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Casey Probably Out for the Series

October 12, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND — Sean Casey's American League Championship Series is probably over after the Detroit Tigers first baseman suffered a partial tear in a muscle in his left calf in Game 1.

"The trainers, I think, are hoping for a miracle when they say he could return by the end of this series," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. "But I think that's probably not going to happen. So I think we'll just have to do with what we have."

Which, at least for Game 2, was shortstop Carlos Guillen moving to first base, utility player Neifi Perez starting at shortstop and batting second, and light-hitting Placido Polanco moving from the second spot to third, where Casey hit.

Though Casey is not a middle-of-the-order masher like Vladimir Guerrero or Albert Pujols -- he had only eight home runs and 59 runs batted in this season -- he leaves a considerable void.

"Obviously when you lose your No. 3 hitter, it changes a lot of things," Leyland said. "But Neifi, he can bunt, he can hit and run, he can do some things."

Guillen started only four games at first this season, and he misplayed the only ball hit to him there Tuesday night, bobbling Jason Kendall's squibber for an error. But he was hardly fazed by the switch.

"To me, it's easy," Guillen said. "I don't feel it's too hard. Shortstop is hard. When you play shortstop, you can play everywhere."

Though Ramon Santiago entered at shortstop after Casey got hurt Tuesday, Leyland opted for Perez, a 33-year-old veteran who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 20, in Game 2.

"Is it an ideal situation? No, it's not," Leyland said. "But I remind everybody that the Oakland A's just lost their double-play combination, so we're certainly not looking for any sympathy, nor do we expect any."

The A's are playing the ALCS without injured shortstop Bobby Crosby, who missed most of the second half, and second baseman Mark Ellis, who suffered a broken finger in the division series.


Lou Piniella never managed Cory Lidle, but when he heard Lidle died in a New York plane crash Tuesday, the memories -- of Thurman Munson -- came flooding back. Piniella was a teammate of the popular New York Yankees catcher who was killed while piloting a plane Aug. 2, 1979.

"I'll never forget it; I was home in New Jersey, it was an off day, I was in the pool and it was my wife's birthday," said Piniella, who is providing color commentary for Fox's broadcast of the ALCS. "I got a call from Mr. Steinbrenner, who said that Thurman had passed away. I couldn't believe it. I flew with Thurman a lot.

"When you see something like this, it's shocking. We lived it firsthand in New York. ... It gives you a little bit of a flashback. The circumstances are different, but it's the same sad ending."

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