High Praise for Camp
Reliever working hard to find his rythm, and it shows
PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hidden in the Devil Rays' 10-8 win over the Yankees
on Monday -- in which most of the attention was paid to Alex Rodriguez's
two home runs as well as the Rays handing their American League East rivals
their fourth loss in a row -- was the performance of Shawn Camp.
Camp entered the game to start the seventh inning with the Devil Rays leading, 7-6, and he immediately allowed a single to Derek Jeter. But the 31-year-old right-hander got Bobby Abreu to ground into a double play to short and then struck out Rodriguez to end the inning.
"That was huge for Camper," said manager Joe Maddon. "He's been coming back slowly this year, but he's a big part of our bullpen. Last year he was the one guy who really did good work for us when something was going on, and he's capable of getting ground ball, a double play like the one he got yesterday."
Maddon praised Camp for rebounding from a difficult start to the season in which he allowed five runs, four earned, in his first five appearances. In his past five outings, though, Camp has surrendered only two hits with no runs in 4 1/3 innings while striking out four.
"I love what he's doing now," said Maddon. "He's held true the whole year, and he hasn't made excuses. He's continued to work, and last night I saw the sinker really dive. That was the difference. It had some depth to it, not flat. That just shows me he's pitching with a lot more confidence and he's a lot more loose."
Camp said that he struggled at the beginning of the year because he was pitching behind in the count due to being a little out of sync.
"My timing was off, and I ran into a little bit of a rut," said Camp. "I was just trying to work on some things, throw more changeups."
After working with pitching coach Jim Hickey, though, Camp slowly redeveloped the same habits that allowed him to compile a 7-4 record with a 4.68 ERA over a club-record 75 appearances in 2006.
"[Hickey] just talked to me about my approach," said Camp. "A lot of it has just been working on my aggressiveness and timing."
Camp said that he found his rhythm last week at home against the Indians, a game he entered with two outs and the bases loaded. He forced Jason Michaels to ground out on a 2-1 count to end the inning, which he says was a boost to his confidence and his technique.
"That was big for me," he said. "Now, in three nights in a row, I've had a lot of ground balls with a lot of success."