2005 NEWS

2005 News > 5/6/05


By David Lennon, NY Newsday

After twin beatings by the Braves and Phillies, the dreaded T-word has come up with Tom Glavine, who has examined both of those ugly outings for evidence that he might be tipping his pitches. Glavine says he feels fine, his velocity has never been better and the separation between his fastball and changeup is right where it should be, roughly eight to 10 mph. That's why he's been wondering if he's dropping hints to opposing hitters.

"I always worry about that," Glavine said. "I'm a believer that every pitcher, if you watch them close enough, they're doing something. It's just whether or not guys pay attention. I always feel like there's something that I do, but I'm not 100 percent sure, so from time to time, I'll go watch or have somebody else watch and tell me.

"Nobody's told me that they've seen anything, but I think that's part of it. It's a fine line between trying to make sure you've got your bases covered and going too far trying to find out something that's wrong."

The Braves and Phillies definitely were comfortable facing Glavine, throttling him for 18 hits and 15 runs in eight innings, but it is unrealistic to think that teams suddenly have deciphered his code.

At this time last year, Glavine was 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA, and opponents were batting .208 against him. This season, he is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA, and teams are hitting .320. But Glavine is not sold on the tipping theory.

"I don't think so," Glavine said, "because when I'm able to make a pitch that I'm trying to make - spot, location, speed, everything - they're not taking good swings. If they knew it was coming, and they're still not getting a good swing at it, that either tells you your stuff is still there or they're not seeing something and they're still getting fooled."

After Tuesday's loss to the Phillies, Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd said hitters seem to have a better strategy against Glavine lately, which is nothing more complicated than waiting for Glavine to come to them. One NL player said that never happened in the past, as Glavine would pick up two easy strikes on the outside edge - or beyond - and then have the batter chasing down in the count. But QuesTec has helped to eliminate that kill zone for Glavine, and his early failure this season has spawned some second-guessing, both on the mound and the four days between starts.

"You play for 18 years, guys are going to know what you're trying to do," Glavine said. "Now what do I do to try and combat that? Do I pitch in a little more? Do I pitch in a lot more? Do I change my pattern once in a while? It doesn't take a lot for a hitter to say, 'Hey, wait a minute, he just did something different,' and then everybody in the dugout knows.

"A lot of times you go overboard trying to make changes. The bottom line is I know what I do well, and what I do well is locate my pitches. If I don't locate my pitches, I'm going to struggle. Hopefully, not this bad."

Glavine was particularly miffed by the 3-and-2 changeup that Pat Burrell clobbered into the leftfield parking lot during the first inning Tuesday. The pitch was low and away, but Burrell still reached down and pulled a 450-foot home run. Burrell could have just as easily fouled it off, but as Glavine well knows, when things are going badly, the luck is terrible, too.

"Everybody can talk all they want about how I'm losing my stuff, I'm getting old, I'm getting this, I'm getting that," Glavine said. "When I make pitches, I get guys out. When I don't, I get hit. It's as simple as that. All I've got to do is get to the point where I'm making pitches seven or eight out of 10 times instead of three or four out of 10 times. That's not going to get it done."

As Glavine spoke yesterday, pitching coach Rick Peterson settled into the vacant chair of Steve Trachsel, Glavine's neighbor to the left. Peterson had his notes and charts in hand, ready to get to work on fixing his No. 2 starter.

"Why don't you leave him alone," Peterson joked, "so we can get to the next step."

With Glavine scheduled for Sunday in Milwaukee, the clock is ticking.