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yankoholics anonymous
03-27-00, 04:23 PM
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March 27, 2000

Meet the Best Reliever No One Knows

Filed at 2:48 p.m. EST

By The Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Quick! Name the best AL reliever during the last two years -- and no scrounging for statistics before answering.

Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees? No, but that's a good guess. Almost everybody picks him.

Mike Jackson of the Cleveland Indians? Sorry, but nice try.

Jeff Zimmerman of the Texas Rangers? Nope, wrong again.

Try Keith Foulke of the Chicago White Sox.

Who?

``I've always been the guy who went to the small high school, the small colleges, just kind of sneaked in the door,'' Foulke said. ``I don't want to be on the front page and get all the press. I just want my teammates to respect what I do and my coaches to respect what I do. That's really all I need.''

Meet Keith Foulke, the best reliever you've never heard of. First of all, his last name is pronounced FOLK, as in smoke, which is what he routinely throws past batters.

During the last two years he's been, simply, outstanding. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Based on a complicated formula that includes games pitched, wins and saves and earned runs allowed, Foulke ranks as the top AL reliever, edging Rivera, Jackson and Boston's Derek Lowe.Last year, Chicago's setup man led AL relievers in strikeouts (123) and his 2.22 ERA was second only to Rivera's (1.83). He had a 1.38 ERA after the All-Star break, and allowed only two runs in his last 30 1-3 innings (0.59 ERA).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>And he's at it again this year. He has a 1.54 ERA this spring, giving up just two earned runs on 10 hits in 11 2-3 innings.

``There's no secret. I go out and I work hard,'' he said. ``I think I've gotten a little bit smarter about pitching. I realize that the next pitch I'm about to throw is the most important pitch of the year. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>``Pitching is all about making as few mistakes as possible.''<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Foulke can't remember a time when he wasn't playing baseball. His father, Chuck, bought him a glove and started hitting ground balls to him when he was four or five. They went to Houston Astros games and talked baseball for hours.

His love of the game grew the older he got. While his friends were going on summer vacation or taking spring break trips, he was honing his game.

``When I see friends and they're talking about how lucky I am -- obviously, I feel like I'm one of the luckiest guys in the world, but I've been working hard since I was a little kid to do exactly what I'm doing,'' he said. ``The rewards are paying off now.''

Foulke, 27, began his career as a starter, working his way through the minor leagues. He was bouncing between the San Francisco Giants and their Triple-A club in Phoenix in 1997 when he was sent to the White Sox as part of the infamous ``White Flag'' trade on July 31.

After one start at Triple-A Nashville, the White Sox called him up Aug. 14 and made him a reliever. Four days later, he got his first career save when he threw four scoreless innings against Seattle.

By the time the season ended, Foulke was 3-0 and had converted three of five save chances.

``It took a little while to adjust,'' he admitted. ``I'm not a big believer in closer mentality, starter mentality. My mentality is going out there and competing every time out. I want to get the guy at the plate out, and that's the most important thing I can do at the time.''

Foulke doesn't keep track of his statistics, regardless of how impressive they are. The only numbers he cares about are Chicago's wins and losses. Otherwise, if there's a significant stat he needs to know about, he figures his coaches will tell him.

If they don't, he knows his father will.

``My dad's my biggest fan. I'm glad to do well because I see how happy it makes him,'' Foulke said. ``I'm living part of his dream.''
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Y.A


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Butnud
03-27-00, 04:44 PM
I don't care who you say is the best.....
My man Mo is the bomb.

NUMBER 42.....
Keep up the hard work Mo..

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Today. I consider myself the luckiest man on the face the Earth. -Lou Gehrig-