Rhodes' repertoire doesn't command respect


May 22, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Most major-league pitchers will agree that it's difficult, if not impossible, to establish all of their pitches in the first inning.

Arthur Rhodes has learned that lesson the hard way several times, most recently yesterday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

And it's a lesson he most likely will have to learn a few times at Triple-A Rochester.

With Rhodes, it's a question of getting both of his pitches established, because he's basically a two-pitch pitcher -- fastball and breaking ball. Sometimes the breaking ball is a curve, sometimes a slider, sometimes something in between.

For the most part, the changeup is little more than a rumor -- and probably should stay as such until Rhodes gains command of two pitches.

There wasn't much of a pattern for him yesterday, other than walking the leadoff hitter.

That has become almost an accepted part of Rhodes' routine, though it's hardly accepted with grace. As yesterday's first inning wore on . . . and on . . . it was obvious that Rhodes was involved in a desperate search for a pitch he could count on.

He never found it -- but it wasn't because he didn't try. "I was just trying to find something we could get for a strike," said catcher Jeff Tackett.

"I didn't care what it was -- fastball, curve, slider, change, anything.

"We tried them all, but we could never find one that he could throw consistently for a strike. If we had I would've stuck with it."

Whether Rhodes would've had more success had he limited himself to two pitches rather than try them all is questionable. He struck out Randy Velarde with a curveball, but had little success with it against Danny Tartabull and Jim Leyritz.

He threw a couple of good fastballs, but he also threw a few in the dirt, one that went for a passed ball.

In the end, Rhodes got hurt most with his fastball, but by then the bases were cluttered with runners.

At this point in his career, Rhodes is still the type of pitcher who has to rely on his fastball.

It's his best pitch, the one he must establish.

Until he does, there isn't much sense trying to establish anything else. If Rhodes is going to take his career one step at a time, then his approach to any given game should be gaining command of one pitch at a time.

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