Be All That You Can Be

Scott Elbert is the kind of person who puts pressure on himself. When you've had the kind of athletic success he has had, you tend to be that way. So, no, he isn't satisfied with the way things are going although the truth is that lately they've been going along nicely.

Take Thursday night's start for Columbus -- four innings, three hits, three walks, seven strikeouts. Of that he feels, "The strikeouts are nice but I used 77 pitches in four innings. That's way too many."

Elbert's on a strict pitch count since he is just coming back from an abdominal muscle strain. Thus he had to leave the game without getting a decision although he had the lead when he departed. So, he 's still looking for his first victory of the season although he knows he's been throwing the ball quite well. However, there's been some command problems and that's what concerns him.

Scott's been laden with success at just about any sport he tries. Consider football. As a junior, he led the state of Missouri with 2,449 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns. He didn't even go out as a senior. Baseball, he knew, was his priority. He demonstrated why last spring when he was 6-2, with a 0.52 ERA, striking out 114 batters in 54 innings while allowing only 13 hits. Oh, yeah, he also hit .492 with 10 home runs. All this made him a second-team All-American, Missouri Player of the Year and the Dodgers' No. 1 draft choice. Success, indeed.

As a first-year pro, however, the numbers weren't anything like he was supposed to show for at Ogden, he was a mere 2-3, 5.26. Batters only hit .253 against him but he walked too many -- 30 in 49.2 innings. The problem was that he was a kid from a small high school (Seneca) going up against guys with college and pro experience and he felt he ought to hit corners rather than go right after them. And that simply wasn't his style.

For here's a lefthander with a plus fast ball that can reach 95, a developing slider and a tantalizing change-up. This spring, he was urged to take command and trust his ability, something he has begun to do once again.

That injury set him back so he's still not at the comfort level he expects of himself. But when you notice that South Atlantic League batters are hitting only a paltry.163 against him, you can see that he's got his good stuff working. Refinement should bring out all that he can be which is obviously quite a bit. More than enough to satisfy even Scott himself.