05.30.06

Waechter Lives, Dies By The Splange

Posted in Baseball at 10:31 pm by

Every wonder where new pitching innovations come from? Me neither. Fortunately, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times is the inquisitive type. (link lifted from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

When Doug Waechter was warming up to pitch in Boston on Thursday, he didn’t have a good feel for the split-finger fastball he had debuted in his previous start.

He fidgeted with his grip until it felt comfortable and ended up somewhere between how he holds the ball for a splitter and how he holds it for a changeup, with his index finger on the side of the ball and his middle finger on a seam.

From that, the “splange” was born.

“I just figured I’d compromise. I decided I’d grip it right in between and let it rip,” Waechter said. “I’d never even thought about it before. It was one of those things that just comes to you.”

Waechter figures he threw the “splange” about eight times Thursday, including several to Boston slugger Manny Ramirez, and usually with good results. It isn’t as hard as his fastball, and it dropped dramatically out of the strike zone.

He plans to throw more “splanges” again tonight when he starts against the Orioles. “It worked, so I might as well stick with it,” he said.

Waechter may have invented the pitch, but manager Joe Maddon took credit for the name. Pitching coach Mike Butcher was working the other direction, trying to call it a “chitter,” but Maddon liked the sound of “splange.”

Sadly for the Devil Rays, the spalnge wasn’t working too well on Tuesday night, Waechter’s record falling to 0-4 in a 7-5 loss to Baltimore. Miguel Tejada hit his 14th HR of the season in the O’s 3 run 5th.

As long as Mets fans are allowed to moan endlessly about the price paid for Victor Zambrano, consider the cost of Kris Benson ; Ty Wigginton, 12 HR’s and 39 RBI’s in the season’s first two months. I’m not suggesting for a moment that Wigginton had any long-term future to speak of in New York, but he’s not doing badly considering where he was at a year ago.

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