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American League Division Series / Boston vs. Oakland
| REPORT

Zito's New Style Somewhat Fuzzy

October 02, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND — It's the Knuckleball vs. the Screwball today in Game 2.

That would be Tim Wakefield, Boston's flutterballer, against Barry Zito, the offbeat Zen dude of the A's.

Zito, last year's Cy Young Award winner when he was 23-5, slipped to 14-12 this season, but batters hit only .219 against him and he was 3-1 in September. To psyche himself up for the postseason, he has grown a beard.

"It's not itchy now, it's soft," he said. "Maybe the ladies will like it."

Zito says he has been growing his beard for only four days, but added, "Man, it seems like four weeks. I'll grow up someday."

Wakefield, 37, is 12 years older than Zito and is hoping that his experience will pay off. Red Sox Manager Grady Little switched Wakefield with Derek Lowe so Wakefield would pitch at the Coliseum.

"I know I'm a fly-ball pitcher," Wakefield said. "I think that's the reason I'm pitching Game 2 and not Game 3. For me, personally, it doesn't even matter."

Wakefield, who won two of his last three starts, was 11-7 during the season.

As he usually does when Wakefield pitches, Doug Mirabelli comes off the bench to catch instead of Jason Varitek.

*

The Red Sox made one somewhat unexpected move for this series, putting 26-year-old right-hander Bronson Arroyo on the 25-player roster.

Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from Pittsburgh during the off-season, was the most valuable pitcher in the International League and with Pawtucket on Aug. 10 threw a nine-inning perfect game against Buffalo.

Little left veterans Jeff Suppan, Ramiro Mendoza and Todd Jones on the sidelines in favor of Arroyo. The Red Sox have 10 pitchers available this series.

"By going with 10 pitchers, we feel this fills a need we have in a series like this first one," Little said.

*

A's Manager Ken Macha kept 11 pitchers but didn't put shortstop Bobby Crosby on the roster, which means Frank Menechino is the only backup infielder.

The A's are making their 22nd appearance in the postseason, 14 of them as the Oakland A's. The New York Yankees are the only team with more -- 43. The A's also have nine World Series championships (four in Oakland), second only to the Yankees' 26.

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