Eyre making most of spring this time
Reliever more focused, plans to have better start to season
MESA, Ariz. -- Scott Eyre had been scheduled to throw in consecutive games for the first time Tuesday and Wednesday, but instead did some work at home on his slider.
"It's been flat," the Cubs left-hander said Thursday. "It's more like a feel thing. I don't want to get into what I did last year, where I leave Spring Training and I don't have my stuff. I don't want to do that, not for personal reasons."
And not for the team, either. Eyre had a Jekyll and Hyde 2007 season, compiling a 6.60 ERA in 27 games in the first half compared to an 0.81 ERA in 28 games in the second half. Cubs manager Lou Piniella had trouble remembering the lefty's name last season, and mistakenly called him "Steve Ire." Eyre, being the good-natured guy he is, even had a glove made up with his new moniker and showed it to Piniella. They can laugh about it now.
This year, Eyre hopes to have one name, and one good season.
"I'd like to see 'Scotty Eyre' all year," he said. "Larry [Rothschild, pitching coach] and I talked about it. Last year in spring, I didn't get out of spring what I should have. That was me brushing off outings and saying, 'It'll just fall together.' It wasn't fun for me, and it wasn't fun for Lou either."
This spring, Eyre is more focused, more confident. He will throw again Saturday in a Minor League game to stay on schedule. One thing that's certain is Eyre knows his role. He's not lobbying to be included in the competition for the Cubs' closer job with right-handers Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry.
"[Giants manager] Felipe Alou said, 'I can't have Scott close. Then I would have no one to pitch the seventh or eighth,'" said Eyre, who pitched for the Giants from 2002-05. "I've understood. I'm not a big strikeout guy like the big three we have. It would be fun to close someday, but I'm getting older -- what's the point? I've had success with what I've done with some holds here. I enjoy pitching with men on base."
Eyre and Michael Wuertz specialize in those situations. Right now, Eyre just has to get a feel for his slider, and make sure Piniella knows what to call him.
"It's OK -- he knows my name now," Eyre said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.