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04/08/08 11:01 PM ET
Borowski's mph down; team not worried
Indians offer varying reasons for closer's dip in pitch speed
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Joe Borowski's velocity is down, even by his standards. Borowski is never one to light up a radar gun. But in the course of saving Sunday's game in Oakland and blowing a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night at Angel Stadium, he maxed out at 85 mph. Ordinarily, his fastball creeps up around 88 mph and can even hit 90 on occasion. The Indians are offering up several potential explanations for Borowski's dip in velocity and exploring the possibility that their closer might be hurting. "We'll see how he feels [Tuesday] and go from there," manager Eric Wedge said shortly before the Tribe took batting practice. "There's nothing that says he isn't [healthy]. We'll see after he plays catch." Having worked two days in a row, it was questionable whether Borowski would be available to the Tribe on Tuesday night. Setup man Rafael Betancourt -- the backup closer, of sorts -- was unavailable because he had worked three straight days. That potentially left Jensen Lewis or Rafael Perez to handle the ninth, if necessary. The 36-year-old Borowski hasn't told the Indians he's feeling any pain, and other factors might have led to the velocity decline, pitching coach Carl Willis said. "He had had some days off between Opening Day, when he pitched, and when he pitched on Sunday," Willis said. "But he did get up a couple times in between. Last season, when we opened up in Chicago, his velocity was 85 or 86. And hey, it wasn't like Chicago last night, but it was a little cooler. It could be an effect of coming out of the heat of Florida and into the cooler weather." Willis said Borowski's velocity in Spring Training was consistently 86 or 87 mph, which, he said, was in line with last spring. While Borowski pitched a scoreless ninth Sunday, walking one batter, he was all over the place Monday. He walked Gary Matthews Jr. with one out, gave up a single to Vladimir Guerrero and walked Garret Anderson, setting up Torii Hunter's game-winning grand slam. "He was out of sync," Wedge said of Borowski. "He didn't have the command he normally has. He was definitely a little off." In his first season with the Indians, during which he racked up an American League-best 45 saves, Borowski proved that when he's off, he's way off. His blown saves were sights to behold. But as dramatic as Monday night's outcome was, the Indians have no plans to pull Borowski from his closing duties. Wedge said Borowski is the closer "as long as he feels good." Just how good he feels, however, was up in the air two hours before game time.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.