Lefty Barry Zito, whose start was pushed back a day from Friday to Saturday, said he needed the extra day because he felt some unusual pain in his ribcage after throwing a season-high 124 pitches last Sunday. Zito on Friday stressed that he's now pain-free.
"I think it's better that he can clear his head and spend a lot of time working on the stuff he and [hitting coach Gene Clines] have been trying over the last four days, and hopefully it'll click," Hendry said. "For his own good, and our good long-term, it seems like the right thing to do."
"I've got some young kids in the rotation that I thought about," Piniella said of changing his mind. "We're trying to develop a ball club as well as win baseball games here, so we just decided to stay the conventional way and that's it.
"It sounds intriguing. It may work, or it may not work, but we'll let somebody else try it first."
After a very rough start, Ted Lilly is starting to throw like the power lefty he is. With his seven shutout innings against the Atletics tonight, Lilly pitched well in four of his last five starts. Over that time he's posted a 2.03 ERA, striking out 26 in 31 innings and allowing just 2 home runs. He had given up 12 in his previous 12 starts.I did pick the Blue Jays to win last night, in part because of Lilly and in part because teams usually show travel fatigue after the first game of a road trip. And wouldn't you know it, someone wrote about just that.
Helton's skills have not gone away. He is a good bet to return with a vengeance in the second half of the season, making pitchers pay for his first-half misery. But it's a good thing he did not get the token call -- Mike Sweeney style -- to the All-Star Game. This year, he needs a break from the grind.
"I don't have an answer for it," Piniella said of the large difference in numbers. "If he were a young pitcher, he might not be used to a new ballpark, but a veteran pitcher ... I just don't have an answer."Hey Lou, how about this.
Piniella may not know the reason, but there is one thing he is sure of -- he will try to make sure to use the numbers to his advantage when determining his rotation....when just days before they purposely flipped Scott Kazmir and Nomo in the rotation; leaving Kazmir to finish the Twins series in the Metrodome and leaving Nomo to open the ChiSox series at Comiskey. That's puzzling.
That means using Nomo at home as often as he can.
"Every opportunity we get, we're going to try to do that," Piniella said.
Francona said he is not sure who will serve as closer in Foulke's absence, but Mike Timlin is the top candidate.
"This has sort of happened on the run," Francona said. "We want one of our main guys out there. If it's a tight game and we think we can win, we're going to use the guys we think can get outs. When you hear about bullpen by committee, you're open to failure because as a manager, there's not that concrete end in sight."
"He said my front leg was a little weak,'' Davies recalled Smoltz telling him, and added that he tried to finish his follow-through stronger on his landing leg this time. "That's why my balls have been up.''
The Dodgers have the farm system to land some players if they so desired to. I would think Huff would be the type of player that would interest the Dodgers GM, who came from Oakland and knows what OBP is.
"In my book, I think I went 4 for 4 today," he said. "I cannot hit any better than the way I hit those two balls."
Guillen has only one homer at RFK Stadium, the park that has yielded just 24 homers -- fewest in the majors. He said he doesn't believe the distances -- 380 feet to the alleys and 410 to center -- are accurate.
"To me, it's farther than that," Guillen said. "I know. I've got power."
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