Monday, April 23, 2007

Just Call Grady Mr. Kevlar

Grady Little is taking bullets for Brad Penny:

Grady Little remains composed even in the most stressful circumstances. So when he was ejected Saturday night, there was method to his meltdown.

Pitcher Brad Penny lost his cool several times last season, and although he seems to have acquired an impressive sense of calm since then, Little wasn't taking any chances when plate umpire Joe West didn't call a close pitch at the knees a strike in the third inning.

Little went to the mound, waited until West ventured out to join the conversation, then basically told him everything Penny wished he could have said. Little was ejected for only the second time in two seasons as Dodgers manager, Penny settled down, and the Dodgers eventually won in 10 innings on Russell Martin's grand slam.

A day later, Penny was appreciative but uncomfortable with the perception that without Little's intervention he might have blown up.

"I don't want people to feel that Grady had to take a bullet for me," Penny said. "I'm not going to get thrown out of another game."

In all seriousness, enough from the press about Brad Penny's short temper, which has been under such control this year that it seems like he's almost complacent. Frankly, Penny's fire is half of what makes him such a gamer when he's out on the mound, and he doesn't need the media psychoanalyzing every time he exhibits a little emotion. Having your overpowering fastball pitchers demonstrate some vigor isn't such a bad thing (see: Gagne, Eric) unless you're certifiably crazy (see: Perez, Carlos). And it's not like the stoic nature formerly demonstrated by Shawn Green ever got us a postseason series victory.

Little was great to come to Penny's defense, but it would be fine if Penny showed some bark, too. His performance so far this year certainly shows he can back it up.