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Posted: Wednesday October 7, 2009 6:42PM; Updated: Thursday October 8, 2009 3:59AM

Notebook: Phillies miffed over early playoff starts

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Winning the World Series last year didn't exactly make the Philadelphia Phillies prime time.

Their first two games games this postseason are afternoon starts at Citizens Bank Park, leaving fans scrambling to get out of work and players adjusting their body clocks.

"Being the defending world champs, I think it's kind of a little weird that we get both games at 2:30," said pitcher Cole Hamels, who is Philadelphia's Game 2 starter against the Colorado Rockies. "I don't think it's fair. I definitely don't think it's fair for the fans because this is all about home-field advantage or just baseball in general.

"I understand TV ratings," Hamels added, "but I think at the end of the day, most players would rather play when they're comfortable and that's what we've trained at, 7 o'clock."

Rockies manager Jim Tracy is simply glad his team is still playing.

Tracy took over a team that was 18-28 under Clint Hurdle and went 74-42 the rest of the way to earn the NL wild-card berth.

"I can certainly understand Cole's point," Tracy said. "I'm tickled to death that we've got a game to play. I really don't care what time it starts."

COLORADO'S 1-2 PUNCH: Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, the top two batters in Colorado's lineup, have a chance to be there for quite a long time.

Fowler is only 23. Gonzalez turns 24 on Oct. 17.

"Oh, they're ready to start," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said of his youngsters. "When you have the type of talent that Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler possess, you're looking at special things happening on a day-in, day-out basis for years to come.

"They're both five-tool players. Not many teams can boast about that."

Fowler, the speedy center fielder, batted .266 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 27 steals this season. Gonzalez, a left-handed hitting left fielder, hit .284 with 13 homers and 29 RBIs in only 278 at-bats.

EYES ON TIEBREAKER: The Twins' 12-inning victory over Detroit received a 4.2 rating on TBS, up 56 percent from the Chicago White Sox's win over Minnesota in last year's AL Central tiebreaker. Tuesday night's game was seen by 6,543,000 viewers, the most for a tiebreak game since 1998. It received a 27.1 rating in Minnesota and a 24.6 rating in Detroit.

BACK IN THE BULLPEN: Starter or reliever? Joba Chamberlain remains a hot topic in New York, but there's no debate about his role for the Yankees against Minnesota.

After going 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA as a starter this season, Chamberlain is back in the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs.

"He can do anything from being a one-inning guy to being a two-, three-inning guy or even a longer guy," manager Joe Girardi said before the game. "If we need distance, we can use him there as well."

Girardi didn't hesitate to use Chamberlain in Game 1, calling on him with a runner on first and two outs in the eighth. And Chamberlain got Delmon Young to hit a grounder to shortstop to end the inning and help preserve the Yankees' 7-2 victory.

Looking to protect Chamberlain's arm, the Yankees limited him to 157 1-3 innings this year. He made 31 starts and one relief appearance -- a tuneup in the regular-season finale Sunday at Tampa Bay.

"It was comfortable. It was good. It's not like it was something that I haven't done before," Chamberlain said.

As a rookie in 2007, Chamberlain was a dominant setup man with a blazing fastball. He said relief work requires "less thinking" than starting.

"You don't have to be concerned that you started him with a breaking ball the last time or you threw him a lot of fastballs in his last at-bat or whatever. You just go out there and throw," he said.

With an extra day off in this best-of-five series between Games 1 and 2, the Yankees need only three starting pitchers. They chose CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.

Chamberlain could return to the rotation if New York advances to the best-of-seven AL championship series.

"They are two completely different approaches between starting and relieving," he said. "You don't have to pace yourself if you are a reliever."

RELIEVER TO STARTER: The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright is squarely in the spotlight this postseason.

The 28-year-old right-hander is the first pitcher since Bob Welch to save a World Series game and then draw a starting assignment in his return to the playoffs. Welch saved a game in the 1981 World Series and returned to start Game 3 in the 1983 NL championship series.

Wainwright is scheduled start against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the NL division series. In 2006, he went 1-0 with four saves, including saves in the clinching games of the NLCS and the World Series.

"It took me the first half of '07 to sort of find out what kind of pitcher I was as a starter, what was my identity, what kind of approach did I need to take into every game," he said Wednesday. "What works best for me is taking a reliever mentality out there to start and get the guy out as fast as I can get him out as many times as I can do it."

Former Atlanta teammate John Smoltz tried to talk Wainwright into remaining a reliever, saying he didn't think it was a good idea for him to leave the bullpen.

"What do you think Tony [La Russa] would have said if I'd have said, `No, John doesn't want me to start. He thinks I should close," Wainwright said, smiling.

"I never thought twice about it," he said. "I knew my whole life I wanted to be a starter in the big leagues. I knew I could do that."

TWIN FAN: Angels outfielder Torii Hunter got all the postseason inspiration he needed from his former teammates.

Hunter was among those baseball fans glued to their televisions Tuesday night during the Minnesota Twins' extra-inning tiebreaker victory over Detroit. The slugger spent 15 years in the Minnesota organization before signing with Los Angeles for last season.

"I found myself cheering for them," Hunter said. "I texted most of them and told them, 'Congratulations.' I think it's the righteous thing to do."

OTHING FOR GRANTED: An injured left wrist isn't keeping Boston infielder Jed Lowrie out of uniform in the playoffs. That's because Lowrie knows he can't count on getting here again.

Lowrie is expected to be on Boston manager Terry Francona's postseason roster despite the wrist injury, which hurts the shortstop most when he's hitting from the left side of the plate. Lowrie spent a month on the disabled list late in a season in which he hit just .147 -- but he's still healthier than Nick Green, who's expected to be inactive because of a nerve problem in his back.

"I've had the opportunity in my first two years [in the majors] to experience the playoffs," Lowrie said. "You hear about guys who play their whole careers and never get to experience this, so I know the opportunity that's presented, and I don't want to miss it."

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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