September 28, 2021

Spring flings from Florida camps

March 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Leo Mazzone, pitching coach for the Braves during their entire 14-year string of divisional titles, tells a story about a mistake he made in 1991, the year the streak started.

The usually-reliable Tom Glavine got into trouble, prompting a mound visit from Mazzone. Just a few minutes later, he indicated a slight injury, causing the coach to rush out again.

But Mazzone, in his haste, neglected to inform the umpire that his second trip was because of injury. When the umpire asked who was coming in, Mazzone shrugged; no one was warming up!

Manager Bobby Cox asked Mazzone who could pitch without throwing first. Leo pointed to Mike Stanton, a durable lefthander who was promptly brought into the game — much to his surprise.

Stanton threw his eight warm-up pitches on the mound, then threw one pitch that counted. The batter lined into a double-play to end the inning and the Braves went on to win.

They also went on to win the NL East title that year by one game. Had Mazzone not made his mistake, that might not have happened.

Speaking of mistakes, the divorce of the McCourts in Los Angeles has been the biggest Dodger story of the offseason. The only holdup now, according to long-time Dodger fan Howie Siegel, is who gets custody of Tommy Lasorda.

Overheard at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter: executives from the Marlins and Mets predicting that the Braves will win the NL East.

Also overheard at Roger Dean: red-hot ro0kie rightfielder Jason Heyward talking to a New Jersey reporter. “Hey, I hear you were born in Ridgewood,” the writer said. “Were you born in Valley Hospital?”

Heyward said he was.

“That’s where Catherine Zeta-Jones had her baby,” said the writer. “Who’s Catherine Zeta-Jones?” Heyward asked. “Michael Douglas’ wife,” the writer said. Heyward then ended the exchange by saying “Who’s Michael Douglas?”

Heyward may be 20 but not to know two movie superstars is surprising, to say the least. Maybe someday people will say of Valley Hospital, “Hey, that’s where Jason Heyward was born!”

REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: Even if John Smoltz never pitches again, he won’t be able to join former Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 — he’ll have to wait an extra year . . . The Florida Marlins figure to have lots of home run power and decent starting pitching but could be sabotaged by sloppy infield defense . . . Minnesota is worried about closer Joe Nathan (elbow) while the rest of baseball is worried about Minnesota  (new open-air stadium) . . . Great trivia test: name 14 Hall of Famers who wore Mets uniforms (hint: some were coaches) . . . Doesn’t the Yankee outfield look a lot weaker without Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, and Hideki Matsui? . . . Do you believe Jay Horwitz (Mets) is the dean of active PR guys?

Coming soon: predictions for the 2010 season.

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