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MASTERY TAKES LEAVE OF SUPPAN'S PITCHES


MASTERY TAKES LEAVE OF SUPPAN'S PITCHES
Ken Macha freely admits that Jeff Suppan's numbers are ugly.

It's not Suppan's $12.5 million salary that has the Milwaukee Brewers' manager concerned, it's the 12.91 ERA.

Suppan, the Brewers' opening day starter, has not made it beyond four innings in either of his two starts.

After getting roughed up by the San Francisco Giants in the opener, he was worse Sunday night against the Chicago Cubs. A control pitcher, Suppan walked six in 3 2 3 innings and threw a strike on the first pitch to just nine out of the 20 batters he faced, according to Macha's stats.

"For a command pitcher, which he is, that's a little low," Macha said. "Getting strike one, I think, is very important. Once you get behind in the count and you don't have the blazing fastball, then he's doing what he did (Sunday). He was missing his pitches. He was trying to cut it or sink it and stay on the edges of the strike zone. He wasn't throwing strikes."

The task of straightening out Suppan is one of the first big challenges facing new pitching coach Bill Castro, who said Suppan's problems are more in his head than in his arm.

"It's more a mental thing than anything else, trying to be perfect with your pitches instead of just reaching back and throwing it," Castro said. "Suppan isn't going to be a guy who lights up the (radar) gun. He's going to pitch 87, 88 (mph), but he's got to throw the ball.

"He's trying to be too fine. He's aiming the ball instead of throwing the ball. It's just a matter of time. We talked and he knows what he has to work on. Last year he did a little bit of that and he knows it's a problem. He's been around the block a few times so he knows what he has to do."

Macha is well aware that Suppan is the Brewers' highest-paid player. And while that status might buy him a little more time than a minimum-wage rookie, it doesn't secure a permanent job.

"I'm happy for him," said Macha when asked about the effect of Suppan's salary. "The way I look at it, we do have a little depth in Triple-A as far as starting pitching is concerned. But when you look at his history and the veteran that he is, instead of looking at how much money he's making, you've got to look at how we're going to get this guy pitching like he has in the past."

Suppan (0-2) has given up 11 earned runs in 7 2 3 innings this season. He's walked seven and struck out just two.

His bad start is particularly alarming considering the way he finished last season when he was 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA in September.

Remembering Kalas, The death of Philadelphia Phillies iconic broadcaster Harry Kalas was felt by a couple of his counterparts at Miller Park.

Bob Uecker, Milwaukee's equivalent to Kalas, spoke fondly of his longtime friend, who died Monday after collapsing in the broadcast booth before the Phillies' game against the Washington Nationals.

"It's a sad day," Uecker said. "He's one of my all-time favorite people - an easy-going guy and a great broadcaster not only for the Phillies but with the NFL. What a versatile, talented guy, and he never let you know. He was just Harry.

"We all go sooner or later, but it's sad. I'll miss him. He was a great guy. If you didn't like Harry Kalas, you didn't like anybody. A lot of people grew up with that guy."

One of those people is Bill Schroeder, the Brewers' television color analyst, who grew up listening to Kalas.

"It's like losing a family member," Schroeder said. "I grew up in New Jersey listening to him every day. When I heard that today, it was almost like I lost my own dad. What I'll never forget about Harry is that even though we only played the Phillies a few times a year, he'd always come in the booth and have something nice to say.

"It's really sad because he's one of the greats in the game. It's a rough day for the Phillies. It's losing a big part of Baseball. He had that great voice. Everybody loved to listen to Harry Kalas. Every time I listened to Harry, I felt like I was back in New Jersey as a kid."

Hot prospect

Mat Gamel, the Brewers' top hitting prospect, continued his hot start with his second home run of the season Monday night for Class AAA Nashville.

Gamel was 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in the Sounds' 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City. In the first five games, Gamel is batting .556 (10-for-18) with 10 RBIs. However, the 23-year-old third baseman also committed his third error of the season.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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