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Koplove making his claim for Bullpen spot


Eddie Altamonte
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http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/sfl-spm...la-sports-front

 

Koplove joins dogfight for bullpen spot

 

By Juan C. Rodriguez

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

February 24, 2007

 

JUPITER? Mike Koplove's sidearm delivery probably has brought him a little more attention than he otherwise would have enjoyed bouncing between the minors and majors since 2001.

 

He can still walk the streets unnoticed -- unless his dog is with him.

 

A stroll with Roosevelt is a surefire way for people to approach Koplove. Roosevelt is a Weimaraner, the striking gray-coated breed William Wegman made famous. Wegman dressed up his Weimaraners for everything from photographs to commercials to educational videos and Sesame Street appearances.

 

"Every time I take him out people stop me," said Koplove, a member of the Diamondbacks organization for nine seasons before signing a minor league deal with the Marlins. "It's a really pretty breed and he's a good dog, a good companion for me, especially traveling back and forth all over the country."

 

If all goes well for his master, Roosevelt could find himself taking his walks on the beach.

 

Koplove, along with Felix Rodriguez and Wes Obermueller, is among the most experienced non-roster relievers in camp vying for a bullpen spot. As recently as 2004, Koplove made 76 appearances and totaled 862/3 innings for the Diamondbacks.

 

Since his 2001 big-league debut, the 2004 season is the only one in which Koplove hasn't spent some time in the minors.

 

In 2005, Koplove lost the feel for his changeup and slider, and struggled trying to get by with a sinker.

 

"Even if it's a good sinker, it's hard to get people out when they know that's coming," he said. "Last year I got it back a little bit and feel great with [the slider and changeup] this spring."

 

Though Koplove has totaled 2482/3 innings over six years with the Diamondbacks, the right-hander arrived in Marlins camp not knowing anybody. He's played against most of his new teammates, but bench coach Carlos Tosca is the only person who at one time wore the same Diamondbacks uniform.

 

Last season Tosca and Koplove weren't part of the same outfit very long. Despite going 5-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 48 appearances at Triple-A, Koplove pitched in just two games for the Diamondbacks.

 

"His sinker was running off the plate and his breaking ball, he couldn't get that little snap on it where it would have the appearance of a strike and go into a ball," said Tosca, of Koplove's 2005 regression. "It was a ball from the time it left his hand. Next thing you know he's staring at 2-1, 3-1 counts and he's got to pitch strike one, strike two, and be able to expand the strike zone ... His delivery and his deception is a big thing."

 

Until the Diamondbacks selected him with the 29th round of 1998 draft, Koplove split time in college (Northwestern and Delaware) between the mound and shortstop.

 

"First basemen weren't crazy about me," said Koplove, adding he's thrown sidearm all his life.

 

Roosevelt can help him get noticed just about anywhere. In Marlins camp, Koplove is on his own.

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