Rookie gets surprise nod

Updated: October 4, 2003, 12:22 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MIAMI -- Jason Schmidt wanted more rest, so the San Francisco Giants gave rookie Jerome Williams the start in Saturday's Game 4 against the Florida Marlins.

Williams was the original choice for Game 4, but there was speculation Schmidt -- the team's ace and a candidate for the NL Cy Young Award -- would take the mound on three days' rest. The entered Saturday trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series.

Manager Felipe Alou wanted to go with Schmidt, who went 17-5 with a 2.34 ERA during the regular season and pitched a three-hitter in the Giants' 2-0 victory in Game 1.

But the right-hander, who has a history of elbow problems, said he preferred waiting an extra day.

"Physically I could have pitched today," Schmidt said. "If I have to pitch today, I will do that. It would probably be in everybody's best interest if I didn't. Somebody has to pitch tomorrow."

If there is a Game 5 Sunday in San Francisco, Schmidt would start for the Giants.

Schmidt, who has had elbow tendinitis several different times in his career, pitched on short rest in the All-Star game this season and his elbow flared up the following day.

"It's always in the back of your mind," he said. "You've got to watch out for your health."

The Giants also may have changed their thinking based on recent postseason history. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports that the last 30 playoff starters to come back on short rest have compiled a 4-16 record with a 6.39 ERA.

Williams went 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts this season. He will become just the fourth rookie pitcher start a postseason game for the Giants and first since Cliff Melton started two games in the 1937 World Series.

"He's a fearless type of guy with good command of pitches," Alou said.

Also, Alou dropped right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. and catcher Benito Santiago from the starting lineup Saturday, replacing them with Jeffrey Hammonds in right and Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate.

Cruz was 0-for-10 in the series and dropped a routine fly that started Florida's 11th-inning rally for a 4-3 victory Friday.

The 38-year-old Santiago caught seven innings Friday and would start Game 5.