August 24, 2007

WORKING WITHOUT A NET:

Niekro to keep testing his knuckleball in Fresno (Andrew Baggarly, 8/24/07, Contra Costa Times)

For years, the Giants wouldn't let first baseman Lance Niekro throw his knuckleball, which was like telling one of the Wallendas that he couldn't touch a trapeze.

Now Niekro's family parlor trick might be the one thing that keeps him in the organization. His experimentation with the knuckler will continue at Triple-A Fresno, and if it's successful, the Giants could have a potent two-way player at the end of their bench next season.

"We know he's got a good one," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. "It's just a matter of throwing it to hitters. It's a big bridge to cross. It's a lot different from playing catch with it. You've got to be competitive, throw it in the strike zone."

Niekro's late father, Joe, was an accomplished knuckleball pitcher for more than two decades; his uncle, Phil, rode his knuckler to the Hall of Fame.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 24, 2007 6:22 AM
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