Entitle this one: "The Moving of Eric Milton."
Guest instructor Tom Browning, a left-handed pitcher who knows a thing or four about pitching, watched left-handed Milton throw at the Cincinnati Reds spring training complex and decided to make a suggestion.
Browning saw Milton standing on the third base side of the pitching rubber. Browning pitched with his foot on the first base side of the rubber.
Uncertain about the reception, Browning approached Milton cautiously, but discovered he is ready to stand on his head and whistle Sweet Home Alabama while chewing Saltines if it will help him avoid what happened last year: 8-15 with a 6.47 ERA in 34 starts.
"I tried it out while throwing batting practice Friday," said Milton. "It felt good. I've always had good control, so it didn't throw me off. Billy Connors (former pitching coach) moved me to the third base side when I pitched with the Yankees.
"I throw across my body and he thought it would be easier to get inside on right-handed hitters," said Milton. "With Browning's theory, by moving to the first-base side it is farther to throw to get inside on a right-hander, but the angle is better.
"It seemed like (Friday) they weren't getting very good swings, not seeing pitches inside, so it is encouraging."
Hey, whatever works.
It's always nice to read interviews of Eric Milton because he nearly always sounds pretty embarassed about last season and adamant about his desire to improve. It might not matter a bit in the end when it comes to his performance, but when watching an athlete fail it makes me feel better to know that its bothering them at least as much as its bothering me.
That might sound like something we should take for granted until you realize that there are probably quite a few players who feel similarly to Danny Graves. They probably just aren't dumb enough to say it out loud like Graves did.
I have a feeling that we'll be fairly satisfied with Eric Milton this season, simply because the bar is set so incredibly low. I mean really, if he comes in under 5.50 won't we all feel pretty good about that? In a way Milton is in an enviable position. All he has to do is suck slightly less and people will love him. Not a lot of pressure there.