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Mets Expect a Guessing Game

Floyd, with only modest success in the past against Maddux, knows he'll have to think along with the veteran Dodgers right-hander in Game 3.

October 07, 2006|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

Cliff Floyd thought he was in for a big game. The figure on the mound, wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform that day, had long tormented him.

But in his first at-bat against Greg Maddux, the New York Mets outfielder hit a sharp line drive.

OK, so it was foul. But it was a line drive.

"I was thinking, 'He can't get me out today,' " Floyd recalled Friday at Dodger Stadium before a Mets workout. "Dude, he struck me out three times."

Over the years, Floyd has had some modest success against Maddux, who will be trying to stave off elimination for the Dodgers tonight in Game 3 of their National League Division Series against the Mets. Floyd has hit .247 in 73 career at-bats against Maddux with three home runs and 10 runs batted in.

But in trying to protect the strike zone against the veteran right-hander, Floyd has never felt he was in a comfort zone.

"If you get a hit off him, he changes the next time you face him," Floyd said. "If you don't get a hit, he changes anyway. He changes every at-bat. He messes with your mind. It's annoying.

"He is wise enough to know that a little bit here, a little bit there makes a difference. If you allow him to get into his rhythm, you are in for a long night. It's frustrating as heck when you look at that ball coming up there at 84 miles an hour and you don't hit it."

Floyd realized just how creative Maddux is in his approach when he saw the 40-year-old veteran of 21 big-league seasons vary his approach to Barry Bonds after retiring Bonds on the previous at-bat.

"He didn't try to get him out the same way the next time," Floyd said. "If he was going to do that to Barry, you know he was going to do it to me."

Mets left-hander Tom Glavine, a former teammate of Maddux when the two were in Atlanta, preaches patience at the plate.

"He tries to make you chase the pitches he wants you to chase," Glavine said. "You've got to be patient and let him make the mistakes."

Mets hitting coach Rick Down doesn't agree. He's not that optimistic about the likelihood of Maddux making too many mistakes.

"I tell my hitters not to worry about being patient," Down said. "Hit the first pitch if you like it because it might be the best pitch you'll see."

Mets third baseman David Wright seems to have figured it out. He is five for 11 against Maddux. But he too remembers the frustrating days.

"You can go a comfortable 0 for 4 against him," said Wright, "and you might only see six or seven pitches. There is a lot of late movement on those pitches.

"He works off the hitter's emotion, the hitter's aggressiveness and lets you get yourself out. He always works from black to black, almost never over the white part" of home plate.

Mets Manager Willie Randolph remembers.

"I faced him when I played," Randolph said. "He might have had a little more velocity back then, but not much....

"It was toward the end of my career. We're both a little long in the tooth, but he's still playing and I'm not, so he probably stays in better shape."

Floyd is not in the best of shape. The sore left heel that has bothered him for much of the season flared up in Game 2 when he stretched for a ball. But Floyd tried to shrug off any concern Friday.

"This time of year," he said, "it's a whole new body, a whole new brain."

But, he fears, the same old Maddux.



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Mets vs. Maddux

The career batting records of Mets players against the Dodgers' Greg Maddux:

*--* Player AB H HR RBI BB SO BA C Paul Lo Duca 21 8 1 2 1 0 381 1B Carlos Delgado 23 4 1 3 0 8 174 2B Jose Valentin 23 6 0 1 2 5 261 SS Jose Reyes 19 2 0 0 1 6 105 3B David Wright 11 5 0 2 0 1 455 OF Cliff Floyd 73 18 2 10 3 17 247 OF Shawn Green 33 14 3 10 6 8 424 OF Carlos Beltran 13 3 0 2 2 1 231 Endy Chavez 20 3 1 3 0 0 150 Ramon Castro 15 5 0 1 1 1 333 Michael Tucker 13 2 0 0 0 2 154 Chris Woodward 8 4 0 1 1 1 500 Julio Franco 2 2 0 1 1 0 1.000




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