I borrowed Billy Joel's song title, which not only fit the locale, but also plays into his recent pair of concerts over the All-Star break, the last two ever to be held at Shea Stadium. Sorry, but there is no fresh Billy news following.
A few general comments follow before we get into the manager's remarks about his bullpen.
Probing Wainwright's role
In a most friendly manner, the writers were really pumping Adam Wainwright for any signals that he might be heading to the bullpen upon his return. Answering the same question many ways, he made it clear there have been no discussions about that.
I didn't stay as long as the others, as I felt the probing was being overdone, but I didn't see that his role is uncertain as others have written. Though in all fairness, apparently the GM and the manager have been sketchy about the matter.
The rehabbing righty is scheduled for 50-55 pitches in Saturday's bullpen session and plans to try out his curveball for the first time. That looks like a starter's program to me, at least at this point, but I guess we will see.
See you, Shea
New Citi Field almost touching the centerfield wall of Shea is a vivid reminder of the fact the old ballpark is in its last season. I asked Al Hrabosky if he would miss it.
"Heck, no," was his reply. Hungo
says it was a long time ago he pitched there and while did well, he won't miss
the park one bit. He did agree the animation of the
Speaking of booing, while it was not surprising to me that Albert Pujols was negatively saluted by the Mets fans, it might be that Yadier Molina received an even higher decibel level of raspberries. What a pleasant reminder of the 2006 NLCS!
UNLV guys sticking together
When some players graduate, they
remain close to their alma mater. The UNLV group seems to fit this bill. When I
mentioned to Ryan Ludwick that I had been with the
Hagin at the mike (not Mike)
It was great to see former
Cardinals and now current Mets radio broadcaster Wayne Hagin.
Hagin had a lot of catching up to
do with members of the
Tony La Russa on the bullpen
The Friday pre-game discussion with the manager focused on the bullpen. Matthew Leach and Derrick Goold have covered bits of this, but I thought I would share more of the details, as this reflects La Russa's current thinking - or at least what he wants us to think.
I wondered at times if the manager was giving us the answer that was politically correct. Note he often did not answer questions directly. Whether or not he believed it all, I am not sure. I don't fault him for it, but I felt I should make the observation.
The session began with me asking Tony if any of his relievers were unavailable Friday, though all seven showed up on his lineup card, as customary.
La Russa confirmed not all are available, but would not disclose who, believing that information could get back to the opposition and might affect the game. A consistent answer from La Russa, but I felt I had to ask, anyway.
My next question was on the usage pattern of Russ Springer, who seemed to be following the starter in recent games.
"It depends on who is hitting, who is going to bat. If there is a lineup that is suitable to him, match-ups are a little bit better... I put a lot of things together. Right or wrong, that is the strategy."
How many of the bullpen guys are worn down?
"Worn down? (pause) I don't think any of them. We just came off a break. The guy that is probably the closest right now is McClellan. (Counting from a sheet of yellow paper on his desk.) (He's) pitched one, two, three, four, five times in eight days…
"No, I don't think… I think we have been very careful with our relievers. There are a lot of days, we take a chance to lose the game not to work a guy too much. You point to me games where guys have been used repetitively, I'll challenge you (looking at his paper the entire time).
"A little nervous time out there right now. Sometimes it happens to the rotation, or it happens to the offense."
On whether tight games are more stressful for the bullpen.
"We just played eight games, four
On whether it is more stressful on the pen with no definitive ninth-inning man.
"When have we not had a definitive ninth inning guy? … Who has almost always been there? It's been definitive. The thing is like yesterday (Thursday) when he is rested… Sometimes you have to stretch guys out because you have to get to the ninth."
"What changes his status is that he threw 35 pitches yesterday (Thursday). That changes his status.
"I will tell you what is counterproductive. It's counterproductive for me to comment about the status of these guys. Because they'll read into stuff. You don't have a blueprint of what's going to happen. And all of a sudden you'll say something that the game strategy changes.
have as much confidence in
The manager goes on to put the previous remark into context by including his entire bullpen in the same morale-building pronouncement.
"I am looking at this now that there isn't anybody that I have any less confidence that I did prior to this."
Is there any connection between
the timing of
noticed that. It might be a bit unsettling to him. I'm a great believer in human
nature. Those guys are out there…
On whether two returning starters, Carpenter and Wainwright, will help the pen.
"Here's my problem with that. These are the starters we've got. They are what we have to win with. (pause) That is what we have to win with."
What about the recent pattern, scoring early in the game, not later?
"I think there's got to be something there. I think it says a lot about the fact that we're ready to hit early in the game. We haven't figured it out. We are trying to improve it. It is only marginally better… It is a legitimate question."
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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