Wags, Chipper know about homers on 100-mph heaters

It was Sunday morning, a day after Chipper Jones beat Detroit with a three-run homer on a Joel Zumaya 100-mph fastball.  The Braves third baseman and closer Billy Wagner were in the clubhouse, talking about homers and triple-digit heaters.

Two 38-year-old graybeards, swapping “war” stories like Hooper and Quint in the movie Jaws, just without blood and scars.

“If it’s straight enough, you can time a jet plane,” Jones said, referring to a baseball axiom about straight fastballs being hittable no matter the velocity.

“If it’s got a little sink to it, it’s a little tougher,” Jones said, smiling. “Ain’t that right, Wags?”

Wagner was at his locker a few feet away.

“Believe it,” Wagner said. “The harder you throw it, the farther it goes.”

Wagner can tell a story about as well as anyone in baseball, with passion and details.

Someone asked if Wagner ever gave up a homer on a 100-mph fastball.

“Vinny Castilla did it back-to-back nights to me,” Wagner said.

“Vinny could do it,” Jones said. “You couldn’t get a fastball by him.”

Wagner recalled facing Castilla in the late ’90s, when Wagner was with Houston and Castilla was one of Colorado’s Blake Street Bombers.

“I lost my closer role in ‘97 because of it,” Wagner said. “I had him 0-2, threw a fastball here [he motions up and in] at 100, he took me deep in the Astrodome.

“Next night, I rolled out there, had him 0-2, threw a pitch up in here [higher and in] to knock him back off the plate. Then I came back in here and he took me deep again. Thanks for coming, you just blew the game and lost your job. How’s that treat you?”

Wagner said both homers were on 100-mph fastballs (he threw that hard with regularity at that point in his career).

He was right about Castilla taking him deep twice in the ninth inning in 1997, both times with two outs in the final inning, both at the old Houston Astrodome, both in Colorado wins.

Wagner’s memory of the dates was a little off. Castilla hit a game-winning homer off him in the 10th inning on April 28, 1997, and a three-run game-winner off him in the ninth inning on Aug. 23, 1997.

But, hey, it was 13 years and a whole lot of games ago.

Wagner health update

After getting a cortisone injection near his sore left ankle Saturday night, Wagner pronounced himself fit to pitch after testing it out in the bullpen Sunday morning.

He gave manager Bobby Cox a thumbs-up as Wagner walked past him in the dugout before Sunday’s game, but Cox indicated he wasn’t sure if he’d use Wagner before checking to be sure the medical staff agreed.

Wagner has been bothered more than a week by soreness from an irritated nerve near the ankle. He recorded his 400th career save by striking out the side in the ninth inning Friday, but was unable to pitch Saturday because he couldn’t push off the rubber properly.

The Braves nearly blew a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning Saturday when Detroit got a homer and four consecutive walks against relievers Takashi Saito and Eric O’Flaherty.

13 comments Add your comment

First

June 27th, 2010
4:27 pm

Yes, I’m a douche and like to be the first one to comment. Ridiculous.

Tipping your cap to the other team

June 27th, 2010
4:35 pm

Wanted to be first as well. Somtimes you just gotta tip yer cap. Kudos first.

joe

June 27th, 2010
4:41 pm

this will be the 4th game of the season that Hanson has butchered with 6+ runs given up in short innings (San Diego,Cinn.,CWS and now Detroit) For supposedly being a “power” pitcher his fastball doesn’t blow anybody away at 92-94mph with very little movement and his location often stinks. Also the Braves pitchers in general don’t field their position well ( unlike Maddox, Glavine, Smoltz, etc.) and Hanson hurt himself with a terrible pickoff throw early in the game. Can you say “sophmore slump” ?

Keith

June 27th, 2010
5:59 pm

David, you should give us more of the locker room talk. FUN STUFF! :)

Ok, let’s give Strasburg a little Southern Hospitality with a 4-spot in the 1st tomorrow.

Reality 4

June 27th, 2010
6:01 pm

Why not let KK pitch and give Hanson skip a start? With an off day on Thursday, that should work.

bobby

June 27th, 2010
8:24 pm

Any bets on how many K’s Strasburg will get tomorrow night? I’m guessing in the 12-15 range.

TS

June 27th, 2010
9:58 pm

hysterical FIRST… finally someone tells it straight well done

Joshhh...

June 28th, 2010
2:46 am

I love that “douche” didn’t get censored hahaha…

Good job First

Jerry Grillo

June 28th, 2010
8:40 am

If First had added “bag,” it probably would have been slashed. Great stuff DOB.

papadawg

June 28th, 2010
1:18 pm

I hope the so called Braves fans don’t cheer this guy if he’s striking out a bunch of our guys.

DD795

June 28th, 2010
2:52 pm

Need to trade Hanson while they can get something for him.

scott

June 28th, 2010
2:57 pm

I just love how were very much in the running we won the series against a tigers team were hittin the ball ok and people are still callin for hansons head and sayin the strasburg is strikin out 12-15. Really glad Atlanta has the most loyal fans in baseball. KEEP IT UP GUYS!!!

edward

June 28th, 2010
7:38 pm

Yea. Good job being a real fan there DD795. The kid is in his second year and everyone wants to trade him or sit him. How about you guys go and take a look at Glavines first 2 years here? I bet you could look up the numbers of pretty much any pitcher and see they had a bad year. Can you imagine some of these armchair idiots trading away a hall of famer like Glavine cause of a couple bad outings? Jeez, might as well sell the whole team. I’m amazed nobody called for that back in April! Would love to see some of these “geniuses” pitch 6 innings throwing around 92mph. How many would be able to last even one inning?
For the real fans on this blog….Congrats to KK for finally getting some support in a game. I guess it does help if your team scores more than 2 runs or less! The poor guy has a low era and the worst run support in the league. If they would just hit when he pitches his record would be about 6-3 probably. Let’s give him a break.

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