Wiley finds relief in Marlins' dugout

NL notebook

Baseball Week

April 17, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - Deep down, Mark Wiley knew he'd resurface as a major league pitching coach. He figured his 35 years in pro ball would mean something to somebody.

The reality exceeded his expectations.

"Sometimes, one door closes and another one opens," said Wiley, the first-year pitching coach of the Florida Marlins, the big league team closest to his Boca Raton, Fla., home. "I'm a pretty good example of that."

Wiley, the Orioles' pitching coach in 1987 and again from 2001 to '04, was reassigned to scouting duties last June 26 and replaced by Ray Miller. At the time, the staff ERA was 5.34, worst in the American League. Under Miller, it improved to 4.24, second best in the AL, through the rest of the season.

Wiley's opportunity for redemption came in November, when Marlins manager Jack McKeon called. It was like being fired as an honors chorus director to become Alicia Keys' personal voice coach.

Although Wiley praises Orioles pitchers Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera, they were just starting out when he coached them. In Florida, he has veterans Al Leiter and Ismael Valdez and an immensely talented and fairly experienced trio of Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett and Dontrelle Willis.

"We've got three younger guys who are probably every bit as talented as anyone I have ever had," Wiley said. "In Baltimore, we had a lot of young guys that hadn't been established."

Instead of constantly instructing, Wiley is doing more refining in Florida. There's no need to overhaul a staff that has four complete games in the season's first 10 days.

"The biggest thing with him is [preparation]," Willis said. "Knowing what hitters' tendencies are, knowing what their strengths are and knowing what your strength is and being able to recognize that ... so far so good."

Bonds loves L.A.

Despite being on the disabled list, San Francisco's Barry Bonds was announced during Opening Day festivities at Dodger Stadium. He raised his hands to a cacophony of boos and vulgar chants.

"Dodger Stadium is the best show I ever go to in all of my baseball," Bonds said. "You've got to have some serious talent to have 53,000 people saying you [stink]. And I'm proud of that."

Guts, then glory

Cincinnati manager Dave Miley played the percentages and ordered closer Danny Graves to intentionally walk St. Louis' Larry Walker to load the bases with a one-run lead and one out in the ninth Wednesday.

That meant Graves had to face Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and the game on the line. Pujols hit a high chopper to third, which was turned into a game-ending double play.

Quick hits

Jason Dunn, a Houston police officer and older brother of Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, worked security detail in the Reds' dugout at Minute Maid Park this week. ... Denny Neagle, released by Tampa Bay last month, will spend the next four to six weeks building up his shoulder strength in hopes of resuming his career, his agent said. ... Due to early-season scheduling quirks, Milwaukee's ace, Ben Sheets, and No. 2, Doug Davis, were slated to start six of the team's first 11 games.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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