- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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The two most influential pitching coaches in the Atlanta organization—Bob Gibson, who works with the Braves, and Johnny Sain, who instructs the minor-leaguers—have theories as different as the fastball and changeup that were their respective trademarks during their sterling pitching careers. Johnny doesn't give a hoot about Gibson's ideas and Bob thinks some of Sain's are insane. Even so, they have combined to develop a formidable staff, which had the best earned run average (3.06) in the major leagues at the end of last week.
Gibson, in his second year with the Braves, wants pitchers to be aggressive, get ahead on the count and challenge hitters. Sain, who has been the minor league coach for five seasons, and has helped develop five of the 10 arms on the Braves' staff, emphasizes the value of outthinking batters. Gibson likes pitchers to train with weights during the off-season and to do plenty of running. Sain prefers that they eschew weights and run only when the urge arises.
"He pitches backward, like Sain teaches him," says Gibson of Rick Mahler, one of Johnny's disciples. "He pitches ball one, ball two and then goes after the batter. You can't do that."
"Sure, there are differences, but what's wrong with that?" Sain asks. "Shouldn't a man take the information available and use it the way he wants? In the end, they're going to pitch the way they want to, based on everything that's been taught them.
"What's aggressiveness? You can be aggressive through a change of speed.
What are you going to do, try to overpower every batter? You take away the element of surprise if you do that. I was released four times when I was in Class D ball because I didn't have velocity. But in the end I made it to the majors, and I did it by throwing breaking balls and off-speed pitches."
On May 4, Mariner Public Relations Director Randy Adamack asked Manager Rene Lachemann to be in the dugout at 3 p.m. for an interview with a female reporter from a certain national weekly sports magazine. After the woman asked Lachemann a few questions, she clicked on a tape player. As the song The Stripper blared forth, she peeled off all her outer clothing. Only later did the startled Lachemann learn that the Mariners had decided to give him a unique present on his 38th birthday, delivered by a woman from Strip-A-Gram.
The man who gives the pay has the say. In Oakland, First Baseman Kelvin Moore and Shortstop Tony Phillips continue to hold starting jobs despite sub-.200 batting averages because President Roy Eisenhardt wants to develop players who can be signed to long-term contracts. "That's the only way to protect a franchise these days," says Eisenhardt.... In Philadelphia, Manager Pat Corrales would like to see veteran Reliever Tug McGraw handed his release, but President Bill Giles and General Manager Paul Owens won't go along. "We believe in Tug," says Giles. "He's done a lot for this organization."
Cincinnati's Cesar Cedeño, who has switched from centerfield to right, removed himself from the lineup in Philadelphia one night last week because his shoulders were sore from banging into fences. "I'm not having trouble judging the ball," Cedeñno said. "I'm having trouble judging the wall. I had so much room in center and I'm still adjusting to right."
"That board is a disgrace," says Umpire Bruce Froemming of the big new Diamond Vision screen at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium, where replays of controversial calls were shown recently. Harry Wendelstedt, the acting chief of that umpiring crew, went to Pirate Executive Vice-President Pete Peterson between games of a doubleheader and demanded that replays not be shown. Peterson acquiesced. However, Angel Executive Vice-President Buzzie Bavasi said he would start showing replays in Anaheim. "We've protected the umpires long enough by not putting the replays on the board," said Bavasi.