10/05/2003 3:29 PM ET
Notes: Lineup shift for Game 4
LeCroy replaced by Cuddyer at designated hitter
MINNEAPOLIS -- Instead of counting sheep, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and some of his coaches spent their sleeping hours Saturday night awake with multitudes of lineup cards dancing in their heads.
Facing elimination in Game 4, the various cards thought up by Gardenhire and coaches Jerry White and Paul Molitor had one thing in common --- change. Minnesota entered Sunday batting .179 in the first three games of the American League Division Series vs. New York.
"Molly wrote out three (lineups)," Gardenhire said. "Jerry wrote out a whole book full."
The biggest move ultimately made was taking Matthew LeCroy out and replacing him with Michael Cuddyer as the designated hitter. LeCroy was 1-for-11 (.093) in the series.
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
"I just haven't gotten it done for the last two games," said LeCroy, who was hitless in Games 2 and 3.
"You can see he's out of the strike zone. He's pressing," Gardenhire said. "He wants to do really well. It's one thing to be missing balls, but you can see he's trying to force it. The guys on the other side can see it."
Cuddyer was 1-for-7 vs. Yankees Game 4 starter David Wells in the regular season, but was struggling at the time. He looked much better after Aug. 31 recall and finished the season 7-for-18 (.389).
With LeCroy on the bench, Torii Hunter (3-for-10) was moved from sixth to fourth. A.J. Pierzynski (1-for-9) went up from eighth to fifth. Cuddyer batted sixth while Jacque Jones (2-for-12) went down from fifth to seventh. Corey Koskie (2-for-11) dropped from seventh down to eighth, a spot where he has not batted in recent years.
Not removed from the lineup was second baseman Luis Rivas, who remained in the second spot despite entering the day 0-for-9 in the ALDS and 1-for-9 lifetime against Wells.
"Molitor thought Luis had a very good chance off this guy," Gardenhire said. "When Paul Molitor says that, I say, 'Sold!' because I get my wish too. I get my defense."
Not slumping? The Twins scored a total of five runs through three games of the series. Over Games 2 and 3, they scored just two runs on nine hits.
Hitters are quick to credit New York starters Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens rather than acknowledge a slump.
"Those guys aren't just going to throw the ball over," Jones said. "They're all winning pitchers. Not taking anything away from us, but they're going to be tough. That's what we have to deal with."
"It's no slump -- look at the pitchers," Hunter said. "Those guys are good. They want to get you just like we're trying to get those guys. And those guys right there are totally different than regular pitchers."
Heading into the ALDS last year with the A's, Twins hitters had the benefit of facing Oakland pitchers late in the regular season. In turn, they did not have postseason struggles vs. the tandem of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito and won the series in five games.
The last 2003 regular season meeting between Minnesota and the Yankees was in mid-April. Gardenhire believed that plays a partial role in some of the rough postseason at-bats of his hitters.
"We haven't seen these guys for a long time, that's for sure," Gardenhire said. "One thing you can see, these guys -- like Roger yesterday, they can throw the ball out of the strike zone and get us to chase it ... that's what veteran guys do."
Hunter was asked what made New York's rotation tougher to face than other clubs.
"Veterans, salary, Yankees. You name it," he said.
Rogers relief: Veteran lefty Kenny Rogers said he would be ready to work out of the bullpen again Sunday after throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in Saturday's 3-1 loss in Game 3.
A starter all season for Minnesota and most of his career, the adjustment to relief work hasn't been easy for Rogers. His last postseason relief outing before Saturday was 1999 with the Mets, when he walked home the winning run in Game 6 that gave the Braves the NLCS.
"It's huge. It's a totally different mindset, a totally different approach," said Rogers, who struck out the side in the sixth inning Saturday. "I used to do it all the time. But it's been a long time. They know I'll do whatever they tell me."
Rogers would not comment on his reported displeasure over not being in the ALDS rotation. If the Twins advanced to the ALCS, a four-man starting staff is expected. The 38-year-old naturally hopes to be on it.
"I've started all year so that's what you want to do," Rogers said. "When they tell me to be ready, I'll be ready."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.