- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

OAKLAND, Calif. Maybe there's good reason for the lack of national attention toward the Twins-Athletics American League Division Series: Not even the fans in Oakland seem to care about it.

For the second straight day, the A's and Twins played to a Coliseum crowd nowhere near capacity yesterday. Game1 of the series drew 34,853 fans; Game2 drew a paltry 31,953.

There were extenuating circumstances, from the 1p.m. weekday starting times to the hefty ticket prices for even the worst of seats. Who wants to shell out $35 to sit in the massive center field upper deck? Great seats for Oakland Raiders football games, terrible for baseball.

"When we saw the schedule, we kind of figured we'd have this, maybe a little more," said Jim Young, A's director of public relations. "It's hard to see those [empty] seats, but we understand. We're going to worry about the fans that are here, not the ones that aren't."

It wasn't just the outfield upper deck that was barren. The third deck grandstand was filled only from first to third base on both days, and there were plenty of scattered empty seats throughout the lower two decks yesterday.

Not exactly the atmosphere you'd expect for a playoff games between the AL West and Central champions.

"It's ridiculous for a championship team to have such an empty stadium as this," one anonymous fan told the Oakland Tribune on Tuesday. "It's like we're playing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on a Saturday afternoon or something."

Saenz has surgery

OAKLAND, Calif. A's reserve infielder Olmedo Saenz underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon his right heel, a procedure that not only ended his season but could threaten his career.

Saenz, who was injured running down the first-base line in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game, could return next spring, but he's had a history of injury trouble and the A's were already unlikely to re-sign him.

Adding insult to injury, Oakland is now required to play the rest of the series with a 24-man roster. If the A's advance to the ALCS or World Series, they are allowed to add a 25th player.

Braves looking for positives

ATLANTA A late rally had the Atlanta Braves feeling better about themselves, even though they lost Game1 of the National League Division Series.

Trailing 8-2, Gary Sheffield hit a solo homer and Javy Lopez added a two-run shot in the eighth inning to get the Braves close.

In the ninth, Atlanta put the first two runners on against Giants closer Robb Nen, but Julio Franco flied out and Sheffield grounded into a game-ending double play.

"Hitting a home run in the postseason is the best thing you can do, especially when your team is trying to rally to win the game," said Lopez, who got a second chance when San Francisco catcher Benito Santiago dropped a popup.

"We didn't come out with a win," Lopez added, "but we'll take this good feeling with us into tomorrow's game."

Randolph in the mix

NEW YORK Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph had a three-hour interview with Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski about the Tigers' managerial opening.

Randolph met at a Manhattan hotel with Dombrowski and four of his assistants, including Al Kaline and Willie Horton, about the opening before New York played Game2 of the AL Division Series against Anaheim.

"We'll wait and see what happens," Randolph said. "It was a very productive day."

The Tigers fired Luis Pujols on Monday after he was 55-100 after replacing Phil Garner in April.

The Tigers will also interview San Diego Padres first-base coach Alan Trammell, a former star shortstop with the Tigers; Bruce Fields, who managed at Class AAA Toledo the past two seasons; and Oakland bench coach Ken Macha.

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