Monday, June 3, 2013
Rivera won't reconsider retiring
By Buster Olney
Mariano Rivera missed all of 2012 with a knee injury, but you wouldn't know it from his performance.
Mariano Rivera is almost perfect as a reliever this season, with 19 saves and a 1.77 ERA, the sort of numbers that don’t square with the fact that he is 43 years old and announced his retirement back in March.
This isn’t quite Gale Sayers walking away from his sport, or Jim Brown, because those guys were much younger when they retired, but it is unusual for someone to quit while at the top of his profession, which is why he was asked again Sunday, in conversation, if there is any chance he would reconsider. His explanation was classic Rivera.
He is devout in his faith, and he said that before this year, he asked for the Lord’s blessing for his final season -- to go through the year with his health, and with the kind of grace for which he prayed. Inspired by the show "Undercover Boss," Rivera and Yankees media relations man Jason Zillo came up with an idea that they hoped would work, something different, in which Rivera would arrange meetings with fans and employees of other teams.
That has gone as he had hoped it would, and he has been touched by the people he has spoken with, he said.
So he has received precisely what he asked for from God, he explained. And he does not want to take that blessing for granted. He feels as if there is a compact in place -- in return for what he asked for, he will walk away -- and he will honor it.
“I don’t care if I get 100 saves,” he said. “I don’t care if they offer me $50 million. That’s it.”
• What scared folks last night at Yankee Stadium was a lightning strike. After this, a lot of the stoic security personnel who line the field during rain delays rushed off; they had had enough.
• The other day, I asked David Ortiz what his thinking is at the plate, and he had a simple answer: “Away.” He looks for something to take to left field or left-center field. And this chart shows he’s having a lot of success with that.
Around the league
From ESPN Stats & Information, more on Domonic Brown and Patrick Corbin, two young players who are starting to put up impressive numbers lately. Corbin is having a lot of success in this, his second season, while Brown’s story is that of a top prospect who took four seasons to reach his potential.
BIO BLAST: CORBIN • Age 23, Born in Clay, N.Y.
• Drafted by Angels in second round of 2009 amateur draft
• Acquired on July 25, 2010 from Angels a part of Dan Haren trade
• 6-8, 4.54 ERA in 22 games (17 starts) as a rookie last season
• First pitcher to nine wins this season
• From Elias: Corbin improved to 9-0 with a 2.06 ERA on Sunday. He is the fourth pitcher in the past 75 years to go 9-0 or better with such a low ERA through his first 11 starts of a season. The others were Juan Marichal in 1966 (10-0, 0.80 ERA), Sonny Siebert in 1971 (9-0, 1.77 ERA) and Roger Clemens in 1997 (10-0, 1.85).
• Corbin’s win streak of nine straight decisions to start the season matches the best streak by a pitcher to start the season in Diamondbacks history (Brandon Webb, 2008). The Diamondbacks have won his past 12 starts dating back to last season.
• Corbin is the first lefty, age 23 or younger, to start a season 9-0 or better since 1973 (Roger Moret started 11-0 for the Red Sox).
Best pitch: slider • 43 strikeouts with his slider is most among NL starters.
• Miss percentage of 52.1 is most among NL starters.
• In play percentage of 17.1 is lowest among NL starters.
• Chase percentage of 44.2 is tied for third among NL starters.
BIO BLAST: BROWN • Age 25, Born in Zephyrhills, Fla.
• Drafted by Phillies in 20th round of 2006 draft.
• Phillies top prospect 2008-10
• This season set career highs in at-bats (202), hits (57), HR (16) and RBIs (40).
• In May, became first player in MLB history with at least 10 homers in a calendar month without a walk.
• Leads NL in HR (16).
• First Phillies player since Ryan Howard in 2006 to hit at least eight homers in a nine-game span.
• From Elias: Seven homers during current seven-game hitting streak. The only other Phillies players to hit safely in seven straight games while homering seven or more times are Chuck Klein (July 1929 and September 1930), Mike Schmidt (April 1976 and July 1979) and Chase Utley (April 2008).
Best hitting zone
Brown was once one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball and appears to be delivering on his almost-forgotten promise. How is he doing it? By a distinct adjustment -- handling pitches up in the zone more effectively and being more aggressive in swinging at those pitches.
Through 2012, he had hit .200 and slugged .323 on pitches "up" in the zone. This year, those numbers are .350 and .875, respectively. He's swinging at 53.5 percent of such pitches, which is the 11th-highest rate in the majors.
• The Phillies shut down the Brewers Sunday, led by Cliff Lee. From ESPN Stats & Info, how Lee won:
A. His seventh double-digit strikeout game without a walk since the start of 2010, the most in the majors in that span.
B. He threw strikes: 81 of 105 pitches were strikes. His strike percentage of 77.1 was his highest of the season and fifth best since 2009.
C. His fastball was out pitch: seven of 11 K's were from that pitch (tied for his third most since 2009).
D. He got batters to miss: They took 21 swings and misses (his most since 2009).
• I think Yadier Molina really cares and really wanted a hit in this situation, and 95 percent of the reason why he slammed down his helmet was because he was frustrated that he had grounded out. I think if the umpire had paused just a beat he would’ve realized this, too.
• The Dodgers are fully cognizant of all the possible downside in Yasiel Puig at this stage in his career, as he ascends to the big leagues. His understanding of simple fundamental defense and baserunning is lacking, or he just hasn’t placed a priority on it. He had issues with elementary stuff such as calling off other fielders on pop flies and showing up to work on time.
But as one of the Dodgers’ folks said in spring training, the intangible impact of Puig is so great that it’s tangible. His energy rubs off on other players, and his enthusiasm will naturally nudge others to play hard; he attacks the game like a linebacker. There’s probably a pretty good chance this is not going to work out, given his overaggressiveness at the plate -- pitchers will take advantage of that, in all probability -- but he has the kind of raw, Bo Jackson-type talent that makes it worthwhile for the struggling Dodgers to give it a shot.