Mariano Rivera and the tale of Stumpy
NEW YORK -- Brady Anderson played against Mariano Rivera for years and said Saturday he has never actually spoken with the closer, which is not unusual. Rivera has always kept his distance from opposing players. But Anderson greatly appreciates Rivera for the way he has competed, and like so many others, Anderson has his stories about trying to solve the puzzle that Rivera's cut fastball presented.
For the record, Anderson did fine against Rivera: In 22 at-bats, he had six hits, including a couple of doubles, a walk and two strikeouts. Facing Rivera was a comfortable at-bat, explained the former Orioles outfielder, who now serves the team as its vice president of baseball operations.
But in the at-bats that Anderson had against Rivera, he estimated that Rivera wrecked his bat eight times -- or more than a third of those matchups -- because of that hard, late movement that has distinguished Rivera's cut fastball and separated him from all other pitchers.
"I actually thought about training myself to swing where I thought the ball was going to be [rather than where it actually was]," he said with a laugh. "I actually thought that."
Anderson recalled that two of his most prolific teammates, Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar, shared a small bat that they employed only against Rivera. It was 32 inches in length, which made it easier for the hitters to manipulate in the effort to get inside of Rivera's cutter, and the bat was special enough to Alomar and Palmeiro that they bestowed a nickname upon it: Stumpy.
So Stumpy would stay stored away, like a secret weapon, until Rivera was on the mound. Then Stumpy would emerge.
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