Joey Devine's debut might have ended in a grand slam, but don't worry about it one bit. He won't. The newest Baby Brave is excited to be here, but I was surprised at how level-headed he is in his approach to the game and his promotion to Atlanta.
"I just had one bad pitch to a very good hitter," Devine said before Sunday night‘s game against the Padres. "Xavier (Nady) and good hitters in the major leagues hit mistakes."
Devine said his delivery and mechanics were just as they were in college at N.C. State. The Braves haven't really changed anything. They just gave him the chance to "keep doing what I am doing." Like other pitchers before him, he was told to "just keep doing" what he was doing, and that's exactly what he plans to do.
Anyone who watched the game had to be impressed with his 95-96 MPH fastballs, with the sharp rising movement. Like the other fifteen rookies debuting this season, he is neither in awe nor scared of what he might face in the big leagues. He knows his job and even though he has been a Brave for only two months, he seems to be doing things ‘the Braves way.' Instead of dwelling on that pitch (and the bunt he failed to lay down) after the game he "went back and broke down my performance and other than one pitch, I thought I did well. I thought I did well for the most part."
You can tell this kid does not get too high or too low. His father, on the other hand, was pretty fired up for his baby boy's first appearance in the majors. On a coupe of questionable calls, I even thought I could hear him riding the ump (which is every father's right…especially on a day like yesterday). I even gave the new kid an out by asking if the heat (it was over 100 on the field) and the extra inning was a factor. When I asked if he was use to going the extra inning in the sun, he said "I did it a couple of times (in double A), but not much. I used to do it all the time at NC State. It wasn't a problem, I felt good - other than the one bad pitch".
Truthfully, I didn't think the "one bad pitch" was that bad. It was too flat, for sure, but he was out of options because of a couple of calls that were just bad. He won't complain, but I can. I thought the ump made two bad calls in a row to set up the grand slam. Otherwise he would have had a strike out, and could have been the hero. The ump called the same pitch a strike on the same batter, but remember this is me talking, not Devine. It bugs me when an ump in the big leagues calls the ball different at the end of the game and then makes the same mistake twice in a row, but then calls the same pitch a strike later in the count. I was ready for Bobby Cox to come to the top step, but I guess it was just to hot for him to exert that much energy after thirteen innings.
Every team has its own feel, and this team feels like a school team (take your pick whether it is high school or college). Everybody seems to have a connection with somebody from when they were young…you know, last year before they got to be drinking age. But Devine is from Junction City, Kansas, the same hometown as the last Brave to make the jump to the big leagues in the same year they were drafted - Bob Horner. (Please Lord protect this boy's navicular bone and may he never be introduced to Bucky Woy) I was ready to feel sorry for him, but then I found out he did have friends on the team. Devine "knew Francoeur from playing against him in the summer in high school." It must be nice to be up one day and know one of the veterans on the team. He also played against Kyle Davies before he got drafted. Maybe it's less than six degrees of separation for these Braves.
I guess maybe these kids are getting to me. Right now it is nothing to nothing in the bottom of the second and John Smoltz looks to be pitching another gem, but all I want is to see if "this Devine kid" gets into the game if it is close. The last time the Braves had even six rookies up in one year was 1995…remember what happened that season?
Can these kids win it all? Of course they can. They don't know any better - and that makes them dangerous. They were raised to win, so they expect to win. Would this team winning the World Series be any less possible than the 1980 Olympic hockey team winning the gold metal? Its not nearly as big a task as that. That team didn't have anyone like Andruw, Chipper, Julio, Smoltz and the rest of the veterans to lead the way. Don't be surprised at this bunch and please don't be surprised if Joey "D" is your closer in game seven of a World Series.
Devine fitting in with the Braves
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