Monday, September 3, 2007
Barry Zito, who is throwing his best ball of the season - working at least seven innings while surrendering two or fewer runs over four straight starts - admitted he put extra pressure on himself because of his $126 million contract.
"You want to be everything for everyone," Zito said. "You want to show everyone you're worth every dollar. I figured out, be myself. That's what they're paying me for, to be who I am."
On Sunday, Zito surrendered one run and two hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out five. He has won only one of his last four starts, but his ERA over the stretch is 1.24 (four runs, 12 hits, four walks, 29 innings).
It's what the Giants were hoping for when they signed Zito for seven years.
"Sometimes we have to go through crap to prove to ourselves we can handle it," Zito said. "I think the reality is, I never pitched with a number on my forehead such as the contract. All these things were new to me. On top of that, a new team, new park, new league. So I think it's a reason a lot of guys re-up with their teams. They don't want to go through the process. It's something you can't prepare for."
Zito, whose ERA has fallen from 5.13 to 4.46 in his last four starts, feels better about all his pitches.
"You get results when you're in a good frame of mind and attacking guys," Zito said. "My pitches haven't changed, per se, from my standpoint. But the changeup's moving way better, the curveball's breaking way better and the fastball location's better. Those things tend to fall in place when you trust yourself."
Lowry done for '07?: The Giants are considering shutting down Noah Lowry for the rest of the season if he doesn't regain his strength.
"I wouldn't rule that out," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's got a little soreness. It's not worth the risk right now. He's going to have to be 100 percent or we're not going to put him back out there."
Though Lowry maintained he's pain free, Bochy said the lefty is feeling "general soreness."
"He's done a great job this year," Bochy said. "He was on target for 17, 18 wins, which would be pretty incredible considering where we're at."
I like the Zito-ish title of the article. He's always saying all this faux profound crap. I really, really like his honesty and forthrightness, though. I'll be really sad if Lowry doesn't get another start. :( I want him to get 15 wins. I want him and Haren to get 30 wins together (baby).
Giants lose despite Zito's dominance
09/02/2007 5:39 PM ET
By Michael Phillips / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- The Giants' other Barry is learning how to be a superstar.
Ace pitcher Barry Zito has had a disappointing season, but he appears to be turning the corner after another strong outing in a 2-1 loss to the Nationals on Sunday at RFK Stadium.
Before the game, manager Bruce Bochy hinted that Barry Bonds may see less time in the season's final month. As the slugger begins to fade away, Zito is showing the talent that could make him the face of the franchise for years to come.
"Sometimes we have to go through some crud to find out how we handle it," Zito said. "The truth is that I've never pitched with a number on my forehead."
That number is the seven-year, $126 million contract that pried Zito from the Oakland A's last December. Those numbers are more impressive than anything he was able to put up on the mound in the first four months of the season.
He said that after signing the big contract, he began to put pressure on himself to live up to the number and saw his confidence drop after a string of subpar outings.
"You want to be everything for everyone," he said. "You want to show everyone that you're worth every dollar."
That led to more rough outings as he struggled to adjust to a new ballpark, new teammates and a new league.
He said he finally turned the corner Aug. 12 in Pittsburgh, when he walked the first three hitters of the game. None of the three scored as Zito pitched his way out of the inning, and he began to feel his confidence rise.
"The toughest thing is turning it around slowly," he said. "You can't just manifest confidence. When you have good outings, it builds and begins to snowball."
That game against the Pirates is the last loss he's taken, and he's averaged just one walk in his last four games. He said he feels his changeup moving better and his curveball cutting more.
Washington's hitters felt it, too, with five strikeouts and a pair of double-play balls, both hit by All-Star Dmitri Young.
Zito couldn't get any help on the offensive side, and the Giants dropped the game in the bottom of the ninth. Felipe Lopez doubled, setting up an RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman that won the game for the Nationals. It was Zimmerman's sixth walk-off hit since 2006, tops in the Major Leagues.
San Francisco's lone run was a solo home run from Rich Aurilia that rocketed into the upper deck in left field. Bochy credited the Washington pitchers, but chided his own team's lack of production.
"One run is not going to cut it," he said. "When you get that kind of pitching, you just need a couple runs to get it done, and we couldn't."
The Giants had no success with a mostly veteran lineup Saturday, and trying to put in several of the team's younger players didn't get the job done Sunday.
The team's best opportunity came in the fourth inning, when Rajai Davis led off with a single and a Randy Winn walk put two runners on base. But Davis got caught between the bases after seeing movement from the pitcher and was thrown out to end the rally.
"He got caught in no-man's land," Bochy said.
Defensively, things weren't much cleaner. In the third inning, Washington's Ronnie Belliard had the first hit of the game, a sharp line drive that went off the glove of shortstop Omar Vizquel. Vizquel also had the time to barehand the ball on the bounce, but made an unsuccessful stab at it. Belliard scored on a triple from Nook Logan. Other miscues included a grounder that was misplayed by Pedro Feliz and a pop fly in foul territory that hit Aurilia on the glove before dropping.
As the coaches look for the best combination of players to take into 2008, one roster spot they won't have to worry about is Zito's. He's as focused as ever, having made the adjustment from American League pitcher to National League superstar.
Zito compared his early struggles to those of Carlos Beltran, another player who switched leagues for a big payday and had a long adjustment period.
"I think the worst is behind me," Zito said. "Unfortunately, it took four months to really pull through it, but I expect these kinds of outings more consistently."
Just a few more quotes that weren't in the previous article.