Visit to McCarthy's Hometown...........Kenny Mayne

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One Day Removed From Closing Duties, Gagné Says He's Ready to Close Again

Just one day removed from his closing duties, former Brewers closer Eric Gagné says he's ready to start closing games for the Milwaukee Brewers.

"I know I belong in the ninth inning," Gagné said Monday afternoon.

Gagné was summoned into a game before the eighth inning for the first time since April 2, 2002. Entering in the seventh with the Brewers leading St. Louis, 8-1, Gagné allowed two hits, two walks and a run in two innings of work.

"I had my mental break (Sunday). I'm good to go now," he said. "I know I'm a great closer. I know I'm going to do all right. I've just got to work out of it. It's just a confidence thing. The only way you'll be all right is keep going out there in a closing situation."

Gagné admitted a loss of confidence, which was only natural, considering the pounding he has taken this season. Though he ranks among the league leaders with nine saves, Gagné is 1-2 with a 6.62 earned run average, with 20 hits, 13 walks and 13 runs allowed in 17 2/3 innings.

Gagné has a burdensome 1.87 WHIP (walks and hits per inning). He has not pitched a clean inning in 10 outings.

The 32-year-old right-hander spent time in the outfield during batting practice, chatting with St. Louis' Jason Isringhausen, who also was removed as his club's closer over the weekend and was used in the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 8-3 defeat.

"It always helps to talk to closers," Gagné said. "We're the only people that really know how we feel. We're a little different."

Gagné said he also benefited from the arrival of wife Valerie, whom he had not seen since spring training.

"She told me it's stupid to doubt myself," he said. "I also talked to my friends and family. I was frustrated. It was good to take a step back.

"As a closer, you feel like you let the team down (when you fail). That's part of it. It's hard to go home and feel good about yourself when you do that. The next time I go out there, am I going to succeed? I don't know. But I expect to succeed."

Gagné said he thought his stuff was still sufficient to close games. And he made it clear that he wasn't saying Saturday, after surrendering the losing runs in the ninth, that he didn't want to close. He meant that he didn't deserve it because of his repeated failures.

As for getting his confidence back, Gagné said, "If you do good, you don't worry about it. That's exactly what I need to go back to. I need to go back to the way I was before: no doubt, no negative thinking, just go out and do my job.

"I know I'm ready. I just want to keep going back out there. There's a lot of frustration I went through this year and last year. But I'm going to go out there, save situation or not."

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