2005 NEWS

2005 News > 3/13/05

TOM TERRIFIC IN SPRING

By Steve Popper, NorthJersey.Com

Tom Glavine began the game Saturday by swaying from side to side across the black of the plate, striking out an almost helpless David Eckstein. He ended his day by breaking the bats of the last two hitters he faced in a flawless performance.

While other pitchers are searching through the small towns of the Florida coast for that elusive groove, Glavine is already entrenched.

"Just beautiful to watch really," Mets manager Willie Randolph marveled after Glavine led the Mets to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "He knows how to do it. I love the way he changes speeds. That's the way he pitches. It's amazing to see how he keeps hitters off balance."

Glavine threw four innings without allowing a hit, facing just 12 batters. He walked his first batter of the spring, but wiped that out by inducing the next hitter into a double play. In three outings now this spring, totaling nine innings, Glavine has surrendered just six hits and not a single earned run.

"Any time you can go out there and get good results, it's a positive," he said. "As much as you're down here obviously trying to work on things with an eye on being in a certain place when it's time to get out of here, no matter how much you tell yourself you're working on stuff, you still need positive reinforcement.

"You can only tell yourself 'I'm trying to do this or I'm happy with that' for so long. If you don't get some results to go with it, you start to have some thoughts creep in a little bit that you're not quite sure. The more you can go out there and get the results the way you're looking for, the more confidence you're going to have to keep doing what you're doing."

For Glavine, there is nothing really to doubt right now. His location has been precise, his movement has been as if he had the ball on a string and he pitched with such ease Saturday that he had to add 24 pitches in the bullpen afterward to get his work done.

With Pedro Martinez taking the top spot in the rotation and much of the pressure and plaudits that come with it, Glavine has quietly asserted himself this spring, displaying the form that the Mets were counting on when they signed him two years ago. He has put up just a 20-28 record with the Mets after compiling a 242-143 record with Atlanta.

"You come in here and you hope that when you get on the mound you feel comfortable," Glavine said. "I think that's the biggest concern the first couple times out. From that standpoint, I feel comfortable. I'm as close to being locked in as I can be as far as my mechanics go.

"Now it's about building up some innings and some arm strength and extending yourself. From that standpoint, as pitchers we need every bit of spring training. You hope you get to that comfort level relatively early on so you can really use those later outings to extend yourself."