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Wagner frustrated with fastball location


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Miami – Billy Wagner is one of only five relievers in history to save 400 games. He has also blown 67 of them in his career.

But it still never sits right. And it hasn’t after he blew consecutive saves this week. That’s twice in his past two outings entering Saturday, after only three blown saves in his first 24 opportunities this season.

“It’s very frustrating,” Wagner said Saturday. “You have games won, you want to win them. The one guy that can’t have bad days is your closer. When he does have it, it’s tough.”

After blowing saves on both Wednesday against he Padres and Friday night against the Marlins, Wagner took to the bullpen to work on his feel and release point.

Wagner said it hasn’t been a lack of velocity that’s bothered him so much as location with his fastball on the inner half of the plate. He was still hitting 95, 96 mph on the radar gun Friday night.

“If I’d have just slowed down, I’d have been fine,” Wagner said. “Instead of getting out in the heat of the moment and trying to do too much with something when you didn’t have that that day. You realize that a lot more than when you’re younger and you say, ‘****, I just need to throw harder.’ Now it’s just relaxing and saying, ‘My stuff is fine, I can get people out.’”

Wagner turns 39 on Sunday. He pitches with aches and pains. He’s been pitching with ankle soreness but says that’s just part of what a pitcher goes through over the course of the season.

“It hasn’t been a factor,” said Wagner, who drew manager Bobby Cox out of the dugout momentarily Friday night, thinking he’d tweaked it. “Before anybody even knew about it, I was out there pitching and dealing with it and it’s been fine. I hurt it the game against Tampa Bay (on June 17) and I’ve pitched with it ever since.”

That included a stretch of six perfect outings before Wednesday.

“You’re going to get hit once in a while,” Cox said. “That’s all there is to it. Everybody does.”

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