- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"When you've had six or seven non-Robin Yount-like months, you begin to wonder things like, Am I getting old?" says Baylor. "But one thing you could see was that his closed stance was exaggerated. When we opened him up a little bit, it enabled him to pull some balls, and the field has opened up for him since. Of course, hitting the ball to rightfield is still his greatest strength. After he hit the homer off Ryan, I told him, 'I was worried about you.' He said, 'So was I.' Now I'd say he's back to where he was."
A Good Skate
The last Braves pitcher to win the National League's Pitcher of the Month award was Pascual Perez in 1983. The last Braves lefthander to win the honor was Warren Spahn in 1961. They were the last, that is, until Atlanta lefty Tom Glavine went 6-0 in May with a 1.76 ERA, walked six and struck out 33 in 46 innings.
Glavine, 25, was 8-2 at week's end with a league-leading ERA of 1.99. He had allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his 10 starts. This follows a 1990 season in which he struggled to a 10-12 record with a 4.28 ERA. Glavine, who was a standout high school hockey player in his hometown of Billerica, Mass., and a fourth-round choice of the Los Angeles Kings in the '84 NHL draft, says that competitiveness is something he learned from hockey and that it has helped him this year.
"After the 1989 season [when he was 14-8 with a 3.68 ERA], I thought I was going to take off," he says. "It didn't work out. People buried me, they talked bad about me. When I heard that garbage, I wanted to show them '89 wasn't a fluke."
He began to show them last September, when he went 4-1. "Last year I was trying to be too perfect, too fine," says Glavine, who walked 22 batters in the first inning of his games in 1990, but only two this season—both of them in his first start. "I want to dictate what I do rather than let the hitter dictate what I do," he says.
Glavine also points to the Braves' improved defense as a factor in his success. "There's no substitute for the way we're playing defense," he says. "In the past the pitchers just didn't throw well at times. But we didn't score a lot of runs, and the defense didn't always make the big play. So the pitchers took the rap, undeservedly."
There's no rap to be taken this year for the Braves, who were a game and a half out of first place through Sunday.
Managing a team may look easy from the bleachers, but it's harder than you think. So most managers employ a bench coach—a righthand man who is there to offer suggestions and support. Bud Harrelson of the Mets has had Doc Edwards since he took over as New York's skipper last season. Sparky Anderson of the Tigers has had Alex Grammas by his side for 12 seasons. Now Mariners manager Jim Lefebvre has Ron Clark. Clark has helped make Lefebvre less uptight on the bench.