Friday, February 19, 1999
Closer candidates don't mind sharing
Graves, White the main men in 9th inning
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SARASOTA, Fla. Reds manager Jack McKeon has run teams with solo closers and bullpens-by-committee. He watched Mark Davis secure 44 saves and the National League Cy Young Award with San Diego in 1989, and he had Doug Bird and Gene Garber combine for 31 in Kansas City in 1973.
Given a choice, McKeon would prefer to have one man fill the closer's role. If you've got Trevor Hoffman, fine, he said Thursday, referring to the San Diego ace who had a major-league high 53 saves last season.
But the Reds don't have Trevor Hoffman anymore, so it looks like a committee approach in the their bullpen. Danny Graves and Gabe White are expected to share the job, with help from John Hudek and possibly Stan Belinda or Scott Sullivan.
Graves, who converted all eight of his save opportunities in 1998, and White, who was 9-for-13 in his first full year as a reliever, seem to be a decent alternative.
Hopefully one of these guys will emerge, someday, as the guy who takes the bull by the horns, McKeon said as Reds pitchers and catchers conducted their first formal workout at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. If they don't, it's nice to have two. I think a lot of undue pressure is put on guys when you say, "Hey, he's the closer.'
REDS RELIEF DUOS |
Save totals for some notable Reds bullpen combos: |
1970: Wayne Granger 35, Clay Carroll 16.
1972: Clay Carroll 37, Pedro Borbon 11.
1975: Rawly Eastwick 22, Will McEnaney 15.
1979: Tom Hume 17, Doug Bair 16.
1985: Ted Power 27, John Franco 12.
1986: John Franco 29, Ron Robinson 14.
1990: Randy Myers 31, Rob Dibble 11
1992: Norm Charlton 26, Rob Dibble 25.
Graves and White are well-suited for this arrangement. Since Graves is right-handed and White is a lefty, McKeon can alternate them strategically. Their styles also differ, as Graves relies on sinking fastballs and White pounds hitters inside. And they're close friends off the field, so jealousy isn't a problem.
I'd like nothing more than to split 50 saves right down the middle, said White, 27. I don't know if you can find too many guys who'll say that, because 50 saves will get you more money than 25 ... If I made $500,000 for the next 10 years, I'd be thrilled.
White added, I'm sure (General Manager) Jim Bowden would like to hear that.
Both Graves and White wouldn't mind if Hudek, Belinda and Sullivan lend a hand. Hudek, formerly Houston's closer, was 4-2 with a 2.43 ERA in 30 appearances with the Reds after coming over in a trade from the New York Mets last season; Belinda amassed 53 saves from 1991-93.
All of us can do it, said Graves, 25. If four of us get 10 saves, that's 40 saves. That's not bad at all.
Graves' brief major-league trials with Cleveland and the Reds in 1996-97, when he generated a 5.01 ERA, did not portend greatness. But his role pitching in 10-0 ballgames, as he put it hardly groomed him for stardom.
After he was summoned from Triple-A Indianapolis on May 14, and once Jeff Shaw's trade to Los Angeles opened up the closer's role, Graves seized his opportunity.
The main thing was getting confidence in myself, he said. The last few years I'd always have good years in the minor leagues, and every time I got a chance in the big leagues it never seemed to jell. There was always that thing in the back of my head saying, "I wonder if I can do it?' Then last year they gave me the chance and I proved to myself I could.
Despite spending most of his previous eight seasons in pro fessional baseball as a starter, White adjusted quickly to relieving. His transition was only occasionally awkward.
The first game I closed, I think I struck the last guy out and I didn't know where to go or what to do, he said.
As was the case with Graves, White displayed closer potential after Shaw was dealt to the Dodgers on July 4. Though he shares the ninth-inning burden, he likes having a somewhat defined role. Rather than just, "You're in the bullpen; you're going to pitch whenever we tell you to pitch,' he said.
Now there's no turning back for White.
I look back and try to remember what I did the four days when I wasn't starting, he said. I don't want to go through that anymore.
Shade picks Redskins
Johnson to punt for Patriots
Bengals mulling quarterbacks
Ambrose on hold
For Reds, it's addition by inaction
Astros still better than Reds
Area senior stars invited to NBA camps
Ohio boys basketball scores
Ohio girls basketball scores
Kentucky boys basketball scores
Kentucky girls basketball scores
CINCINNATI GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP
N.KY. GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP
CovCath star wins 'That's My Boy'
That's My Boy: An award fit for a King
Quincy beats NKU men in OT
SPORTS ON TV-RADIO
XU's Turner suspended one game
Once a power, UMass now struggling to score
UC baseball team aims for improvement