Backe active Friday, role undetermined.
Brandon Backe is officially an active player after being reinstated from the DL after Wednesday’s loss in Cincinnati. Backe, for now, will be available out of the bullpen. That’s not to say that he will spend the rest of the season as a reliever, but there appears to be no room for him in a weekend rotation that will consist of Brian Moehler [Friday], Wandy Rodriguez [Saturday] and Mike Hampton [Sunday].
As to whether Backe will be a middle reliever or long reliever, manager Cecil Cooper wouldn’t say.
“He’ll be activated on Friday,” Cooper said earlier Wednesday. “That’s all I can tell you.”
Backe was happy about that part, but he’s a bit perplexed as to why no one seems to know where he fits on this pitching staff. If he’s going to be a reliever, he can’t help but wonder why he spent the last month starting in the Minor Leagues.
“If that’s the case, in return, I’ve got to ask why I went off and made six starts,” he said. “I’m not here to question anybody’s authority. I’m here just to put a jersey on every day and give my best between the lines. Wherever it is, bullpen, starter, it doesn’t matter. My teammates know that more than anything.”
Backe vowed to concentrate on nothing but retiring hitters, in whatever role he’s assigned. If he does know what his job will be, he’s playing it close to the vest for now.
“I’m going to go out there regardless with the same mental focus on getting outs and helping our team win,” he said. “That’s the main objective of us as baseball players. It doesn’t matter where we are and when we get in. Roger Clemens proved it to us in the playoffs [in 2005] when he offered to come out of the bullpen and pitch three innings. He’s a savior. That turned
out pretty good for us.”
After confirming Backe’s pending activation, Cooper also made it clear Felipe Paulino’s outing against the Reds Wednesday was not an audition. Paulino will make at least one more start after this one.
“And I’m not saying he’s not going to get some after that,” Cooper said.
Spent my time in the clubhouse before the game Wednesday afternoon trying to figure out exactly what the exchange was between Roy Oswalt and Cooper last night after the fifth inning. It appears the communication between Oswalt and the coaching staff went through pitching coach Dewey Robinson. Oswalt, hurting after fielding a Joey Votto ground ball with his pitching hand, threw a handful of pitching in the tunnel to make sure everything was OK.
Oswalt told Robinson he wanted to back out for the sixth, which he did. Obviously, it didn’t go well. Oswalt was numb in the bottom part of his index and middle fingers and could not get a feel for his pitches when he tried to get through his last inning.
Cooper said after the game that he did not know what was wrong with Oswalt. I do not believe that to be true. He knew, but for reasons not spoken publicly, he did not want to talk about it. And that’s where we are.
Geoff Geary threw approximately 40 pitches off the mound Wednesday and felt no pain. “The ball’s coming out of my hand the way it should,” he said. It’s got life the way it’s supposed to have.”
Geary plans to throw to hitters, simulated-style, in Pittsburgh Friday, weather-permitting. He’d also like to make one rehab appearance after that.
“I’d like to throw against hitters in a game that doesn’t matter, just for mind over matter,” he said. “I could throw 90, 100 percent like I did today and then go into a game and all of a sudden have some weird feeling in my arm. I want to just clear everything up.”