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  Wed, June 2, 2004


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Frasor's got game
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

He is standing in front of his locker buttoning his shirt.

You look from afar, wondering whether the locker doubles as a phone booth.

Jason Frasor weighs 170 pounds and stands all of 5-foot-10. Or "5-foot-10 1/2 if you like him, 5-foot-9, if you don't," as the old scouts line about players goes.

To the Blue Jays, Frasor looks as tall enough to post up for the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

He's not Superman and he doesn't wear a cape, but inside the jersey lies a closer in the making.

Going into last night's game at Safeco Field in Seattle, Frasor had reeled off 11 consecutive runless outings, covering 12 2/3 innings.

On April 28, Frasor allowed two runs in a 9-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Before that he had five runless outings.

That is not a misprint beside his name: A 0.81 earned-run average in 22 1/3 innings, walking 10 and striking out 14.

Not bad for a guy who was standing in front of a single-A Florida State locker a year ago at Vero Beach.

When on the mound with a one-run lead, Frasor looks as if he's getting ready for a "B" game in the spring playing in front of coaches and family members.

He's 26, but in terms of experience there should be swamps behind his ears when it comes to closing in the majors.

"What surprises me most, besides his velocity, is his mentality," said Roy Halladay, who knows a thing or two about the technical aspects of pitching as well as the mental side.

"For a young guy to come up and not show any emotion is pretty impressive. If he's rattled, he doesn't show it. With him you know he can't be intimidated."

If Frasor was spotted in street clothes, what would be the best guess on his velocity?

"Maybe 72-73 m.p.h.," pitching coach Gil Patterson said jokingly.

"Around 88," manager Carlos Tosca said.

"About 85 ... maybe," bullpen coach Bruce Walton said.

On the mound, Frasor is as consistent as a pitching machine run amok: 93, 93, 94, 94, 95, 95, 93, 94 m.p.h.

Frasor, obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of spring training, may be more impressive than former Jays closer Cliff Politte. We know it is early, but he is unique right down to his warm up.

If you are hanging over the rail in left field watching Frasor warm up, you wouldn't think he was throwing that hard. When bullpen catcher Alex Andreopoulos catches a Frasor pitch, his mitt doesn't pop the way a glove would when a Duane Ward pitch would BOOM into the pocket.

ROUTINE

He prepares as if he was starting.

"He warms up to pitch," Walton said, "he throws about 85 in the bullpen, even when he's on the mound, only the last couple of pitches he throws are close to 90."

And then?

"And then the adrenalin kicks in," Walton said.

And then the radar gun lights up: 94, 93, 95.

"He has a lightening bolt for an arm," Pat Hentgen said.

So, when will the closer be named the closer?

"I'm not naming a closer," Tosca says, raising his hands empathically as if not wanting to jinx his rookie. "I'm going with the hot hand. And right now he has the hot hand."

Hot hand?

Hot? About as hot as camel's feet in the Sahara at noon.