Originally created 04/29/01

Greenjackets notebook

So what's the deal with pitch counts?

Take GreenJackets ace Seung Song, for example. In each of his first two starts this season, the 20-year-old right-hander gave up just one hit. And in the two outings combined, he allowed just one walk and no earned runs while striking out 19 batters.

But in each of his first two starts, the Korean prospect was yanked after six innings, having maxed out his pitch limit.

The approach seems to defy conventional baseball logic. Why would a pitching coach pull a starting pitcher who's mowing down batters with relative ease and put the team's chances of winning in jeopardy?

Because in the minors, success is defined more by a player's development than it is by statistics. And as Jackets pitching coach Bob Kipper tells his pitchers: "You can't develop when you're on the disabled list."

Every GreenJackets starter is on a strict pitch count, as dictated by the Boston Red Sox.

At the start of the season, Augusta pitchers started with a 60- pitch limit. Now, almost a month into the season, the count is up to around 75-85.

"We've got to take care of these guys," Kipper said. "You've got 19, 20, 21-year-old kids, most of them in their first full season, and you've got to get them through the season healthy. We've got to preserve their arms at this point. Some guys might not be happy with me for taking them out of a game when their pitching a shutout. But it's what's best for them in the long run."

The maximum pitch count for an Augusta pitcher is 100, regardless of whether it's April or September.

Kipper said the only exception would be for a pitcher working on a no-hitter. Last August, Eric Glaser threw 111 pitches in no-hitting the Asheville Tourists. It was the Jackets' lone complete game in 2000.

Two days after Glaser's no-no, Anastacio Martinez was extended to 130 pitches in no-hit bid, but was removed immediately after it was broken up in the ninth inning.

For most organizations, the plan is basically the same, although some clubs employ less stringent policies.

Capital City ace Steven Bennett - a 28th-round pick by the Mets in 1999 who entered with a 0.98 ERA this season - dominated the Jackets Friday night, holding them to three hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts.

But the Mets' preset limit for Bennett was 80, and he was gone after throwing 78 pitches through five innings.

While the Mets and Red Sox are extra cautious with their young arms, a handful of clubs take a more liberal approach when it comes to pitch counts - the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, to name a few.

Kipper questions that logic.

"Maybe they think winning is more important," he said. "Maybe they feel it's something that will be important for a certain kid's development if he's gone out there and thrown a complete game."

Then there are clubs like the Atlanta Braves, traditionally one of the leaders in home-grown pitching talent.

"I'll guarantee you that Atlanta's kids are on pretty strict pitch counts," Kipper said. "Look at the young pitching they've developed over the years. There's a correlation."


Rick Asadoorian batted leadoff Saturday, but Jackets manager Mike Boulanger said it was just a one-shot deal because he wanted to give his regular leadoff man, Antron Seiber, a day off.

Asadoorian, who batted third in five straight games after batting second since joining the club, will be back in the three-hole Monday when the Jackets open a four-game series vs. Columbus.

"He's hit leadoff before, and I thought I'd try him there (Saturday)," Boulanger said. "I figured he'd get some more good pitches to hit, a few more fastballs, leading off."


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