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Scioscia Is the Angels' Designated Driver

With him at the helm, players say being without a designated hitter the next three games is not a handicap for their team.

October 22, 2002|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- Brad Fullmer and Shawn Wooten would rather stay busy, but the Angels can't change the World Series rules.

The designated hitter has been eliminated at Pacific Bell Park because pitchers hit at National League sites and Manager Mike Scioscia plans to keep the defense intact instead of making room for Fullmer or Wooten.

Matchups will determine the roles of Fullmer and Wooten in the next three games, though Scioscia believes they might get more opportunities than some envision. The Angels aren't complaining as the all-California World Series resumes tonight in Game 3, focusing on making the best of the situation.

"Of course you want to be out there playing every game but that's just not the way it works," Fullmer said. "This is the way they do it and I don't think anything is going to change for us.

"We knew the pitchers were going to hit when we played up here, so it's not like a surprise. They'll hit, we'll wait for a chance and be ready if it comes."

In nine games, Fullmer, who plays against right-handers, is batting .360 with a home run and five runs batted in. Wooten, who faces left-handers, is hitting .471 in seven games with a homer and three RBIs.

"The first thing you look at is you'll have a heck of a bench," Scioscia said. "Those guys are hopefully going to be a big part of it because they're two big bats that we're going to count on and get 'em in there whenever we can. You have to project matchups a little more than just waiting for them in the American League where it's a little easier to insert them at the right time.

"If you need some extra innings from your pitcher you're going to consider a double-switch; if not you can pinch-hit. That's how you have to approach it because the opportunities won't be as frequent with the pitchers hitting."

The pitchers on the Angels' World Series roster batted .063 in interleague games this season.

Left-hander Jarrod Washburn, scheduled to start Game 5 on Thursday, has a .357 career average in 14 at-bats and is easily the best of the bunch for the Angels.

Right-hander Ramon Ortiz is at the other end of the list, seeking his first hit in 14 career at-bats. Kevin Appier tops the staff with four RBIs. Giant starter Livan Hernandez brings a .242 career batting average -- with 18 doubles, four homers and 39 RBIs -- into Game 3.

"But we'll be all right because I get to hit and I'm always good," Washburn said, jokingly. "Any time you take guys like [Fullmer and Wooten] out of the lineup it hurts your team.

"I guess you could say it's a disadvantage for the American League team because [the NL] pitchers hit all year, but he [Scioscia] knows the National League game.

"It's not like we're not going to be prepared."

Scioscia was trained in that style of play, having spent most of his career in the Dodger organization, and scouts said the Angels are reflective of his background.

"The reason we're at where we're at is because we have a lot of National League in us," Wooten said.

"Small ball -- moving the runner over, hit-and-runs, sac bunts -- is going to play to our advantage, or more to our advantage than another American League team because of our manager.

"He's pretty much spent his entire career in the National League. He was a catcher, which is one of the toughest positions to play, and he really knows that side of it.

"The last two years, every time we played interleague series, he was really on his game with double-switches and everything."

Scioscia downplayed his background, saying it doesn't take a genius to adapt to the differences in the leagues.

"There's different strategy involved, obviously, because there's no DH, but it doesn't matter what you consider a manager's style, or my style, it's what the team can do, and our team is very versatile," he said.

"We have guys that can play some of the type of ball that might be more prevalent in the National League because of a pitcher having to hit.

"The most important thing is baserunning and we run the bases extremely aggressively. That's why I really don't look at it as so important as what [players] feel I know about the National League style, it's about what they can do. They've played well against National League clubs, we have a very balanced lineup and a versatile club, so we can kind of get some of the offensive matchups we're looking for."

Fullmer and Wooten are counting on it.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Pitchers at the Plate

*--* How American League pitchers have fared at the plate compared to their National League counterparts in the World Series the last 10 years: 1992 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Toronto 7 2 0 1 2 286 Atlanta 7 0 0 0 4 000 1993 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Toronto 8 1 1 0 3 125 Philadelphia 5 2 0 0 2 400 1995 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Atlanta 7 0 0 0 3 000 Cleveland 6 0 0 0 1 000 1996 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Yankees 9 1 0 0 3 111 Atlanta 5 1 0 0 3 000 1997 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Florida 5 0 0 0 1 000 Cleveland 8 2 1 2 2 250 1998 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Yankees 5 1 0 0 2 200 San Diego 4 2 0 0 0 500 1999 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Yankees 6 0 0 0 0 000 Atlanta 2 0 0 0 2 000 2000 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Yankees 8 0 0 0 4 000 Mets 5 1 0 0 1 200 2001 AB H XBH RBI SO Avg Arizona 13 1 0 1 7 077 Yankees 7 1 0 0 4 143 TOTALS AB H XBH RBI SO Avg AL 64 8 2 3 21 125 NL 47 7 0 1 23 149

*--*

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