Saturday, October 19
Shinjo to DH for Giants in Game 1
By David Schoenfield
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Giants manager Dusty Baker has selected his designated hitter for Game 1 … and, no, it's not Willie McCovey.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo will DH and bat ninth. Reggie Sanders, who suffered through a terrible NLCS and was benched for Game 5, will return to right field and hit sixth, behind Benito Santiago.
Shinjo is regarded as a good fastball hitter and Angels' starter Jarrod Washburn throws a high percentage of fastballs. Shinjo also hit .291 vs. left-handers, compared to his .214 average vs. right-handers during the regular season. More interesting is Baker's decision not to play Shinjo in center field. He is a superior defender to Kenny Lofton, who misplayed two flyballs in the NLCS.
"I thought about doing that vice versa," Baker said prior to Game 1. "I talked to Kenny about it. His years of being in the American League, he's more familiar with this ballpark, number one, defensively. Number two, he feels more comfortable playing and staying in the game playing (the field) than he does DHing."
With Kevin Appier, a right-hander, going in Game 2 for the Angels, Shinjo will likely return to the bench. Baker will have to find a DH for his Game 2 starter, Russ Ortiz, who hit .246 with seven extra-base hits (including two home runs) in 69 at-bats this season. In fact, with a .299 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage, Ortiz had a .705 OPS. Compare that to the Giants' bench:
Yorvit Torrealba .752 Ramon Martinez .749 Russ Ortiz .705 Tsuyoshi Shinjo .662 Tom Goodwin .659 Pedro Feliz .617 Shawon Dunston .536
Torrealba, the backup catcher, has yet to appear in the postseason, while Martinez has had only two plate appearances. The Giants have also left Damon Minor (.333 OBP, .445 slugging) off the roster for all three rounds of the playoffs.
Game 1 lineups
"We decided to stick with the three left-handed relievers because they have quite a few left-handers on their roster and in their starting lineup," Baker said.
Baker said the final roster decisions came down to picking guys who could do more than one thing, such as pinch-hit, pinch-run and play defense. That's where Minor drew the short straw. "We had some tough decisions there ... Damon Minor had a good record DHing. But we do play three games in our park, too."
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David Schoenfield is the baseball editor at ESPN.com.