10/01/2003 6:06 PM ET
Notes: Game 1 done, over with
Players squarely focused on task at hand Thursday
NEW YORK -- Despite an 0-for-4 performance in Tuesday's Division Series opener against the
Twins, Jason Giambi isn't about to proclaim that his season is all but over.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
As a matter of fact, the Yankees slugger believes that losing Game 1 may be the best thing that
could have happened for him.
Giambi, who has been to the postseason four years running, saw his team win the opener in
each of the first three years -- twice with Oakland against New York and last year when the
Yankees took Game 1 from the Anaheim. In each of those series, Giambi's team went home at
the end of the series, forced to look ahead to another spring in early October.
"Maybe this is a good thing," Giambi said after the Yankees' Wednesday afternoon workout.
"Every first round, I've won the first game and lost. Maybe this is a good omen."
Giambi is joking, of course, that his team is better off down, 0-1, than having won the opener.
But the mood in the Yankees clubhouse was light on Wednesday as the Bronx Bombers
readied themselves for Thursday night's Game 2.
"Yesterday is over. We had a good workout today, so we'll try to go out, have some fun and
play well tomorrow," Giambi said. "We just have to play a good baseball game. We'll just
learn from yesterday and take it into tomorrow."
Giambi, who scuffled at the plate for much of the regular season, left four men on base
Tuesday, contributing to New York's 1-for-10 output with runners in scoring position.
Although many pointed to the Yankees' $120 million cleanup hitter as the player who needs to
get the job done with men on base, Giambi had his defenders as well.
"Money is going to make you live better; it's not going to make you play better," said Reggie
Jackson, who knows a thing or two about playing in October. "You can certainly make a story
out of yesterday, but it was just chapter one. It's one day. The concern has more impact if he
has another bad day."
Giambi hit .250 this season, almost 60 points below his career average, though his 41 homers
and 107 RBIs led the Yankees.
"He struggled this year, but he put up some big numbers, too," said general manager Brian
Cashman. "He was 0-for-4 yesterday. That's one game. I've heard a lot of people talk about
him not getting the job done in the playoffs, but look at last year -- he was awesome."
"I'd sure like to have him on my team," Jackson said. "I think it's in him to rise to the occasion."
In last year's ALDS against the Angels, Giambi hit .357 (5-for-14) with a home run and three
RBIs, in the Yankees' four-game series defeat. He said Wednesday that while winning Game 2
was important for the Yankees, it wasn't a "must win" game to extend their season.
"I've been up 2-0 and still lost," he said. "We just have to play well. If we do that, we have a real
good chance of winning."
Center of attention: Bernie Williams' misplay that led to Torii Hunter's sixth-inning
triple received a lot of attention after Game 1. The play, which led to two Twins runs after
Alfonso Soriano threw away Williams' relay throw, turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 advantage for
the Twins, who went on to win the game, 3-1.
Williams' ability in center field has been a hot topic lately, as the 35-year-old appears to have
lost a step following his May knee surgery.
"As long as I'm well enough to go out there, I'm going to expect the most from myself,"
Williams said. "I feel that if I can get a good jump on the ball, I can still go get 'em. When you
miss 42 games it's bound to have some effect, but I feel I can go out there and do all the things
I'm supposed to do."
Fortunately for Williams, Joe Torre is not among the people talking about his diminishing
skills, as the manager gave another vote of confidence to the five-time All-Star.
"Bernie is a big-game player for me," Torre said. "I trust Bernie, and even though I make light
of him a lot, it's always with affection. I've never had a problem with Bernie not being able to
handle the heat. He's got a unique personality, no question, but that's what makes him
lovable. I don't think any of this will affect him."
Cashman said there have been no internal talks about Williams' future in center field, though
Hideki Matsui's ability to play the position could facilitate a move to left field for Williams as
soon as next year.
"We have not had any discussions about our positions and what our future is in those areas,"
Cashman said. "We believe that Bernie gets the job done for us in center field. Every winter, we
regroup and assess every aspect of our club. We're just hoping that doesn't take place until
Williams didn't seem concerned with his play and was confident that he would be able to put
Game 1 in the rearview mirror.
"The fans here are very emotional," Williams said. "And you have to take the good with the
bad. You let it go and you move on."
Youth movement: Nick Johnson had a tough Game 1, leaving five runners on base in
his final three at-bats, which came in the fifth, seventh and ninth innings. Johnson, who went
0-for-4 with a walk in the contest, said that even with the stakes so high, he took the same
approach to the plate on Tuesday as he had all season.
"I'm just trying to get on base for the other guys, get things going," Johnson said. "I can't do
anything about yesterday, so I just have to move forward and hope it doesn't happen again."
Johnson hit .284 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs in 96 games this season, walking an
impressive 70 times and compiling a .422 on-base percentage.
"Nick can hit, that's the bottom line," said Derek Jeter. "He's patient, doesn't swing at many
bad pitches and gets on base a lot. It was one bad day."
Johnson's seventh-inning at-bat, which came with two outs and runners at the corners, was a
good example of his feistiness at the plate. With LaTroy Hawkins on the mound, the
25-year-old first baseman fought off pitch after pitch, ultimately striking out on the ninth pitch
of the at-bat.
"I thought Nick had good at-bats," Jeter said. "He fouled off a lot of pitches, including some 97
mph fastballs. That's not easy to do. I'm not worried about Nick because he's got an
outstanding idea at the plate."
"He got to two strikes and he fought it off, fought it off for a while," Torre said. "He's
struggling right now. It's rhythm he doesn't have. He's fine, physically, it's just a matter of
getting his timing back."
Despite the tough opener, Johnson is looking forward to his next crack at the Twins on
"I haven't been swinging the bat that well, but that was yesterday," Johnson said. "I have to
just try to move forward and try to take some quality at-bats in the next game."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for
MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its