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Pinch-hitting not easy for Easley

Pinch-hitting not easy for Mets' Easley

NEW YORK -- Two negatives don't always yield a positive. So it was Friday night when Damion Easley served as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of the Mets' loss to the Braves. He was to lead off the inning against Will Ohman, the Braves reliever he had faced once previously. And Ohman just had entered the game.

"Not much of an opportunity to prepare," Easley would say Saturday morning. "[I] didn't know much about him, didn't get a chance to see him throw."

What Easley knew was that Ohman was left-handed, so he was sent to pinch-hit for left-handed-hitting Marlon Anderson.

"It made sense," Easley said. "But that doesn't make it easy."

He took a ball from Ohman, then flied out to left-center, testing the revised air currents created by Citi Field. The ball had carry; it often does when his swing sends a pitch to left-center. But Citi Field didn't help, and Easley returned to the dugout.

Easley held his thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart Saturday as he discussed the at-bat -- he had missed Ohman's pitch by that much on the bat.

"Got out in front a little," Easley said.

Otherwise, Easley might have hit his first 2008 home run. But how much could be expected? He hadn't seen a live pitch in three days and had merely six at-bats in 12 days. His timing was "messed up" he said.

"And since the job of the pitcher is to mess up my timing, it wasn't a good thing," Easley continued. "Those two negatives don't make a positive. Not in this game."

Easley's first pinch-hit at-bat of the season had born no fruit. He just had been thrust into the most challenging job in sports. Many will argue hitting a baseball is, generally, the most difficult task. Pinch-hitting is worse.

"You're going up there cold and usually you're facing a guy [a reliever] with two nasty pitches," Easley said. "And the first time you get to size him up might be when you're in the box, facing him."

Easley had had a modicum of success in the role. "I'm not great at it" is how he characterized his pinch-hitting prowess.

"That's why I can't comprehend what some of these guys do," he continued. "Lenny Harris [the all-time leader in pinch-hits , 212]. How can you get that many hits in that situation?

"And I marvel at what Marlon [Anderson] can do. The kind of contact he makes regularly."

Anderson, as accomplished as he is as a pinch-hitter -- he had a .295 career average in that role before this season -- had been ineffective in the role this season until Thursday, when he hit the ninth pinch-hit home run of his career, against the Nationals. It was his second hit in 17 pinch-hit at-bats.

"And Marlon can do that job," Easley said. "But even he has to live with the consequences. It's not easy."

Marty Noble 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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