By Joe Haakenson, AngelsWin.com Contributor -
OCT. 7th, 2002
MINNEAPOLIS -- Darin Erstad lifted the bill of his cap to show off a scar on his forehead. Then he pulled down a sweatband off his right arm to show off another scar. Both came as a result of a collision with infielder Benji Gil on June 1 at the Metrodome.
The Angels had trouble spotting flyballs in the Metrodome roof that weekend, so when the ball went up, anyone who could see it went after it.
The problem is that in the Metrodome, it's so loud that the fielders can't communicate with each other. And if they don't take their eye off the ball, they might run into each other, as Erstad and Gil did.
It's one of the obstacles the Angels have in their attempt to beat the Minnesota Twins in the American League Championship Series and advance to the World Series.
``Hopefully, because we play with guys for so long during the season you get a feel for the guys, almost a sixth sense,'' Erstad said. ``What guys can get to and what they can't.''
Erstad said Monday's workout day in the Metrodome should help some, because it usually takes a day there to feel comfortable.
``The first day is important so you can get your eyes adjusted,'' he said. ``Balls that are hit, you just have to trust your read. There's no worse feeling than running to a spot, waiting for a ball and saying, `OK, any time now.' ''
Said Angels manager Mike Scioscia: ``It's a challenge. Even with 25,000 people you can't hear, and now there'll be 56,000. But nothing's going to change as far as there won't be any communication. You have to rely on instincts.''
The Twins lost utility infielder Denny Hocking for the series because he was spiked on the middle finger of his right hand during the Twins' celebration on the mound after their Game 5 victory over the Twins on Sunday.
``He got spiked right through the nail,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``It went into the flesh. The earliest he could be back is by the weekend, but we can't afford to go a player short.''
The Twins activated David Lamb to take Hocking's spot on the roster. Lamb was in spring training with the Angels in 2001 before being cut late in camp.
Left-handed reliever Dennis Cook had surgery to repair a torn labrum and clean out debris in his left shoulder last Friday. Cook went to Scioscia in the final week of the season to ask if he had a chance to be on the playoff roster. When Scioscia told him he wasn't high on the depth chart, Cook decided to have the surgery.
Cook missed two months with the injury, but opted for rehab instead of surgery in the hopes of pitching in the postseason.
``I appreciate them being honest,'' said Cook, who said he hasn't decided if he'll retire. ``They could have had me hold on to the end of the season.''
Cook was disappointed he didn't get a chance to pitch again in the postseason, where he's been so successful in the past. In 19 career postseason games, Cook has thrown 16 2/3 scoreless innings.
``I took September as a tryout and felt I was throwing decent,'' he said. ``But I didn't get out there a whole bunch. They were in a tight race and went with the young guys. And it looks like they made the right choices.''
The Angels considered putting pitcher Aaron Sele on the playoff roster for the ALCS, but decided they were better off sticking with the 10-man pitching staff they used in the Division Series.
Sele went on the disabled list with a partially torn muscle in his right rotator cuff after pitching on Aug. 20. He returned to pitch four innings in the final game of the regular season.
``Where the staff is now and where Aaron is now, it didn't make sense to put him out there,'' Scioscia said.