Angels’ Washburn playing, not watching this season
Anaheim, Calif. ? Jarrod Washburn made a big postseason decision last year.
“I finally got a dish so I could watch the World Series,” he said. “We don’t have Fox where I’m from.”
Nothing to think about this year. Come Saturday night, he’ll just walk out to the mound, pick up the ball and throw the first pitch of the World Series between Anaheim and San Francisco.
“I can’t wait for Saturday to come,” he said Wednesday, standing by his locker at Edison Field, a long way from home in Danbury, Wis.
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia and San Francisco manager Dusty Baker have announced only their Game 1 starters, preferring to wait on setting their full rotations. Washburn, 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in three postseason starts for the Angels, will face Jason Schmidt, 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts.
Washburn, 28, is from a place so small the population 1,855, according to its Web site could fit into Edison’s left-field bleachers with room to spare. There’s not much to do.
“You hunt six days a week,” he said, “and watch the Packers on Sunday.”
He loves to take his bow and arrow out during the offseason and go after deer, even goes to North Dakota to hunt with his dad. Even if the temperature is 40 degrees below zero.
“As long as there’s no wind,” he said.
Teammate Kevin Appier, listening in from the next stall over, didn’t believe Washburn’s story about having to buy a satellite dish to watch Arizona’s seven-game win over the New York Yankees last year. Appier insisted Washburn was focused on deer, not Fox.
“Your elbows are dripping down blood,” Appier said, laughing.
Washburn admitted he didn’t watch all of the games.
“Usually, I’d fall asleep before the end,” he said.
Now he’ll be pitching the big game instead of hunting it.
He never had more than 11 wins in parts of four major league seasons. When Anaheim played Cleveland in the major league season opener March 31, the left-hander became the Angels’ sixth different opening-day starter in six seasons.
He gave up a two-run single to Milton Bradley in his very first inning of the season and lost the opener 6-0, but went on to go 18-6 with a 3.15 ERA, the most victories for an Angels pitcher in 11 years. From April 19 to July 21, he went unbeaten in 17 starts, going 12-0.
“He’s a hard thrower,” the Giants’ Kenny Lofton said. “He has really good stuff and good command. But if we do what we should, we can beat anybody on any given.
San Francisco had better success against left-handers, batting .279 with a home run per 21.6 at-bats. Against righties, the Giants hit .263 with a homer per 30.6 at-bats.
Jeff Kent batted .366 against lefties, .297 against righties. Barry Bonds hit .384 against left-handers with 21 homers in 125 at-bats, and .363 against righties with 25 homers in 278 at-bats.
“You face guys like that all season long,” Washburn said. “The Rangers have A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez). Oakland has Miguel Tejada, the Yankees have (Jason) Giambi. I’m going to be smart about it. The situations in the game are going to dictate whether I attack him or pitch around him.”
Scioscia said he wanted to see how his pitchers came out of bullpen sessions before making his other rotation decisions. He must decide whether he’d rather have Ramon Ortiz (15-8) in Game 2 or at Pacific Bell Park in Game 3 which would slot him to start Game 7 if the series goes that far.
Based on their postseason performances, it wouldn’t be surprising if he moved rookie John Lackey (9-4), who turns 24 the day of Game 4, up ahead of Appier (14-12), who kept pitching in an out of trouble against Minnesota last Sunday and remains winless in five postseason appearances.
Anaheim pitchers say they’re impressed by San Francisco batters.
“They make pretty good adjustments, the right-handers against right-handers, and left-handers against left-handers,” Appier said.
Schmidt, a 29-year-old right-hander acquired from Pittsburgh in July 2001, took a shutout into the eighth inning against St. Louis, getting the first postseason victory of his career.
“I never expected it,” he said Wednesday after a late-afternoon workout in San Francisco, the Giants’ first since winning the pennant Monday.
“You never know what Dusty is going to do at the last minute,” Schmidt said. “I just found out 10 minutes ago. I was throwing bullpen today and nobody even told me. I think it’s an honor.”
Baker picked Schmidt because it was his turn. Now the manager must figure out how to align Kirk Rueter, Livan Hernandez and Russ Ortiz.
“Maybe we’ll put Rueter in between the two hard throwers,” Baker said.
With the Giants seeking their first World Series title since 1954 when they played in New York’s Polo Grounds and the Angels trying to win it for the first time in their 42-season history, players figure to be pumped up when Washburn throws that first pitch.
“I think you dream about the World Series and the dog pile at the pitcher’s mound, but I don’t think you dream about what it takes to get there,” Kent said. “I’m going to keep my emotions in check and enjoy it.”
Notes: Scioscia said he hadn’t made his final decision, but the Angels probably would play a defensive shift toward right field against the pull-hitting Bonds. Anaheim did that during the division series against the Yankees, moving 3B Troy Glaus to near shortstop and putting SS David Eckstein behind second base. … Baker is still deciding whether to bring RHP Manny Aybar back to the bullpen or keep three left-handed relievers. Damon Minor also could be activated to DH against RHP.