A feature on struggling relief pitcher Jay Powell in July 2001 for the Franklin County (Alabama) Times


By Ed M. Odeven
Special to The Star
July 4, 2001
PHOENIX — Perhaps a shakeup will help turn around Jay Powell’s shaky season.

The 29-year-old Houston Astros reliever and former West Lauderdale star was acquired by the Colorado Rockies last Wednesday in exchange for left-hander Ron Villone.

Coming back from season-ending shoulder surgery last August, Powell, a former first round pick out of Mississippi State, regained an important role in the Astros bullpen as a middle-inning reliever. He was first among Astros relievers with 35 appearances.

In 36.1 innings pitched for the Astros, Powell (2-2, 3.72 ERA) had allowed 41 hits while walking 19 and striking out 28.

The most telling statistic?

Powell blew five saves.

“I don’t feel I’ve pitched terrible, but I know I’m better than what I’ve been doing,” Powell said the night before being dealt as Houston faced the Arizona Diamondbacks at BankOne Ballpark.

Houston manager Larry Dierker agreed Powell’s statistics don’t tell the entire story.

“He’s throwing as well as he’s thrown since he’s been here,” Dierker said of the right-hander the Astros acquired from the Florida Marlins in 1998. “And he’s been unlucky, which is something pitchers go through. He’s in a bit of a slump right now, but he’s not in a slump because of his arm. His arm is good. His pitches are good. His control is good.

“I usually bring him into the game with men on base because he usually gets the hitter to hit a ground ball and he very seldom walks anybody, (but in) the last four or five outings everybody has hit a ground ball and they’ve all bounced through the infield.”

However, the poised Powell has not backed away from the challenge of pitching his way out of this slump and coming back from the injury that sidelined him in 2000.

“The main thing going into the season was I wanted to be healthy and just see how it goes coming back.

That was all answered in the first two or three weeks. Now I feel I can pitch a lot better than I’ve been pitching. It’s just a matter of doing it.”

The only difference is Powell will try to bounce back with the perennially pitching-challenged Rockies instead of the Astros.

Ed Odeven is a sports writer with the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Ariz.