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Angels show faith in rookie for finale

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Angels are sending 24-year-old rookie John Lackey to the mound to start tonight's seventh game, and they say they couldn't be more confident about it.

"I think if you look at a pitcher's production, I think there's a sum total of things that go into it. Sometimes it's experience, sometimes it's incredible talent, sometimes it's your makeup. But the bottom line is, how are you throwing the ball? Are you getting outs?" manager Mike Scioscia said.

"If John Lackey is going to be considered for Game 7, there's absolutely nobody that we would have more confidence in to give the ball to. He's a rookie, but he's executing pitches, he's getting guys out, he's got the makeup. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for with talent and the ability to execute pitches."

Lackey pitched 21/3 innings in relief in Game 2 and five innings in his Game 4 start, allowing five runs and 11 hits.

The Angels were going to start Ramon Ortiz, but he is bothered by a sore wrist and they are concerned with how long he'd be able to pitch.

The Giants are planning to go with Livan Hernandez, who was 6-0 in eight postseason appearances until losing Game 3, and will have Kirk Rueter ready if needed.

* * *

TOO SOON: If Mike Scioscia had felt differently five years ago, he likely would not have been managing the Angels in the World Series and the Devil Rays might not be hiring Lou Piniella on Monday.

In October 1997, Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar wanted to talk to Scioscia about becoming the Rays' first manager.

But Scioscia declined, opting to stay with the Dodgers as bench coach. He went to Triple-A Albuquerque to manage in 1999, then was hired by the Angels for the 2000 season.

"What I told Chuck was that I thought I needed to gain more experience and I felt what was best for me was to stay in a coaching role," Scioscia said.

"It's a tough decision not to follow through with a major-league job because they don't come around every day. It worked out because I did eventually get another opportunity, but it could have gone the other way."

SPREAD THE WEALTH: Giants infielders have hit seven home runs, two more than any infield in a previous Series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the third time all four members of an infield homered in a Series, joining the '87 Twins (Kent Hrbek, Steve Lombardozzi, Greg Gagne and Gary Gaetti) and '01 Yankees (Tino Martinez, Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano and Scott Brosius).

MISCELLANY: This will be the 35th time a Series has gone to seven games. ... The fourth-inning walk to Barry Bonds was his 12th of the Series, breaking the record held by Babe Ruth (1926) and Gene Tenace (1973). Bonds is hitting .500 (7-for-14), has a .731 on-base percentage (reaching 19 of 26 times) and a 1.500 slugging percentage. ... Giants manager Dusty Baker is trying to become the 28th person to win a Series as a player and manager. The last to do so? Piniella, who won with the Yankees in 1977-78 and managed the Reds in 1990. ... Giants rightfielder Reggie Sanders, a Diamondback in 2001, is trying to become the sixth player to win championships in consecutive seasons with different teams. The last? Jack Morris, with the Twins in 1991 and the Blue Jays in 1992.

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