2007 NEWS

2007 News > 3/22/07

For One Day, Glavine Far Away From Big Leagues

By Steven Popper, NorthJersey.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There are plenty of curious events that occur only in spring training, but for Tom Glavine, even as he readies for his 20th full season, these days are hard to get used to.

With the team playing in Vero Beach at night, Glavine took the mound at Tradition Field against an assortment of minor-leaguers. And to the accompaniment of leaf blowers and the ground crew trying to sweep up the peanut shells around the legs of Omar Minaya and Fred Wilpon, Glavine got his work in.

In the sparse crowd were two children screaming at Glavine to throw them the ball as he walked from the mound to the dugout. They were his sons, Peyton and Mason, who chased every foul ball hit into the near-empty stands.

"It's very low intensity," Glavine said of this setting. "It's very different from pitching in a game, in a real game. Even though it's spring training, the intensity is still different. There's people watching. That all adds to it. One time during the spring it's not a big deal. It's more about the workload than anything else."

But it was still a strange workload. Glavine found himself pitching to minor-leaguers including Stephen Puhl, the son of Terry Puhl, whom Glavine had faced in the majors. And for a pitcher like Glavine who relies on outthinking the batter, he found himself facing batters who could not think with him.

"It's hard sometimes," Glavine said. "You get caught trying to do certain sequences and do things against those kids and it's hard because they don't know what you're doing. It's hard to set them up.

"At the same time I don't want to sit there and just throw all off-speed stuff because that's what they all tend to have trouble with at that level. That part of it is a little difficult. You try not to worry about that so much, try to make one pitch after another and see the spin and the location."

The strategy left Glavine pitching in a bizarre sort of game, sometimes requiring four outs to get his inning's worth of work in. Other times he had to abandon the inning midway through as he did in the fifth inning when three doubles were followed by two errors.

But in the end, he got in his seven innings and 90 pitches and declared himself another step closer to opening day. He will pitch again in five days and then get one extra day of rest before the April 1 start to the regular season in St. Louis.

"Tommy's ready," manager Willie Randolph said. "It doesn't take him a long time. He stretched out pretty good. It lets us look at some other guys. Tommy is a given, so we don't have to see him as much as we have to see some of the other guys."

The whole purpose of this exercise had little to do with Glavine. But it allowed the Mets to get another look at the pitchers on the fringes of the roster starting Oliver Perez on Wednesday night in Vero and penciling in Aaron Sele today in Orlando against the Braves.

For Glavine, though, the chances to get on a mound in spring training are dwindling his next one could be the last, not only for this year, but for his career.

"I'm trying not to think about that," Glavine said, smiling. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there."