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AROUND THE MAJORS

Relievers Told to Hurry It Up

June 27, 2001|From Associated Press

In a move that could spark more John Rocker-like sprints to the mound from bullpens, baseball has instituted a two-minute limit on warmup tosses when relief pitchers come in during an inning.

"Another reason why baseball is shooting itself in the foot," New York Yankee Manager Joe Torre said Tuesday.

Pitchers are limited to eight warmup throws at the start of an inning or when they relieve, exceptions being in the first inning, if they replaced an injured pitcher and following a rain delay.

Starting June 18, umpires were told relievers had two minutes to get in their eight tosses when they relieved during an inning, with the clock starting when they stepped into fair territory.

At the start of an inning, the warmup limit is 1:40, unless the game is on national television, in which case they get two minutes.

"The umpires have been instructed to tell the pitcher he's got one more pitch at that moment," said Ralph Nelson, vice president of umpires. "The umpires have been given the discretion that if that pitcher's had one or two warmup pitches at that time, to let him go longer."

Torre was annoyed because the rule affected Yankee reliever Jay Witasick on Monday night. In his first appearance since New York acquired him from San Diego, Witasick relieved with a 6-2 lead in the sixth inning and let the Cleveland Indians tie the game, then got the victory when pinch-hitter Tino Martinez homered.

Witasick, who reported to the Yankees shortly before gametime, got to the mound and was introduced to new teammate Derek Jeter. Torre spent some time talking to his new pitcher, and after three warmup tosses, plate umpire Derryl Cousins told Witasick, "One more."

Bryce Florie insists he's ready to return to the major leagues, more than nine months after the Boston Red Sox reliever was hit in the face by a line drive.

But his comeback may not happen with the Red Sox.

The Red Sox offered Florie a 19-day rehabilitation assignment to triple-A Pawtucket, but the pitcher said he'd probably reject the stint.

"It's something I think would be a great thing, to come back here and pitch in Boston," Florie said. "It doesn't look like it's going to happen."

Florie has been undergoing rehabilitation since being hit in the right eye Sept. 8 by a line drive from Ryan Thompson of the Yankees.

Florie had surgery to repair broken facial bones and got contact lenses to correct his vision, which was impaired after the injury.

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Wil Cordero was activated from the disabled list by the Indians, who optioned right-hander David Riske to triple-A Buffalo. . . . Center fielder Jay Payton was activated from the disabled list by the New York Mets, who sent Alex Escobar to triple-A Norfolk. . . . The Chicago Cubs recalled outfielder Roosevelt Brown from triple-A Iowa and optioned infielder Julio Zuleta. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays placed second baseman Homer Bush on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right hamstring. The Blue Jays purchased the contract of right-hander Brian Bowles from triple-A Syracuse. . . . The Montreal Expos activated pitcher Mike Thurman from the 15-day disabled list and optioned left-hander Matt Blank to triple-A Ottawa.

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