Leading Off

March 29, 1999

JOHN ROCKER, SHORT RELIEVER
ATLANTA BRAVES

BORN: Oct. 17, 1974, Statesboro, Ga.
THROWS: Left HEIGHT: 6'4" WEIGHT: 225
STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS IN 1998: 9.95
TOP SPEED: 99 mph SECOND PITCH: Slider

MOST THRILLING STRIKEOUT: "Tony Gwynn in the 1998 League
Championship Series. The count went to 3 and 2, and I know it
was one of the times I hit 99. I threw the ball in on his hands,
and he fouled it off. Then I threw a slider away, and he chased
it."

PITCHING PHILOSOPHY: "Hard stuff right down the middle early. I
try to make fine pitches later, when I'm ahead in the count."

I KNEW I WAS FAST WHEN: "In Little League, parents would tell
their kids not to play catch with me because I threw too hard.
My buddy, who was the catcher, used to show me the busted blood
vessels in his hand."

MUSICAL INSPIRATION: "If I'm too keyed up and need to get calm,
the Dead. If I need to get fired up, some AC/DC or KISS."

IF MY ARM BLEW OUT TOMORROW, I'D: "Be a stockbroker. It's like a
game you play with chips. It's fun watching your account build
and stuff."

SCOTT ELARTON, STARTER/LONG RELIEVER
HOUSTON ASTROS

BORN: Feb. 23, 1976, Lamar, Colo.
THROWS: Right Height: 6'7" Weight: 240
STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS IN 1998: 8.84

TOP SPEED: 96 mph SECOND PITCH: Changeup

MOST THRILLING STRIKEOUT: "Mark McGwire. He hit a home run off
of me early in the game, but then I got him swinging at a curve."

PITCHING PHILOSOPHY: "Don't think too much."

I KNEW I WAS FAST WHEN: "I broke a kid's nose in Little League."

MUSICAL INSPIRATION: George Strait.

IF MY ARM BLEW OUT TOMORROW, I'D: "Have my own fishing show on
TV."

ROY HALLADAY, STARTER/LONG RELIEVER
TORONTO BLUE JAYS

BORN: May 14, 1977, Denver
THROWS: Right Height: 6'6" Weight: 205
STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS IN 1998: 8.4

TOP SPEED: 98 mph SECOND PITCH: Curve

MOST THRILLING STRIKEOUT: "The first one I ever had in the
majors. I threw a fastball to [Tampa Bay Devil Ray] Quinton
McCracken, and he checked his swing. It was a huge relief."

PITCHING PHILOSOPHY: "Get ahead in the count and try to get guys
out early. You can't strike everybody out. The more groundouts
you get, the easier it is on your arm. I love the strikeout, but
I also want a long career."

I KNEW I WAS FAST WHEN: "As a sophomore in high school, I threw
a no-hitter in my first varsity start. At that age I didn't
realize how big a no-hitter was. Now I know."

MUSICAL INSPIRATION: Metallica.

IF MY ARM BLEW OUT TOMORROW, I'D: "Be a fly-fishing guide for
trout, or an airline pilot."

COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JOSEF ASTOR Throwing Heat Alas, Kerry Wood has flamed out for 1999, but baseball is stoked with fireballing young whiffmeisters--call them Generation K--ready to pick up his torch. At right and on the following pages are three such smokin' specimens. COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREW KAUFMAN [See caption above] COLOR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JAMES PORTO [See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)