2007 NEWS

2007 News > 5/2/07


By Kevin Kernan, NY Post
Original Article HERE.

HAVEN'T we've seen this before?

Aaron Heilman is still giving up big home runs. On a night that saw Mike Pelfrey make significant progress and David Wright snap out of his slump, Heilman took a close game and made a mess of it, surrendering a two-run homer to Josh Willingham in the eighth inning of the Marlins' 5-2 win over the Mets at Shea.

That blast was a back-breaker. Heilman gave up the two-run homer to St. Louis' Yadier Molina, the crushing blow to the Mets' season, last October.

"I was overthinking, trying to do too much," Heilman said of the 3-1 pitch that was left up. Considering the Mets preach nothing but pitching down in the zone, it was a monster mistake.

The Mets have some problems, and the inconsistent Heilman is one of them. While rookie reliever Joe Smith has done wonders, Heilman is a shaky proposition.

Maybe the right-hander should have the same talk with Tom Glavine that Pelfrey had Monday. When Pelfrey does get it together someday, he will have Glavine to thank.

"Tonight I put a lot of what he talked about to use," Pelfrey said.

Glavine does not force himself on young pitchers, but if they want his help, he is there. The lefty has incredible pitching wisdom, not just what he has learned during his Hall of Fame career, but what has been passed down to him from the likes of Johnny Sain, who was a pitching coach in the Braves organization during Glavine's formative years.

Interesting that Glavine learned so much from Sain, because when he was growing up, Glavine's father modeled his son's pitching on Warren Spahn - Spahn and Sain and two days of rain.

Pelfrey surrendered three first-inning runs and then settled down, pitching 61/3 innings. The rookie started using the Glavine Think Tank the other day in Washington and did deeper research Monday, sitting with Glavine during the loss to the Marlins.

"To me it's been more about the mental side of the game," Glavine said. "To get him to the point where he's having a better thought process out there on the mound, what he's trying to do, what he's trying to accomplish. Try to get inside his head on what he's thinking."

To do that Glavine, asks this question: "Are you trying to get the guy out or are you trying to avoid screwing up?"

"He has to take stock of himself," Glavine said, "and figure out, 'What am I doing?' I still go through something like that myself at this stage in my career where you are not quite locked into what you are doing, you don't quite trust what you're doing and sometimes you get in little ruts where you say to yourself, 'Throw this pitch and don't make a mistake.' "

Bottom line, it's all about confidence, especially with young pitchers. And Pelfrey is only 23. Three hours before last night's game he was running around the Mets clubhouse eating a red, white and blue ice pop.

After surrendering a three-run triple to Willingham, Pelfrey said it sunk in that he was fighting himself, and he stopped trying to throw everything 95 miles per hour.

A lot of young pitchers fall into that speed trap.

Glavine told Pelfrey that when things start going bad and the game starts to speed up, take a timeout. Take a break and think about what you are doing instead of trying to force the action.

"Walk around the mound for 30 seconds," he explained. "Slow the game down. The game is moving on your terms. Don't let the game take you out of your tempo when everything starts to speed up.

"Johnny Sain said to me years ago, when you get in a little bit of trouble, start taking a little bit off," Glavine added, a wonderful piece of pitching advice. "Hitters get more aggressive with guys on base with the RBI opportunity, so take advantage of that."

That and so much more was passed along to Pelfrey by Glavine. Now the big right-hander has the rest of his career to put those lessons into action.