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Insider

Here comes the left-hander ...

4/24/2006

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets were threatening in the seventh inning of their season opener against Washington when Cliff Floyd, a left-handed hitter, stepped to the plate with malice aforethought. As instinctively as breathing, Nationals manager Frank Robinson walked out of the dugout and signaled to the bullpen for lefty Joey Eischen.

Four pitches and a couple of hellacious sliders later, Floyd hit a weak grounder to third base, and the threat was history.

The broadcasters working the game might have called the sequence a textbook case of "playing the percentages." Floyd, not surprisingly, is tired of being singled out for such attention late in the game. His .279 career average against lefty pitchers is respectable enough. But he's encountered enough weird arm angles and deceptive deliveries to last a career.