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Notes: Eyre changes for better
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09/18/2004 2:05 AM ET
Notes: Eyre changes for better
Lefty learned to trust changeup over heat
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SAN FRANCISCO -- When Giants reliever Scott Eyre is in a musing mood, he thinks about how his seven-year Major League career might be longer and more successful if he'd only listened and learned in pregame meetings long ago.

What a silly kid.

   Scott Eyre  /   P
Born: 05/30/72
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Coaches would always warn young hurlers to throw certain pitches to certain players, maybe sliders or cutters or changes to keep them off guard. Not Eyre. Hey, the left-hander could throw a fastball so sizzling you could grill hot dogs in its afterglow.

Hot stuff, baby. Throw it hard. Strike 'em out. Don't be cute.

But look at Eyre now, all grown up at 32 but still learning the nuances of his craft and racking up impressive numbers -- fourth in the National League for stranding 84.2 percent of runners, eighth best in the Majors in that category since 2002 -- as the Giants charge full-bore toward a possible playoff berth.

The colorful Giant has already matched his career high with 74 appearances this season and is only three outings shy of San Francisco's single-season record for a left-hander, set by Gary Lavelle in 1984.

We're not done. He's worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his last seven outings, and before a slump in which he was touched for a 9.42 ERA over 14 1/3 innings, he sported an 0.87 ERA over 23 efforts.

The changeup has become a favored pitch now, and he used it to great effectiveness against Milwaukee last Tuesday, striking out three batters in 1 2/3 innings. Where did that come from? His left hand, of course.

"I've always thrown the change, but when I'm solid with my mechanics and stay short with my front leg, it works," said Eyre. "Whenever I throw it well, it gets good downward action. Even Noah Lowry called it a 'nasty changeup,' and he has a great one."

That's the great lesson Eyre absorbed -- throw it with great location and some movement and it'll get the job done. Hard, harder, hardest won't cut it.

"Look at Randy Johnson. The guy throws 97 mph, but half of his strikeouts are on sliders," said Eyre. "It's not straight. I remember Matt Anderson threw a 102 mph fastball to Frank Thomas and he hit it out. That's why I'm better now, a lot smarter. I learned how to pitch -- you can't just throw it by people."

Eyre laughed that he even threw changeups to Todd Helton and Shawn Green this year and "I got some funny faces from them, like 'What was that?'"

Tell you what, Eyre has indeed changed his ways.

"I finally started paying attention in meetings now," he said with a laugh.

   A.J. Pierzynski  /   C
Born: 12/30/76
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

Devilish eyes: A.J. Pierzynski's irises glowed bright red after the final game in Milwaukee on Thursday -- a spooky look to be sure, but it could be a trend. Blood-red eyes? Indeed.

The catcher is a Nike "guinea pig," wearing special prescription Sportsight contact lenses tinted red, which softens glares and helps neutralize deep shadows during games.

"It helped with the sun in Milwaukee, and since I never get any hits there I thought I'd try it," said Pierzynski, who describes the effect as similar to wearing sunglasses or mini neutral-density filters.

"I wore them a couple times in Spring Training and it makes lights more orange, and it basically even things out for you," said Pierzynski. "It tones down the shadows and makes the ball stand out."

Bobby Bonds honored: The Giants Community Fund will dedicate its eighth Junior Giants baseball park -- named Bobby Bonds Memorial Field -- at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Daly City on Friday, Sept. 24.

Principal partner in the construction of the field is the Good Tidings Foundation with assistance from Applied Materials and Daly City.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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