09/29/2002 4:21 pm ET
MLBeat: Still scoreboard watching
By Mychael Urban / MLB.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- When the A's clinched the American League West title last Thursday, manager Art Howe said resting his regulars would take priority over trying to overtake the Yankees for home-field advantage.
As evidenced by Howe's lineup Sunday's regular-season finale, that thinking changed somewhere along the line. On Friday a handful of reserves played and on Saturday only two regulars started. But with the Yankees going into Sunday's slate with a half-game lead for the home field, the A's trotted out their A-team -- the lineup most likely to start Game 1 of the AL Division Series on Tuesday in Oakland.
"We'll be keeping an eye on the Yankee score," Howe admitted.
With an A's victory and a Yankees loss, New York would be forced to play a makeup game at home Monday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Asked if he'd feel sorry for the Yanks for having to play on the eve of their division series against the Angels, Howe rolled his eyes and smiled.
"We like watching baseball," he said. "So Monday would be a nice day to watch a game."
When Oakland's game started, New York was up 5-1 on the Orioles in the fifth inning. Howe suggested that if the Yankees won while the A's were playing, he'd take some of the starters, including pitcher Barry Zito, out of the game early.
Under the sun: According to the A's playoff travel itinerary that was distributed Sunday, both ALDS games played in Oakland will start at 1:05 p.m. PT. A's third baseman Eric Chavez said that's good but not great.
"It's probably better than a four o'clock start or something like that because we won't have the shadows," he said, "but now the sun is a factor on fly balls and popups."
Center fielder Terrence Long, who has to deal with the worst of it, agreed.
"Oh yeah, it's tough sometimes, real tough," he said. "But hopefully it won't matter. The sun comes into play on certain balls more than others, depending on how high they're hit, so maybe our guys can get them to hit the ball where we get the best angles."
Chavez said Network Associates Coliseum has the worst sun field in the league. "It's pretty tough. I can't think of one any tougher."
Chavez, who openly campaigned for a couple of days off when the A's clinched, got his wish Friday and Saturday. Then he showed the benefits of the breather with a sharp RBI single to right in the first inning Sunday. He also doubled in a run in the third.
"I feel wonderful," he said. "Completely rejuvenated."
Around the horn: Howe said the A's playoff roster has not yet been determined, and he wasn't sure if they'd carry 10 or 11 pitchers, but he did say, "The more pitching you have, the better off you are." Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Cory Lidle, Ted Lilly, Ricardo Rincon, Jim Mecir, Chad Bradford and Billy Koch are all virtual locks to make the roster, leaving Mike Venafro, Aaron Harang, Jeff Tam, Micah Bowie and Mike Fyhrie as bubble guys. Venafro would be the likely beneficiary if the A's decide they need another bullpen lefty to join Rincon and Lilly. ... Chavez spent most of his clubhouse time before the game playing with his new puppy, a miniature pinscher named Natasha, after his late grandmother's dog. It looks like a darker version of the talking Chihuahua on Taco Bell commercials, only smaller. He carries her around in a padded little thing that looks like a picnic basket/purse. "It only gets two pounds bigger than this," Chavez said. "I like that she's so small. This way I can take her on the road."
Fantasy Edge: If you won this year, spend the money on the fellow competitor you bored the most with incessant fake-GM roster talk. If you lost, it's probably your own fault for taking a flyer on Carl Everett.
Mychael Urban is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.