06/30/07 7:15 PM ET
Yankees' frustrations boil over
Proctor takes out aggression on equipment as slide continues
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Perhaps the hot-tempered Proctor hoped to excise some of his recent struggles, lighting a small bonfire a few feet from the top step of the Yankees dugout. He then watched from the railing for several minutes as the contents grew charred and unrecognizable.
Saturday marked the latest of Proctor's continuing struggles, and that of the entire Yankees club as a whole. New York managed just one hit in the defeat, which featured Proctor allowing three runs -- including a two-run double to Nick Swisher -- in one-third of an inning of relief behind starter Kei Igawa, leaving the field to boos.
"I'm just throwing like [junk]," Proctor said after the game in an expletive-laced rant. "I can't expect to throw the ball over the middle and expect to get an out of it."
Though the 30-year-old Proctor started the day in a calm demeanor, petting and playing for about 15 minutes with a bomb-sniffing dog in the Yankees clubhouse, the canine interaction was just a momentary diversion.
The reliever's frustration has intensified of late, beginning when he surrendered Barry Bonds' 749th home run last week at San Francisco. Proctor suffered losses in a June 23 effort against the Giants and on June 26 against the Orioles, offering a bases-loaded, ninth-inning walk in the latter appearance before turning in yet another ineffective showing against the Athletics on Saturday.
Asked about the dual struggles of Proctor and left-hander Mike Myers, who allowed a hit and a walk to follow Proctor, pitching coach Ron Guidry leaned back in a folding chair, his right leg crossed over the left knee, and sighed.
"I wish I had an answer," Guidry said. "Maybe they're just dead tired. We abused them the first month and a half of the season. Maybe they're tired. They were in there almost every day. I don't know. I'm sure we're probably going to talk to them tomorrow and see if there's anything. We've got to make sure they're OK."
In particular, Proctor became a favorite of manager Joe Torre's last season, when he led the American League with 83 appearances and gritted through the heavy workload -- even ignoring a slight clicking sound in his right elbow late in the year.
Lately, though, Proctor has had reason to be hot under the collar.
"He just needs to get his act together based on the fact that he needs to be able to get ahead in the count and locate his pitches," Torre said. "He hasn't been able to do that."
"I know he's frustrated because it's not working," Guidry added, "and sometimes that's a problem -- when you get frustrated -- because you lose all train of thought. You forget what got you where you were."
Torre said he used Proctor over reliever Luis Vizcaino, who later appeared and wrapped up the three-run Oakland seventh inning by recording the final out, because he wanted to get Proctor back into a game after the ninth-inning meltdown on Wednesday at Baltimore.
Proctor said he appreciated the gesture.
"You always want to get back in the game," Proctor said. "You never want to be sitting in the bullpen. You've got to get outs. I've got to get his trust back."
Asked if he believes he has lost Torre's trust, Proctor replied, "I don't know. Only he can say that. But I wouldn't trust me right now, the way I'm throwing. It's pretty pathetic."
As he spoke, Proctor must have wondered what could cleanse such a scenario. Maybe he found it. The flame growing hotter as reporters looked down from the press box of the empty Stadium, Proctor eventually had seen enough, grabbing a large jug of spring water and dousing his self-made blaze.
Minutes before Proctor trucked his belongings down the runway from the home clubhouse and added fire to the equation, Guidry -- correctly, it turned out -- said he'd decided to keep his distance from the struggling fireman.
"I don't think he's in any frame of mind to talk," Guidry said. "But he'll be different tomorrow. I'll talk to him tomorrow and see if there's anything we need to talk about."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.