SAN FRANCISCO -- Both Major League venues in the Bay Area have reputations for being pitchers' parks, albeit for different reasons.
Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum has more foul territory than any other Major League yard, which means many foul balls that would have gone into the seats in other parks are caught for outs.
Here at the Giants' SBC Park, the cold, damp air and the swirling winds make the 421-foot no-man's land in the right-field power alley the place where fly balls go to die.
Tim Hudson / P
Weight: 165 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Oakland's Big Three of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito have all had enough experience in both parks to say which is more favorable to pitchers. Their responses ranged from Hudson saying it makes no difference to him, to Mulder diplomatically saying SBC Park might be a little kinder to the men on the mound, and to Zito flat-out saying the stadium on the west side of the Bay is better for pitchers.
Hudson makes his living off diving pitches that induce batters to pound the ball into the ground, so neither the acreage of foul territory in Oakland nor the vast outfield in San Francisco affects him much.
"High grass, soft dirt in front of the plate that will soften choppers a little bit -- as a sinkerballer those are the two elements that you would like," said Hudson, who added that he only remembers getting one foulout at home as a result of the extra room, "and the only reason I remember that is because it was a great play that [Eric Chavez] made, sliding into the dugout."
Like Hudson, Mulder is more of a ground-ball pitcher.
"Don't get me wrong, I love pitching [in Oakland], but I don't think the foul ground helps my game very much," he said.
Oddly enough, both Mulder and Hudson cited Boston's Fenway Park, a notorious hitters' haven where the A's travel next, as one of their favorites in which to pitch.
Hudson likes the deep, thick infield grass that slows grounders, while Mulder likes the illusion created by the proximity of the seats.
"I feel like I'm right on top of the plate [in Boston]," Mulder said. "But there's some parks where you feel like you're a mile away from home plate."
Barry Zito / P
Weight: 215 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Of the Big Three, Zito is the only one who gets a lot of fly-ball outs and the only one who came out and said the Giants' park is more suited to his style of pitching.
Still, Zito, like his teammates, said he's pitching to hitters, not to stadiums, and he doesn't alter his style to suit his immediate surroundings.
"If you're going bad then you can let things get in your head like that," Zito said. "But when you're pitching well, it doesn't matter. You could be pitching in a Little League park."
Limp free: Mark McClemore, who when healthy has done an admirable job filling in at third base for the injured Eric Chavez, had just one pinch-hit appearance in the last two games because of ongoing discomfort in his right knee.
But McLemore was back in the starting lineup Saturday and singled in his first at-bat.
Manager Ken Macha so far has liked almost everything he's seen from the veteran infielder.
"He's got a lot of enthusiasm and life on the bench and he's a professional with the bat almost every time, and he's played very well at third," Macha said. "He hasn't hit 20 homers, so that's really the only negative."
When Chavez does return, most likely after the All-Star break, Macha said McLemore will not be the everyday second baseman, but he will be the most-days second baseman.
"We're going to have the luxury of being able to monitor his situation and still not have a downgrade when [Marco] Scutaro is in there," Macha said.
Eric Chavez / 3B
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
From the infirmary: Chavez reported no ill effects or undue swelling or pain associated with the broken bone in his right hand a day after his first batting practice session Friday. He hit in the cage again Saturday, and Sunday will take batting practice once more on the field.
But despite Chavez's statements Friday about wanting to play as soon as this week, the A's are going to be cautious and make sure he gets through a rehab assignment without problems.
Before Friday's game, reliever Justin Duchscherer said he was ready to pitch, and Macha had the right-hander warming up in the sixth inning. But after sitting down, Duchscherer said his hamstring was too tight to go any further. Macha said Saturday that Duchscherer's availability was still questionable.
Hudson, recovering from a strained left hip that has him on the 15-day disabled list, said he's progressing just fine and has been playing catch to keep his arm loose without any problems.
"The arm is fine, but the rest of my body is sore from trying to stay in shape," he said.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.