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'Winders push Ohlendorf back
09/12/2006 8:56 PM ET
TUCSON -- The last thing Tucson Sidewinders pitcher Ross Ohlendorf expected heading into his first start of the Pacific Coast League playoffs was to get injured during batting practice.

But that's exactly what happened, and now the right-hander must wait until Friday to face the Round Rock Express in the best-of-5 Championship Series.

The designated hitter is not being used -- both teams are National League affiliates -- so the pitchers become hitters.

And it was during practice on Monday afternoon that Ohlendorf injured the first finger on his right hand while trying to bunt a ball.

"It happened about halfway through pitcher's BP," Ohlendorf said. "It wasn't terrible. It could have been worse, but I was afraid that maybe I wouldn't get to pitch."

Ohlendorf was scheduled to start Wednesday night's game in Tucson, but that's been pushed back to Friday in Round Rock, Texas.

"I played catch (Tuesday) and it felt pretty good," the 24-year-old from Houston said. "I might have been able to pitch (Game 2) if I needed to, but we thought it would be better to take a couple more days to make sure it's OK."

Sidewinders manager Chip Hale agreed.

"He threw the ball well today and felt good, but we felt the two extra days would give him time to get the finger back to normal," he said.

Ohlendorf should be well-rested. He hasn't pitched since the regular-season finale against the Tacoma Rainiers on Sept. 4.

"We wanted Ohlendorf out there (Tuesday night) because it has been so long since he pitched," Hale said. "But we would rather have him feeling 100 percent."

Right-hander Dustin Nippert, who started and won Game 2 of the best-of-5 semifinal series against Pacific South Division champion Salt Lake, also will start the second game of this series.

ROSTER TWEAK: Veteran outfielder Donnie Sadler, who missed the final game of the Salt Lake series, will sit out the first two games of the series against Round Rock following the death of his grandfather.

Sadler was placed on the bereavement list Monday and replaced by Double-A outfielder Jesus Cota, who lives in Tucson during the offseason. He recently returned to his home from Tennessee and received a phone call from Arizona Diamondbacks Minor League field instructor Jack Howell, inquiring about his availability.

Sadler is expected to rejoin the Sidewinders before Friday night's game in Round Rock.

"To lose Donnie means a lot," Hale said. "He is our emotional leader."

Sadler went 1-for-7 but walked four times in the Salt Lake series.

"Jesus got off to a slow start in Double-A, but his second-half numbers were much better," Hale said. "Living here in Tucson was a big part in him being activated with us."

Cota hit .233 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs in 126 games with Tennessee. He played college ball at Tucson-based Pima Community and appeared in 37 games with the Sidewinders in 2005, batting .214 with three homers and 17 RBIs.

Hale said he would use Cota off the bench, either as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner or defensive replacement at first base or left field.

"You don't want to go into a series like this down a player, especially without the DH," Hale said.

With Sadler out for two more games, Jon Weber moves to center field and Robby Hammock goes to right.

ALL HANDS ON DECK: A storm approaching Tucson Electric Park about three hours before the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown in the PCL finals turned Hale and many of his players into temporary groundskeepers.

About a dozen players, along with Hale and pitching coach Mike Parrott, were in left field getting prepared for batting practice when the winds arrived. The regular four-member grounds crew needed help getting the wind-blown tarp on the infield, so the players came to the rescue.

With the tarp secured by the batting cage, pitching protective screen and 20-some sand bags, the Sidewinders returned to the clubhouse to wait out the storm.

UP NEXT: The best-of-5 series resumes Wednesday night in Tucson, with Nippert opposing fellow right-hander Matt Albers. Game time is 8:30 p.m. ET.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.