Wagner anxious after week of no pitching

St. Louis – Braves closer Billy Wagner hadn’t pitched in a week, and said even veterans have a hard time staying sharp with that much time off.

“Oh, hell yes,” he said before Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. “It’ll be no fun when I come in the game, and I’m sure it won’t be any room for error. It should be about a one-run game with [Albert] Pujols coming up.”

He wasn’t complaining. He knows the situation comes with the territory for a closer whose team is struggling.

The Braves had a six-game losing streak before Tuesday, the last four  losses coming on the current trip – three at New York over the weekend, and a 4-3 defeat in Monday’s series opener at St. Louis.

“Especially on the road it’s hard” to get regular work for the closer, said Wagner, 38. “Because you can’t work him into a game like last night, into a tie game. I mean, that could be a situation where you come in, throw an inning, you don’t take the lead….”

But there’s only so long the closer or any other reliever can sit.

“There will be a time where Bobby [Cox] is going to have to throw me out there for more than an inning,” he said, “because I’m going to have to get some innings. I can’t keep doing this, because you get rusty, you’re not sharp. And the way we’re going, every time I step out there is going to be a have-to-win, so you can’t afford to [be rusty]. I’ve thrown bullpens and stayed as sharp as I can, but it’s tough.”

Then he smiled and said, “But that’s why we get paid the big bucks.”

Before Tuesday, the last time Wagner pitched was the Braves’ last win April 20 against Philadelphia, when he worked a perfect 10th inning to close it out.

That was third consecutive hitless, scoreless appearance for the left-hander, who’s 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in six appearances this season, with three hits, two walks and 11 strikeouts in six innings.

He has converted one of two save opportunities, and both runs against him this season (as well as two of three hits he’s allowed) came in his April 9 blown save at San Francisco.

In Monday’s game, Wagner watched as pals Peter Moylan and Takashi Saito had a rough night, Moylan allowing the tying run on a two-out double in the seventh and Saito taking the loss after giving up a run in the eighth on two doubles and an intentional walk.

“When you run out there as much as a reliever does, you’re going to have some games where, no matter whether you’re throwing well or you’re not throwing well, things aren’t going to go your way,” Wagner said.

“You feel bad about it. You want to work on stuff, but you’ve got to be careful, too, because if you go out there and throw a lot of bullpens [side sessions] and try to correct yourself, you’ve got to pitch that night. So it’s one of those things where you can wear yourself down by trying to do too much to mentally get yourself back.

“Sometime you’ve just go to step away and say, ‘You know what? I’m fine. I made a mistake, and I’ve just got to get out there more.’ They’re going to be fine. They’re the least of the worries.”

11 comments Add your comment

chin music

April 27th, 2010
8:24 pm

to reverse their luck, maybe the braves should let wags start, have saito pitch the second, use moylan to get the first couple outs in the third, then let kk finish the last six-and-a-third.

Marko

April 27th, 2010
8:24 pm

Nothing is going right for the Braves these days. This will be another way to lose – Wagner is rusty and gives up a run in the 9th. Hopefully the rest will pay off in the long run.

J-MAN

April 27th, 2010
8:30 pm

This losing streak goes to 10

Marko

April 27th, 2010
8:37 pm

This might sound dumb, but I always secretly thought a NL team should do something like this when they are on the road:

Bobby Cox inserts Jurjens as the SP for tonights game and bats 9th (or better yet, 8th). Braves bat in top of 1st. The Braves get a bunch of hits/walks and they bat thru the lineup. When Jurjens is due up, he is pinch hit for Conrad or Infante. Then, when it goes to the bottom of the 1st, Bobby then has D.Lowe go to the mound and pitch as that was planned all along. Everything is the same as it would have except that the pitcher didn’t need to bat.
Of course, right when I say this, Lowe gets a hit.

If they don’t make it to that position in the top of the 1st (like they do these days), then no big deal, do a switch and send D.Lowe to the mound to pitch in the bottom of the 1st and take over batting 8th or 9th.

Don't-win-it-4Bobby-but-4the-FANS

April 27th, 2010
9:02 pm

After going hitless over the first 17 games, Braves pitchers Hanson, Hudson and Lowe) have a 3-game “hitting streak”. (

Justafan

April 27th, 2010
9:10 pm

Milky has hits in his last 5 games and 1 for 2 tonight with run, rbi…maybe he’s adjusting to NL.

MitchC

April 27th, 2010
9:11 pm

Dave, such is the problem with the new age one inning closer who only pitches with a lead. In old time baseball, up until the 70s and 80s, you would see closers come in during tie games, and for two or three innings. I was at a game once in New York where Bruce Sutter pitched three innings for a save, while he was a Brave.

Hopefully the Braves will win, tonight, so Wagner can get some work, but Bobby really needs to put him in a game, regardless of situation, or he will be rusty, when we may need him for a sav,e when the game is on the line

Justafan

April 27th, 2010
9:12 pm

LUDWICK, Holy Cow upper deck………

Don't-win-it-4Bobby-but-4the-FANS

April 27th, 2010
9:12 pm

Marko
About your comment: that’s a good idea if you’re playing on a videogame. In real life, why would you risk wasting a position player in the first inning? That “strategy” would only pay dividends if you instead of using a position player use a good hitting pitcher like Zambrano, Owings, Hampton, etc.

kwajbraves

April 27th, 2010
11:27 pm

The pain continues 7 losses and counting… Please let April be gone! I want to stay positive but the Braves are the new Nationals. Maybe the silver lining is that 2010 bad season will equal to empty seats and Liberty sells the Braves to somebody who really care.

ChippersWorkEthic

April 28th, 2010
12:27 am

first….haha……wow, this team is flat out awful..as bad as the 08 team. I think they
are already out of it. They’ve lost 7 straight and were no hit last week. I think the organization
needs a face lift. Fire Wren and hire a competent GM, and hire a younger manager next season..face it folks, this season is already a wash..i’m glad i didnt’t buy any tickets to see them play…

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