By KIRBY ARNOLD
NEW YORK – In the middle of a busy clubhouse, Charles Gipson maintained amazing restraint.
The man who had spent the majority of his nine-year pro career in the minor leagues had just been told that he was being added to the Seattle Mariners’ active roster for their American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.
The moment he got the word from manager Lou Piniella, Gipson felt like shouting his joy to the world.
Instead, he walked back to his locker, amid a visiting clubhouse full of teammates preparing for Game 1 against the Yankees.
“I went to my locker, closed my eyes and in my mind I was jumping and screaming,” he said.
The simple act of batting practice before a postseason game at Yankee Stadium was a career experience for Gipson.
“Oh, man,” he said. “I can’t explain what this means. I’m so thankful to get a chance not only to be here, but to help the team win.”
Gipson, one of the fastest players in the Mariners organization, hit .248 with 16 stolen bases for Class AAA Tacoma this season. He played 59 games for the M’s, most of his action as a pinch runner and defensive replacement in the outfield.
“I anticipate that’s what my role will be here,” he said. “Play defense late in the game and come in and help on the bases.”
Gipson played in the late innings of Tuesday’s game, as a defensive replacement in left field.
He made the ALCS roster after the Mariners decided to go with 10 pitchers in this series. They also activated left-handed relief pitcher Rob Ramsay, who’ll be used against the Yankees’ predominately left-handed lineup.
Left off the roster were right-handed reliever Joel Pineiro and left-handed starter Jamie Moyer, who suffered a broken kneecap in a simulated game last weekend and will miss the rest of the postseason.
Mariners manager Lou Piniella stood behind the batting cage before the game engrossed in conversation, oblivious to the screams of a group of women near the M’s dugout.
“Loooooouuuu! We love you Loooouuuuu!” they yelled.
One of the women held a sign that was shaped like a jersey, complete with pinstripes, Piniella’s No. 14 and the words “Sweet Lou is back.”
Eventually, Piniella turned and waved, and the women’s screams were even louder.
Piniella, who played 12 years and was the manager, among other duties, for another five years with the Yankees, has a special place in his heart for New York.
“I have a tremendous amount of feeling and respect for this organization,” he said. “I wore my championship rings with pride.”
Emphasis on the word “wore.” Piniella made it clear he’s not a Yankee this week.
“I’m no longer a Yankee. I’m a Seattle Mariner,” he said. “I’m going to do everything that I can to assure that this team wins. It’s fun coming here for me, it really is. I’m going to enjoy the situation, especially if we win.”
The Yankees, desperate for quality middle relief, activated right-hander Jason Grimsley to their roster before Tuesday’s game. The man they cut to make room for Grimsley may seem a surprise.
Jose Canseco, claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay in August, became the expendable one. Manager Joe Torre said Glenallen Hill is more suited as a late-inning replacement than Canseco.
“It wasn’t easy to do,” Torre said. “Jose unfortunately is a regular player and he’s probably not as used to coming off the bench as Glenallen Hill is.”
Canseco didn’t play in the Division Series against the A’s. Hill, a former Mariner, has performed well as a pinch-hitter, although he struck out in his one at-bat Tuesday.
“He’s had a lot of experience as a pinch-hitter and that’s what we’ll use Glenallen as,” Torre said.
As the Mariners loosened up amid a huge number of reporters, photographers and baseball officials, a ball thrown by David Bell missed its target and hit Mariners president Chuck Armstrong near his right shoulder.
Armstrong winced and flexed his arm for a few minutes, then pronounced himself OK.
“I’m lucky,” he said. “It got me just below the collarbone.”
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