2003 NEWS

2003 News > 3/10/03

GLAVINE JUST WANTS BROTHER TO GET A FAIR SHOT

By David Walsdstein, NJ Star Ledger

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Whatever happens with their new minor-league first baseman Michael Glavine, it's probably best that the Mets keep his older brother, Tom, informed. Tom Glavine keeps an eye out for his little brother, and doesn't appreciate when he gets mistreated, as he believes he was by the Braves a few years back.

The treatment of his brother factored that into Glavine's decision-making process this winter.

"That was certainly in the back of my mind," Glavine said. "What happened to Michael was something that left a lasting impression with me. Yeah, it was on my mind. It certainly played a part in my decision."

Tom Glavine would be the first to acknowledge prejudice when it comes to his brother. But he says he never asked the Braves for any favors. He didn't want the Braves to usher Mike through the system based on his connections, didn't even want them to give his brother more at-bats because of his last name. All he wanted was an answer for why the Braves never gave his brother a chance at Triple-A, releasing him from Triple-A Richmond early in the 2001 season.

"I never got one," Tom shrugged, sounding slightly agitated.

"We have scouts and talent evaluators that look at every player the same, regardless of their name," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said when asked about yesterday about the treatment of Mike Glavine.

Glavine felt that perhaps he had let his brother down, even if he wasn't the one directly responsible. Tom had lobbied the Braves to bring Mike over from Cleveland, the organization that drafted him, thinking Atlanta would be the best place for Mike, but it turned out not to be.

"I was disappointed, for him and for me," Tom said. "You tell somebody you're going to do something and you don't do it, it's disheartening."

Mike Glavine, like his more famous brother, is now a Met after spending the past season-and-a-half playing for the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League. He went through his first workout on the minor league side Saturday expecting nothing more than the chance to make the Triple-A Norfolk roster based on his talent. Obviously, being Tom's brother helped Mike somewhat, otherwise, he wouldn't even have been at the press conference Dec. 9 celebrating Tom's signing with the Mets, and wouldn't have had the chance to chat up assistant general manager Jim Duquette.

Duquette checked around. He talked to scouts who told him of Mike's impressive season with the Pats -- 21 home runs and 66 runs batted in last year -- and his solid performance in the Pann Am Games in Monterrey, Mexico last summer. When they eventually signed him to fight for a spot on the Triple-A roster, it wasn't about the Mets doing big brother Tom a favor. Glavine also had minor-league offers from the Dodgers, Reds and Brewers.

"I know people will say that I'm only here because of my brother," Mike said. "I hope that's not the case, and I don't think it is. I heard it before, but it didn't bother me because I knew I belonged."

When Duquette talked to the scouts who patrol the independent leagues and saw the Pan Am Games, he heard about a player with some power in his bat and -- like his brother -- a very good glove, someone definitely capable of playing Triple-A first base. But Mike almost didn't play in either the Pan Am Games or for Somerset because he was starting to think his playing days were over.

"When I got to Somerset (in 2001) I wasn't real happy," he said. "I was disappointed to be released (by the Braves) and I didn't want to be there. But I realized that if I couldn't be in affiliated ball, that was the next best thing."

Tom was never able to see Mike play for Somerset, but he listened to a few of their games on the Internet. And when Mike wavered on playing in the Pan Am Games, Tom talked him into it, telling him that it was a good opportunity for him to be seen. He was right.

"We got good reports on him," Duquette said. "Everyone said he played well down there."

Mike Glavine, now 30, was drafted by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 1995 amateur draft and put together some good power years, totaling 50 home runs in 239 games over his first two seasons. But he was stuck behind good minor-league first basemen there and so Tom suggested the Braves pick him up after the 1998 season. After two decent years for Atlanta's Double-A club, Mike had a fabulous spring training in 2001 and seemed destined to be Richmond's Triple-A first baseman. The Braves didn't think so. They traded for a minor-league first baseman, and after 23 games at Richmond, Mike was released.

"All he ever wanted was an opportunity to make the progression to Triple-A and either he can play or he can't," Tom said. "He never got an opportunity to play. He was hitting like .500 in spring training. If that doesn't define a good spring training, I don't know what does. He had a great spring, but with a week left in spring training they made a trade for a Triple-A first baseman and Michael never played."

Now Mike is starting over again, wearing a blue No. 47 jersey just like his brother, and all he's looking for, all he was ever looking for, is a chance.

"I'm going to let my play speak for itself," he said, "and if I can't cut it, I expect to be sent home just like anyone else."