Worrell: The Workhorse

Now with Nen out for the season, Felipe Alou has gotten creative with some bullpen choices, but the one man who has come most often in the tightest situations has been Tim Worrell.

During the 2000 offseason, General Manager Brian Sabean made another of those controversial moves he's so well known for: Giants fan favorite Bill Mueller for Cubs middle reliever Tim Worrell.

Fans went crazy. Mueller was a hardcore, gritty player… and to trade him for a starter turned reliever with a 4.32 career ERA? Unthinkable. What was Sabean smoking? After the 2000 NLDS heartbreak, this wasn't something Giants fans needed. Billy, as he is still affectionately referred to, had so much heart, and Worrell seemed to be nothing more than your typical journeyman reliever. Who was this "Tim Worrell" fellow anyway?

They would soon find out.

Tim Worrell has blossomed since joining the Giants. In 2001, Worrell had a 2-5 record and pitched 78.1 innings, allowing only 33 runs, 3 of which were unearned.

But it wasn't until 2002 did Worrell's true worth come out. The pitcher emerged as a steady, reliable workhorse, yet flexible and ready to come in during any jam. In 2002, Worrell had the best year of his career so far; in 80 appearances, Worrell pitched 72 innings and gave up only 21 runs on 30 walks and 55 strikeouts. Early on in the season, he unseated Felix Rodriguez as the setup man and still managed an 8-2 record.

Timothy Howard Worrell - born in Pasadena, CA on July 5, 1967, which makes 36 this year. Usually at this point, most guys are losing their stuff.

If at all possible, Worrell's just getting better.

After an offseason surgery, closer Robb Nen began the season on the 15-day DL. Felipe Alou announced that the team would have a -closer by committee- and for the most part that's been true. Jim Brower has 2, and Scott Eyre and Felix Rodriguez have one apiece.

But Tim Worrell's been the one Alou has been going to in a tight spot, and he has come through. Worrell has converted 11 of 12 save opportunities (tied with Eric Gagne and Jose Mesa for second in the league). In 20.2 innings pitched so far this year, he has struck out 19 while only walking 3.

Now with Nen out for the season, it looks like Worrell will be the main go-to guy in games decided by three runs or less. He's earned it; his last three saves have been the toughest of the year. Not to mention, his last three all came against the same team in the same series - that's right, three saves in three consecutive days in three games against the Fish. And in one of them, Worrell had to come in in the 8th with only one out. In 1.2 innings of work, Worrell only gave up a hit. That's it. A hit. Nothing else.

Worrell has still been the workhorse that he was last year. The Giants have played 34 games so far. He has appeared in 19 of them, usually in a save situation.

He is devoted and selfless, always putting his team first. Though Alou had intended to rest him the last game of the Marlins' series, Worrell saw that his team needed him in the ninth inning and insisted to Alou he was fine and ready to go. He pitched a perfect inning and struck out two.

So anyone still complaining about the Mueller-Worrell trade? That's what I thought.

Michelle Lo, also known as the Armchair Manager, writes recaps and other miscellaneous articles and designs some of the graphics at SFDugout.com. She can be reached by email at aznstarlite00@yahoo.com

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