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TWIN NOTES

Gardenhire Considering Right Move

October 11, 2002|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Disappointed in rookie right fielder Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Manager Ron Gardenhire might make a lineup change tonight for Game 3 of the American League championship series.

Cuddyer misplayed two balls Wednesday at the Metrodome, contributing to a 6-3 loss to the Angels that evened the best-of-seven series, 1-1, and prompting Gardenhire to consider his options.

"I was a little disappointed," the first-year manager said at Thursday's workout. "Whether he lost them in the ceiling or whatever, I thought he looked a little tentative, so I'm thinking about that one.

"I've got a couple of other guys out there that need some playing time and should get in there. I can go that way."

Dustan Mohr is considered the Twins' best defensive right fielder. Switch-hitter Bobby Kielty is another candidate, but using him in that role would reduce Gardenhire's pinch-hitting options, weakening the bench.

Regardless, it appears Cuddyer could be the odd man out at the moment.

"This kid's played very well for us during the course of the playoffs and hit the ball very well for us," Gardenhire said of the club's 1997 first-round draft choice. "But like I said, I wasn't happy with the tentativeness that he chased those balls with."

In the Angels' three-run second, Cuddyer was hesitant on Scott Spiezio's run-scoring double inches inside the right-field line. He also got a late break on Troy Glaus' one-out triple to right in the sixth, which was followed by Brad Fullmer's two-run home run.

"I wasn't happy with the way he attacked them," Gardenhire said. "I'm worried about that a little bit."

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The Twins have plans for the Rally Monkey.

"We're going to kidnap that little monkey," center fielder Torii Hunter said, jokingly. "You know how they kidnap mascots? I'm going to kidnap that monkey. I'm going to kidnap him so I can learn from him. If we can just get a hold of that monkey, I think we've got a chance."

The Rally Monkey is a source of amusement in the Minnesota clubhouse, as well as throughout baseball, and Hunter finds the gimmick especially funny.

"I don't know about the other guys but I like the Rally Monkey; he's cool," Hunter said. "I wish I could meet him and get his autograph.

"There was one time when he put the jinx on us ... he's the truth. And he's a ladies' monkey too. The Homer Hankie is powerful, but the monkey is alive."

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The Metrodome's hard artificial surface, fielder-unfriendly roof and noisy fans helped the Twins go 8-0 there in winning World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.

Those clubs were 0-6 on the road in the World Series, but this edition enjoys life outside, going 2-1 at Network Associates Coliseum in upsetting the Oakland Athletics in the best-of-five division series.

The AL Central champions are 2-2 in the postseason at the Metrodome.

"We have a lot of confidence no matter where we play," said right-hander Brad Radke, scheduled to start Game 4. "It's nice to play at home, but we haven't really played that well at home yet in the playoffs.

"We did play some good games on the road in Oakland. We went up there and did a good job, and hopefully we'll play some more good road games here."

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Backup catcher Tom Prince was with the Dodgers when they were swept in the 1995 and '96 National League division series by the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves, respectively.

"We had good clubs with the Dodgers," said Prince, who joined the Twins last season and batted .224 in 51 games this season, "but things just didn't work out."

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