, and I'd had all the success he's had here, I would think this would be a pretty good place to be," Magowan said. "That'll be a decision for him to make."
Decision time close
Magowan altered his timeline slightly to make a decision on retaining manager Dusty Baker. He reiterated that he will have a decision on Sabean within one or two days after the series and said the decision on Baker will take a week to 10 days.
Last weekend in Anaheim, Sabean said the Baker decision would only take a week.
"Maybe this isn't the end with Dusty Baker the way everybody writes that it is," Magowan said.
"It's gone to the end of the season before and he's stayed."
Looking back at World Series history, when a series has been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 is 11-26 in Game 6, a statistic that suggests this one could be headed for seven games.
Angels starter Ramon Ortiz has been bothered by tendinitis in his right wrist, but club officials say he'll be ready to go if the series reaches a climactic seventh game.
Ortiz said after his Game 3 start that his wrist was "tight."
But X-rays revealed no structural damage. He also experienced soreness in his forearm during the final two months of the regular season, but it didn't seem to affect his performance on the mound.
He was 6-0 with a 2.77 ERA in his past nine regular-season starts.
He is 2-0 in the postseason, but has surrendered 13 runs in his 13 innings of work.
"It a little tendinitis," said general manager Bill Stoneman. "It's something that he has had on and off during the last part of the season, but he finished the season very well."
Stoneman deserves a lot of credit for upgrading the Angels' pitching staff and building a winning roster, but he gave the credit for the success of relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to his predecessor. How often do you hear that?
"Billy Bavasi and [former scouting director] Bob Fontaine found Frankie Rodriguez," Stoneman said yesterday. "If they don't find him, our bullpen would not be what it is right now."
Bonds having fun
Barry Bonds insists he's having a good time during this postseason, even if his demeanor indicates otherwise.
"Barry says something, he means what he says," said Baker.
"Lots of times, that's what gets him in trouble with people. He'll say what's on his mind. He's not going to say he's having fun if he's not. Around the batting cages he seems loose, but he's focused.
"Barry was happy as heck after it was decided we'd come to the World Series, but a lot of people said he seemed very stoic and distant. But who knows what is going on inside Barry? Yeah, I believe he's having fun. It's hard not to have fun when you're hitting balls halfway to the moon."
Bonds, A-Rod honored
Bonds and the Texas Rangers' Alex Rodriguez have been named winners of the 2002 Hank Aaron awards, which are given each year to the outstanding hitter in each league.
Baker's 3-year-old son was nearly run down at home plate during the Giants' big seventh inning last night.
Darren Baker has been acting as one of the Giants' batboys, and he rushed to home plate to retrieve the bat after Kenny Lofton tripled off the right field wall. Trouble was, a couple of Giants base runners were sprinting home and the tiny Giant nearly got trampled.
J.T. Snow reacted quickly and plucked him off the ground, carrying him off the field in what turned out to be a poignant TV moment that was replayed several times.