OAKLAND, OCT. 19 -- Cincinnati Reds pitcher Jose Rijo will go to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum mound for his scheduled start in Saturday's Game 4 of the World Series with a painful blister, a tired arm and the imposing task of trying to beat Dave Stewart and the Oakland Athletics for the second time in five days.
Stewart, meanwhile, says he'll be refreshed and eager to avenge his Game 1 defeat. Yet Rijo remains typically undaunted.
"I beat him once," the hard-throwing right-hander said today. "I can beat him again. If anything, it should be easier this time."
The circumstances seem to dictate otherwise, however. Rijo will be in less than perfect health, although both he and Manager Lou Piniella say there never was any serious consideration of reshuffling the rotation to get Rijo some extra rest.
Rijo developed a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand during his seven innings of shutout work Tuesday, and he said a callous was slow in developing.
"It's still pretty tender," he said. "Usually these things harden up by now and you don't have to worry about it, but that hasn't happened yet. I'll just have to live with it."
Rijo also will be pitching on three days' rest for the first time this season. The weekend off in the National League Championship Series prevented him from doing so in the playoffs -- although he would have pitched Game 7 on a three-day break had the Reds not ended the NLCS in six games.
Rijo threw on the sideline on the day that would have been his seventh-game outing, and the results were not encouraging. "My arm was just dead that day," he said. "It didn't bounce back very well."
But he contends an abundance of incentives will compensate for his ailments. Rijo will be pitching against his ex-team -- the A's traded him in the Dave Parker deal three years ago, and he still maintains some ill will toward their methods of grooming him. He also lived in Oakland for three years and met his wife here.
And, with a new contract in the works, Rijo wants to put a positive postseason spin on his bid to become one of the majors' best-paid pitchers. His current agreement with Cincinnati expires after next season, but Rijo -- who wore a T-shirt inscribed with the cry "It's Over!" to Thursday's workout -- says he expects to renegotiate this winter.
"I want to be bringing a U-Haul to the bank," he said. "And one way to make sure that happens is to pitch us to the title." Et Cetera
In 18 starts here during the regular season, Stewart went 11-4 with a 1.74 ERA. . . . A's outfielder Rickey Henderson homered in the third inning tonight to extend his postseason hitting streak to 15 games. . . .
The star of the Series' first two games, Reds outfielder Billy Hatcher, said he found it difficult to muster much appreciation for the historical significance of his record seven-for-seven performance through Game 2.
"I don't know much about baseball history," said Hatcher, who hit into a double play in his first Game 3 at-bat tonight. "Probably all I know is from when I used to be in Houston, listening to all the stories Yogi Berra used to tell."