Winning made difficult for veteran lefty
NEW YORK -- To say Tom Glavine has been on a long, crazy journey to career win No. 300 is putting it delicately, and perhaps not even accurately. Glavine's midsummer agenda is stacked with other business, including fixing his slightly out-of-synch mechanics, navigating the Mets out of their recent slump, and, like everyone else at Shea, waiting for Pedro Martinez to return so he can once again become the Mets' billboard of talent, charm and vanity.Pedro is tentatively scheduled to set foot in Flushing in early August -- as good as new, he promises, or maybe even better. Despite being on the disabled list with a surgically repaired shoulder, Martinez boasted to reporters last month he's already throwing harder than Roger Clemens.
"If I am the so-called No. 1 guy, and your No. 1 guy is not winning," he said, "then that kind of has a little bit of a reverberation throughout the team."Despite his experience and self-awareness on the mound, Glavine is human enough to press during slumps. It's not exactly panic -- Glavine is too mature for that -- but he finds himself trying to throw too hard. Trouble is, Glavine has been cursed with a fastball that tops out in the mid-80s, so the only result of overthrowing is his fastball gets stripped of its movement and location. Without those assets, Glavine's changeup suffers, too, meaning he's practically naked against aggressive, swing-for-the-planets lineups. It's only when Glavine is harnessing his velocity that he's most effective. Indeed, he says, "I throw 90, 95 percent. I very seldom throw 100 percent effort. It's comfortable for me, and I know where the ball is going." When he's in sync, Glavine is a textbook example of the three ways a pitcher can defeat a hitter: in and out (working the corners), up and down (changing a hitter's eye level) and back and forth (changing speeds). The only big-city component missing is the look-at-me quality that makes Pedro so special to the Mets -- and so antagonistic to opponents.
If I am the so-called No. 1 guy, and your No. 1 guy is not winning, then that kind of has a little bit of a reverberation throughout the team.
That's what Pedro does best. What's not to love?Bob Klapisch is a sports columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
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