2006 NEWS

2006 News > 9/21/06

WITH HARD PART OVER, GLAVINE EYES PLAYOFFS

By M.A. Mehta, NJ Star-Ledger

NEW YORK -- The hardest part was not having control.

Tom Glavine had experienced the aches and pains before, but this was different.

This was scary.

When the veteran left-hander walked off the mound on Aug. 16 in Philadelphia, he experienced coldness in his left ring finger, a mysterious injury that could have altered more than just the Mets' path to the postseason. Uncertain of his immediate future, Glavine underwent an angiogram a few days later to determine whether he would need season-ending surgery to remove a blood clot in his throwing shoulder.

"Baseball meant nothing," pitching coach Rick Peterson remembered before the Mets faced the Marlins last night at Shea Stadium. "To even think about baseball was sacrilegious. I was sick. I just couldn't believe it. It would have been horrific if it where to end like this for him.

"At first, we thought there was no chance. Then we found out the next day that there was hope."

The test results revealed that Glavine didn't require surgery.

The 40-year-old left-hander has rebounded from a shaky first start in Houston to solidify his No. 2 spot in the rotation heading into the playoffs. Glavine has given up just five runs over his last 20 1/3 innings in his last three starts. He tied his season high of eight innings in a 3-2 win Tuesday night over the Marlins.

But he still remembers how close he came to shutting it down for the season.

"It put a big scare into me," said Glavine, who missed two weeks. "As an athlete, when you're in a position where you can't control something and feel helpless, that's not a good feeling. That was frustrating. I've always associated being hurt with saying it hurts right here or there. But nothing hurt. That was the strangest part of it."

Manager Willie Randolph has repeatedly said he doesn't worry about Glavine.

"Any time my pitchers pitch well, it always makes you feel real good," Randolph said. "Even if he would have pitched so-so (Tuesday) night, I still would have felt good about Tom Glavine. When the playoffs start, I'm confident he can go out there and win a game for me.

"I didn't leave (Tuesday) night's game thinking, 'Whoa!, I'm glad he pitched well because that might (carry over) into the playoffs.' It's a different mind-set when you get into the playoffs. I love the fact that he did some (good) things and when he's clicking on all cylinders, he can win for us."

Glavine (14-6, 3.92 ERA), who inched closer to the 300-win plateau by moving past Tommy John for 24th place on the all-time list with 289, said he has corrected his mechanics and put his midseason malaise behind him.

With Pedro Martinez's fickle calf problem and Glavine's 12-15 career postseason record, the viability of the rotation remains the primary concern heading into the playoffs.

"If you're going to break down this team, there aren't a whole lot of weaknesses," Glavine said. "The only kink in the armor is our starting rotation and how healthy it is. We have a pretty good track record. We've had some guys who have had some great postseasons, but we also have guys who have had great postseasons that are a little bit older. And that's a concern."

Glavine, who could turn into the team's most reliable starter if Martinez falters, said it was actually easier to prepare for October baseball.

"When you're in the postseason, it's so much easier to get in this mode of just winning this one game," Glavine said. "In the regular season, your mind is micromanaging a game with an eye on future games.

"In the postseason, none of that matters. It's easier to pinpoint your focus because today is all that matters."