Expect the unexpected

  • KIRBY ARNOLD / Herald Writer
  • Monday, October 2, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Ailing White Sox forced to retool vs. Mariners


Herald Writer

CHICAGO — A day of highly anticipated auditions arrived Monday at Comiskey Park, where the winners were the guys with the liveliest fastballs, the sharpest-breaking curves and the ability to get them over the plate.

It takes all those skills and, oh yeah — you need to be able to throw 100 pitches without pain.

The hunt for a "Dead Red October," as some of the Seattle Mariners’ t-shirts proclaimed on the eve of their American League Division Series against the Chicago White Sox, already has become survival of the fittest on the pitcher’s mound.

The White Sox, looking more like an aftermath scene from a Discovery Channel wildlife program, selected left-hander Jim Parquet to start today after their top three starters limped their way out of the regular season with a variety of injuries.

Left-hander Mike Sirotka, the Chicago’s top winner with a 15-10 record and a 3.79 earned run average, tested his sore elbow Monday and was deemed healthy … healthy enough to start Game 2 on Wednesday.

Right-hander James Baldwin, who sat out two weeks with a sore shoulder and then was shelled in his last outing over the weekend, will pitch Friday’s Game 3 in Seattle.

And right-hander Cal Eldred, 10-2 in 20 starts, isn’t even on the Chicago playoff roster after his valiant effort to return from elbow surgery fell painfully short. Eldred tried to pitch over the weekend with a 5-inch screw in his elbow.

"In order to get to the postseason, you are going to have some casualties," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. "Unfortunately for us, they lie in the area of starting pitching. We have to be able to overcome those things and I think we have enough men that we can do that.

"We might be sending out Gideon’s Army, but I’ll take that army any time."

Are we talking joy in Marinerville?

"They can start whoever they want," M’s manager Lou Piniella said. "The last time we came in here (in August), they never named a starter the whole time we were here. It’s not going to bother us one way or another. Whoever they throw out there is fine with us."

Piniella had his own pitching decision to make Monday.

Jamie Moyer, who Piniella had said experienced tightness behind his left shoulder during his last start, threw from the bullpen mound and pronounced himself ready to start for the M’s on Wednesday.

Piniella, however, didn’t.

That duty will go to right-hander Paul Abbott, although Piniella wasn’t specific about his reasons behind the decision. He said only that Moyer and left-hander John Halama will be available out of the bullpen for the first two games, and that one of the two would start a possible Game 4 on Saturday in Seattle.

The either/or scenario Saturday means the Mariners will throw only one left-hander against a Chicago lineup dominated by right-handed hitters.

"Hammer them hard inside," said Mariners advance scout Stan Williams, who was the team’s pitching coach last year.

The Mariners believe Garcia, despite being new to the postseason, is the right man for the right situation. He wobbled in his last two starts, when the adrenaline rush of the division race got the best of him.

That experience, catcher Joe Oliver says, will make Garcia effective today.

"Our situation the past several days has kind of settled him, knowing that every game we played meant something," Oliver said. "He’ll be fine. He’s got experience in big games now. I can’t think of a better guy to have in Game 1."

As for Parque, the Chicago left-hander hasn’t faced the Mariners this year, although he has pitched against them a half-dozen times in the past.

"I’ve got some new pitches this year," he said. "They haven’t seen them."

Well, one scout has seen them and wasn’t impressed.

"If he has changed something, then he needs to change back," the scout said.

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