Relieved for a Reliever

Having 10 years of experience under his belt, Tim Worrell was the answer for the Giants and Felipe Alou. He would come in on 7th and 8th inning on occasion to start the closing job for Robb Nen. Once the 9th inning comes around, Worrell got a pat on the back and a job well done as he trotted the field and Nen trots on. At the start of the 2003 season, Worrell gets his chance. Worrell has had his share of disappointments, but so far, he's been phenomenal as the Giants' closer.

Being a reliever in the major leagues is not an exciting job. When your service is needed, you are called upon to warm up in anywhere from 10-30 minutes, then sometimes you are asked to sit back down, because you are no longer needed, and other times you are asked to clean up after a guy who is tired of doing what he's doing. Okay, let's not get too negative here, the main point is that relievers are not recognized baseball stars in the sport, they just aren't. Whether this is right or not, let's leave it to personal opinion. Although most relievers are satisfied with their position in the league and on the team, some are asked to rise to the occassion to help out a team plagued with injuries.

Alright, not plagued, but injuries were a serious issue for the Giants. Brian Sabean had another issue at hand during the off-season following the 2002 season: how to improve the current team so they will win the next World Series. Okay, painful memories being brought up again, but just for the sake of writing this article, I promise. The first few moves that the Giants made were to resign closing pitcher Robb Nen and reliever Tim Worrell. Pitching was a big issue not only during the regular season, but especially during the playoffs. The Giants needed to find solid starters as well as genuine relievers, and what better place to start than with Robb Nen and Tim Worrell? Giants' fans everywhere were relieved once this news came along, seeing better hopes for the Giants' pitching department. Fans and players held their breath when Nen underwent shoulder surgery during the off-season. He came out of the surgery with hopes of being ready for spring training. But as things are never perfect and in place, Nen's return was too soon and he was placed on the disabled list with an injury unrelated to his earlier one on March 31 after pitching one inning in a spring training game against the Oakland A's. With Nen sitting in the dugout, manager Felipe Alou turned to Tim Worrell. With some uncertainty and not knowing what reactions to expect, Worrell closed the pre-season game against the A's and earned his first save against the Padres in the Giants' first regular season game. This erased all doubt as fans watched the Pasadena native impressively save three games and pick up one win in seven games. Alou has no trouble calling on the ten year veteran whenever his pitchers are in need to get out of a jam.

Now, what will happen when Nen returns? The team and fans are in high hopes of bringing Nen back, but as his fifteen day wait on the injury list was coming to an end, discouraging news was announced. Nen will not be ready after the fifteen day wait, but he will be off the disabled list on Monday, April 14. He may start lightly tossing pitches on the weekend of April 12. The training staff does not want to bring Nen back too soon because of the mistake of Nen returning to spring training and injurying himself again. Nen's progress is a little slow and is not completely where the training staff wants it to be, and Nen is also still suffering minor pains on his shoulder. The training staff wants to wait out the month of April rather than risk bringing Nen back and placing him on the disabled list again in May.

With thoughts of Nen being healthy and ready to pitch again, Alou and pitching coach Dave Righetti will waste no time in bringing him back in the ninth inning. Worrell will still have the suitable job as a reliever, and now that everyone has seen the ability of Worrell to rise to the occassion, don't be too suprised if you see Alou picking up the phone in the dugout to give Tim the call when the Giants have a one point lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning.

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