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link to Miami Herald article

 

Levrault's trip is all business

Posted on Tue, Jun. 10, 2003?

Marlin: Brewers were `wrong'

BY KEVIN BAXTER

 

Allen Levrault returns to the scene of the crime tonight, for it was on the mound at Miller Park that Levrault says he was misused, refused and abused during his two seasons with the Brewers.

 

And with the Marlins heading to Milwaukee for a three-game series starting tonight, he's seeking justice -- with a vengeance.

 

''I want to show them that they were wrong and that I can pitch in the major leagues,'' the reliever said. ``I'm not mad. But I want to show them who was wrong, you know what I'm saying?''

 

The numbers he has put up for the Marlins certainly suggest someone in Milwaukee made a mistake. Since being called up from Triple A Albuquerque (N.M.) at the end of April, Levrault has appeared in 14 games, going 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings.

 

In parts of two seasons with the Brewers, the right-hander was 6-11 with a 5.93 ERA. He divided his time almost equally between the rotation, the bullpen and Milwaukee's Triple A affiliate in Indianapolis.

 

Levrault attributes his inconsistency to not knowing his role.

 

''It was just kind of ridiculous,'' he said. ``Every time I got called up, [i was] sent down if I had a bad start. Or I'd come out of the rotation. I'd be in the bullpen and then I'd be sent down and called back up and sent down and called back up.

 

``It was a drag on my truck. I put a lot of miles on my truck, Indianapolis to Milwaukee every month.''

 

It was a drag on his confidence, too. But now that he has begun to establish himself with Florida, his role might be changing again. With Vladimir N??ez continuing to struggle and with Tim Spooneybarger on pace to set a career high for innings pitched, manager Jack McKeon said he might use Levrault in a set-up role alongside Spooneybarger.

 

''He's come out there and done a pretty good job,'' McKeon said. ``The more he's been out there, the better he's pitched, the more confidence he's got. I'm real happy with him.''

 

And Levrault appreciates that support.

 

''Ever since I started relieving, that's what I wanted to do. I want to set up,'' Levrault said. ``Every time I'm out there, the game's on the line. It's a great feeling. It's awesome.''

 

A 13th-round draft pick out of Westport, Mass., Levrault was 7-13 with an ERA over 5.00 in his first two minor-league seasons. But he improved dramatically in his third season, leading the Single A California League in complete games while winning nine of 12 decisions with a 2.87 ERA at Stockton.

 

In 1999, he was named the Brewers' minor-league pitcher of the year after going 10-5 in a season split between Double A Huntsville (Ala.) and Triple A Louisville (Ky.).

 

He made his big-league debut the following June, then got to know every truck stop between Indiana and Wisconsin over the next 15 months, making the trip between Milwaukee and Indianapolis more than a dozen times.

 

''I don't know what I did wrong there, you know what I'm saying?'' said Levrault, 25. ``I didn't pitch for 20 days at one point. And then they start me, they put me in the 'pen. It was miserable.''

 

The Brewers eventually placed him on waivers. He spent last season in the Oakland Athletics organization before signing with the Marlins as a free agent in December. The move has done wonders for Levrault, and Florida's hiring of McKeon hasn't hurt, either.

 

Levrault, who is about as subtle as his fastball, has thrived under the old-school manager's no-nonsense approach.

 

''This is my role in the bullpen: Anytime the phone rings, be ready,'' he said, dropping his R's and and drawing out his A's like a Boston cabbie. ``Whenever Jack gets me up, I'm ready to pitch. I don't care what inning it is, I don't care if there's men on base. I don't care. I'm just ready to pitch.''

 

I'm really pulling for this guy. Wait'll you hear him in an interview or something, his enthusiasm is really refreshing.

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