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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS / AMERICAN LEAGUE | CHICAGO vs. SEATTLE
: NOTES

Bionic Eldred Left Off Chicago's Playoff Roster

October 04, 2000|Associated Press

Cal Eldred figured he'd finally get a chance to be in the playoffs in his first season with the Chicago White Sox.

After a 10-year career plagued by arm problems, he was willing to do just about anything--even pitch with a screw in his arm.

But Eldred's bionic-like comeback didn't quite make it. The veteran felt pain in his elbow on Monday when he was playing catch and was left off the roster submitted Tuesday before the start of Chicago's first-round series against Seattle.

"I knew it was going to be sore. The question was how quick could I bounce back," Eldred said. "I was surprised at how sore it was. I'm obviously disappointed. You feel the team is counting on you and you let the team down."

Eldred, who had elbow ligament replacement surgery in 1995 while with the Brewers, had a 5-inch stainless steel screw surgically implanted near his elbow on Sept. 7 to support a stress fracture.

After not pitching in the majors since mid-July, he came back last week and threw 3 1/3 effective innings against Boston, hoping that would allow him to be ready for the playoffs. But his elbow didn't respond without pain.

"Obviously what it needs is a little more rest," Eldred said, adding that the screw will be there as long he wants to try and pitch. "It's like putting reinforcement in concrete."

*

After making the most of their chances during the regular season, the White Sox fell victim to wasted opportunities in their playoff opener.

Chicago let its best chance to win slip away in the ninth. With the winning run on second and one out, Jose Valentin and Magglio Ordonez flied out, leaving the door open for Seattle to break through in the 10th to win, 7-4.

Four times, the White Sox advanced a runner to third with less than two outs. All four times, the major league's highest-scoring team failed to drive those runners in.

As a result, Chicago is still in search of its first postseason victory at home since 1959.

"We had the opportunities early to knock them out and we didn't," said Frank Thomas, who left the bases loaded in the fourth and stranded four runners.

"A lot of young guys made mistakes. Guys were keyed up. . . . I tried to do too much--trying to hit home runs when all you needed were singles."

Chicago Manager Jerry Manuel blamed playoff jitters in part for his young team's failure to deliver in the clutch. "We had some opportunities to really put the ballgame away and basically we just didn't get the job done," he said. " . . . But I think for the most part that we played a decent ballgame for our first game being in an atmosphere such as this, and I think we'll be fine. They made the key pitches at the right time . . . [and] we might have been little impatient in those situations. That's a part of the youth that we have."

Chicago had 133 errors in the regular season--fourth-most in the AL--but got unexpected standout defense, including Ray Durham's sparkling over-the-shoulder grab of Joe Oliver's fly to short right in the fourth.

THE SERIES

Game 1: Seattle 7, Chicago 4 (10 innings).

Today: Seattle (Abbott 9-7) at Chicago (Sirotka 15-10), 10 a.m., ESPN

Friday: Chicago (Baldwin 14-7) at Seattle (Sele 17-10), 1 p.m., ESPN

* Saturday: Chicago at Seattle, 1:15 p.m., Channel 11

* Sunday: Seattle at Chicago, TBA

* If necessary All times PDT

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