Under the Microscope Keep a close eye on these pitchers this spring. Their managers will

Feb. 17, 2003
Feb. 17, 2003

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Feb. 17, 2003

Pro Basketball

Under the Microscope Keep a close eye on these pitchers this spring. Their managers will

MIKE HAMPTON isn't the only high-profile pitcher with something to
prove this season. Here are five others whose spring training
progress will be closely scrutinized.

This is an article from the Feb. 17, 2003 issue Original Layout

BARTOLO COLON, RH, WHITE SOX Pairing this 20-game winner with
lefthander Mark Buehrle, who won 19 last year, gives Chicago one
of the league's best one-two punches. But last season Colon, 29,
who lives and dies by his triple-digit heater, threw a
career-high 233 1/3 innings and fanned a career-low 5.7 batters
per nine innings; he also had a 4.97 ERA in September. He must
reestablish his dominance.

JOSE CONTRERAS, RH, YANKEES The 31-year-old Cuban defector boasts
a mid-90s fastball plus a solid splitter and slider, but he'll
have to battle righthander Jeff Weaver for the fifth spot in New
York's crowded rotation. This spring Contreras's stuff will get
its first test against big league hitters since a 1999 exhibition
game against the Baltimore Orioles; if he falters, he'll become
the Yankees' latest luxury: baseball's first $8 million middle

DANNY GRAVES, RH, REDS Last season Cincinnati starting pitchers
had a 4.69 ERA, fourth worst in the National League, and averaged
a league-low 5.4 innings per start. To boost the lackluster
rotation, Graves, 29, who has saved at least 27 games in four
straight seasons, was relocated from the bullpen in September and
went 1--0 with a 1.89 ERA in a four-start test-drive. He must
prove that he has the stamina to work deep into games and the
arsenal of pitches to complement his sinker and make him
effective for three or four trips through the batting order.

KAZUHISA ISHII, LH, DODGERS As a 29-year-old rookie he was 14--10
with a 4.27 ERA despite a league-high 106 walks. But his season
ended badly on Sept. 8, when he was struck in the forehead by a
Brian Hunter line drive that fractured his skull. The easygoing
Ishii says he isn't gun-shy and has tweaked his follow-through to
improve his fielding position, but similar injuries have derailed
careers before (Boston's Bryce Florie, Cleveland's Herb Score).

JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, RH, CARDINALS He saved 32 games last season
but suffered elbow and shoulder injuries, lost a few miles per
hour on his fastball and by the fall couldn't work more than an
inning per appearance. In October he underwent arthroscopic
surgery to repair a torn right labrum--the fifth operation of his
career--and his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule, but he may
not be ready by Opening Day. He must quickly reestablish the arm
strength, durability and velocity that made him a dominant
closer.--Daniel G. Habib