OAKLAND, Calif. -- Walt Weiss sat in a folding chair in the Oakland A's clubhouse yesterday and watched one tape replay after another of the Ellis Burks slide that took him out of a double play, the remainder of the American League Championship Series and most likely the World Series. The longer Weiss watched, the louder his knee throbbed and the more certain his fate seemed.
"The doctors tested my [left] knee today and found a sprained medial collateral ligament," Weiss said softly. "They pretty much said playing any more this year is doubtful, but we'll wait for a week or so and reassess. Right now it hurts a lot more than when I had the same injury in the other knee [last year]."
Weiss limped into Oakland Coliseum yesterday afternoon saying, Not too good," when first asked how he was feeling.
He then spent several hours undergoing a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test at Merritt Hospital in Oakland before assessing the videotape of his eighth-inning collision with Burks at second base in Game 2 while team physician Dr. Rick Bost assessed the film. Unfortunately for Weiss and the A's, nothing changed in either case, which did not terribly surprise Weiss.
"I usually don't stay on the ground unless I'm really hurt. I had a tough time just standing up," Weiss said. "The tough part of the play was I was on the run while the ball is on the way to me. My biggest concern was catching it cleanly. Just as I was about to go up, Burks slid into me. He got there pretty quick.
"My left leg wasn't off the ground yet. It was planted. A fraction of a second later and I'd have been in the air. But I wasn't, and when he hit me, the knee bent in. Clinically, it's the same injury I had before on the other knee, but I have more pain."
Now Oakland manager Tony La Russa has pain of his own, facing the daunting task of replacing one of the steadiest shortstops in the league in Game 3 today (3:18, Ch. 11) and likely for the remainder of the season.
"I read in the papers where he said it felt worse than the last one, and that one kept him out for eight weeks," La Russa said. "There's no way he'll play against the Red Sox. I just hope he can play later on."
Until Weiss can, second baseman Mike Gallego will shift to shortstop and veteran Willie Randolph will step in at second base.
Oddly, La Russa faced a difficult decision several days ago when he had to choose between the light-hitting Gallego and the more potent bat of the slower Randolph when the ALCS opened. La Russa chose Gallego, citing his wider range, the same attribute he will need today to replace Weiss.
The presence of Randolph in reserve is just another reminder of how carefully the A's have been constructed, because the former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman did not arrive in Oakland until May 12, when he came over from L.A. in exchange for outfielder Stan Javier.