2007 NEWS

2007 News > 3/1/07

WELL-OILED GLAVINE STILL RUNS SMOOTH

By Jeremy Cothran, Star-Ledger

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson loves to use analogies when working with his pupils. But was he serious when he compared Tom Glavine to a run-of-the-mill Toyota Camry?

"In the (Indianapolis) 500, you have 10 guys working on a car," Peterson said with a grin, "and that car can only go a few times around the track before they have to work on it again. Too much speed. A Toyota Camry, if you change the oil and treat it right, it can go for hundreds of thousands of miles."

Hence the reason the Mets ace -- just 23 days shy of his 41st birthday -- is out to show he's still got a bit of tread left on the tires.

"I think there's no question when I look at myself now, as opposed to five years ago or three years ago, I'm a better pitcher," Glavine said, "in terms of things that I could do or ways I can get hitters out."

Glavine looked sharp in his two innings of work yesterday in a 4-3 Grapefruit League victory over the Cardinals. He allowed no runs, no hits and just one walk with an efficient use of 24 pitches. It was such an easy day that Glavine was able to knock out a few interviews, shower, change and presumably hit the golf course with plenty of daylight to spare.

Because the Mets have so many questions concerning their pitching rotation, Glavine's outing could help to ease those fears.

In the first inning, he set down Cardinals hitters Aaron Miles, Chris Duncan and Albert Pujols in order. The only gaffe came in the second inning when he grazed St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen with an inside fastball. Most of Glavine's success was with his bread-and-butter changeup, but he was also able to throw strikes with a two-seam cut fastball and a slower version of his curveball.

"He had good command," reserve catcher Ramon Castro said. "He threw his curveball for strike, his changeup and his cutter. He's throwing more inside against the right-handers."

The latter was evident against Pujols. Despite the fact that Glavine's fastball moves like a senior citizen in the slow lane on a Florida highway, he still challenged the Cardinals' hulking slugger on the inside portion of the plate and induced an easy ground out.

"When you throw as fast as Glavine," Peterson said. "You have to work the ball in and out, back and forth, up and down. You've got to give hitters multiple looks. ... Most (pitchers) can't find that skill."

Early reviews in spring training suggested it could take Glavine a while to find that groove.

Glavine said he wasn't comfortable with several batting practice sessions he threw earlier in spring training. Nor was he too pleased with one of his side throwing sessions. That all changed once he was able to get on the mound and away from the L screen.

"Once I got out there, everything seemed to be comfortable," Glavine said. "Everything flowed nicely."

Glavine said throughout the offseason he believes this may be his last year, provided he gets 10 wins to reach 300 for his career. Peterson said Glavine is in the right physical condition to tack on several more years, should he desire.

Peterson said Glavine has incorporated some Pilates workouts into his regimen this offseason to help improve flexibility and lengthen his muscles. Given his history of avoiding the disabled list and his National League record of 635 consecutive starts, why couldn't Glavine pitch long enough to help christen the opening of Citi Field in 2009?

He feels young enough, that's for sure.

"In terms of the whole age thing," Glavine said. "I don't feel like there's anything that I want to do, or wish that I could do that I can't that I could do five years ago, or two years ago. Physically speaking, everything is still there.

"Some days you get up and it's a little harder to get going than when you were 30 years old, but that's natural for everybody."