Logan looks to get it right vs. lefties
Reliever is only southpaw in the Yankees bullpen
Things seem to have turned around this season for Boone Logan, the only southpaw in the Yankees' bullpen.
To put it a little more accurately, he has been doing quite well against right-handed batters. The thing is, the Yankees have a bullpen full of righties to do that job.
On the other hand, so to speak, Logan hasn't been doing what a left-hander should be doing -- getting left-handed batters out.
His slider has betrayed him. "Some of them, they're not breaking hard," Logan said. "I'm not getting [batters] to swing at the ones I throw in the dirt when I want to throw them in the dirt. I usually get a lot of swings and misses with my slider."
The way to fix it is simple, he said -- to just keep throwing until he feels he's controlling it again.
In 2007-08 with the White Sox, 2009 with Atlanta and 2010 with the Yankees, opposing left-handers batted a combined .244 against Logan, and right-handers hit .338. This season, though, right-handed batters have been hitting barely above .100, while the lefties' average is about triple that.
"I know I'm the only lefty guy in the 'pen, and I understand I've got to get my lefties out," Logan said. "That's my sole job. I like to get my whole innings in," meaning he wants to be able to get all the outs in an inning rather than being pulled after a batter or two when a right-handed batter comes up.
"But I've getting all my righties out. Actually, I think that makes it easier for Joe [Girardi, the Yankees manager]. He knows I can get my lefties out, and I know I can start getting them out, too. If I start doing that I'll know I can have more of my own innings."
Logan wasn't supposed to be the only left-hander in the bullpen in the Bronx. Pedro Feliciano, whose Major League career spanned eight seasons across town with the Mets, signed a reported two-year, $8 million contract with the Yankees in January, with a $4.5 million club option for 2013.
But Feliciano appeared in 86 games in 2008 and 88 the next season and a career-high 92 last year, leading the Majors each time. Whether or not the workload finally caught up with him, Feliciano wound up with a torn left rotator cuff even before the season began. He is not expected to pitch at all this year.
"We had Feliciano scheduled to be the guy for the seventh, eighth [[innings]," Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "But with him hurt it's fallen on Boone." Boone's reported 2010 salary of $405,000 nearly tripled to $1.2 million this year.
"We need him in this division because it's really left-handed," Rothschild said, a reference to, among others, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford of the Red Sox, Matt Joyce and Casey Kotchman of the Rays, Adam Lind and Corey Patterson of the Blue Jays, and Nick Markakis and Luke Scott of the Orioles.
Rothschild seems to suggest that Logan, even with his current problems as a southpaw specialist, has job security of a sort because he believes there's no other viable candidate to depose him at the moment.
"If there were another one," Rothschild said, "he'd still probably be here 'cause you can always use two of them."
Bruce Lowitt is a freelance writer based in Tampa, Fla.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.