Sunday, March 19, 2006

Joey Devine in Chris Reitsma's Rear-View Mirror

Considering that 14 major league teams switched closers during the course of the season last year, is it any surprise that, even with opening day only two weeks away, such clubs as Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and Florida remain in flux as to who will get the majority of their saves '06? But whose hold on the closer's job could be more tenuous than Atlanta's Chris Reitsma? The 39-year-old righty, he of the .844 ERA during August '05, has reclaimed the Braves closer's job by default. Reitsma lost the job last year to Kyle Farnsworth, who left to become set-up man for the Yankees. This year Reitsma's understudy is rookie Joey Devine, who was rudely welcomed to the majors last year by giving up two grand slams during the playoffs. But management was impressed that despite that experience Devine refused to be rattled, exhibiting the classic coldblooded closer's psychological profile. Devine has 14 scoreless innings at the halfway point of spring camp. Stash him away for a rainy day.