Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Zito moved to bullpen, feels shame

There's nothing that changes the fundamental makeup of baseball in the Giants' decision to move Barry Zito to the bullpen in light of his 0-6 start and elephantine ERA, but it's pretty shocking to go through the write-ups line by line.

You see a Cy Young award in 2002 and the numbers on his contract and it prompts one double take after another as you work your way down the page. To have that kind of money tied up in the bullpen for a pitcher who has been less than shaky this year is making a bad year for San Francisco even worse.

My question is if he's up for a hazing - having to wear a Hannah Montana backpack filled with gum and snacks - as a newcomer to the San Francisco bullpen.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Zito will be sent to the bullpen to try and regain his composure:

"It's good sometimes just to back off," Bruce Bochy said. "It's happened to a lot of great players, position players and even pitchers. We just felt at this point it's time for him to sit back, miss a start and help us in the pen."

A three-time All-Star and the Opening-Day starter this season, Zito is only the third pitcher since 1956 to go 0-6 before May, joining Texas' Dave Stewart (1984) and Detroit's Mike Maroth (2003).

And honestly, that's what makes the decision mildly surprising - when you're the Opening Day starter who can't get a handle on your pitches it's bad. When you're demoted in April, it's bound to attract some attention.

While it's not an open invitation to panic, it's certainly something else for the Giants' fans to have to wade through this season. On the plus side, there's a better chance to see the team's star pitcher now that he's not shackled to pitching only every fifth start.

(Image from: Associated Press)



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