CHICAGO -- Reds reliever Todd Coffey is accountable and not delusional. Coffey knows he's not pitching well lately, and he's taking it hard. "The way I'm throwing right now, I'm embarrassed," Coffey said on Wednesday. "I'm embarrassed for the team, [manager] Dusty [Baker], [pitching coach] Dick [Pole], the bullpen. I don't care what I have to do -- even if I have to throw left-handed -- I've got to get these guys out."
Coffey leads the pitching staff with eight appearances but has an 8.00 ERA. He's allowed 13 hits, including three home runs, over nine innings. In Tuesday's game vs. the Cubs, Coffey was summoned from the bullpen in the eighth inning with one out and a runner on first base. Chicago led by a 7-4 score. First batter Ryan Theriot hit a 1-0 fastball for a game-icing two-run home run. Next batter Derrek Lee singled. The Cubs went on to win, 9-5. "There's no one in the world that's going to take it any harder than myself with the way I'm throwing," Coffey said. "I have a job to do. Last night my job was to come in the game and keep us right there and give us a chance to keep the game in reach. I didn't do that. I put the game out of reach." On Sunday during a 9-1 loss at Pittsburgh, Coffey gave up four earned runs and three hits, including a three-run homer to Jason Bay, during his one inning. Back in Spring Training, Coffey was nearly unhittable. He had a 0.96 ERA in nine games and didn't allow the one run until his final outing. Opposing hitters batted .100 (3-for-30). And he was 25 pounds lighter after an extensive offseason conditioning program. It was an important showing because Coffey was coming off of a lousy 2007. He posted a 5.82 ERA in 58 games for Cincinnati and was on a yo-yo going up and down between the Majors and Triple-A Louisville. "He's just centering up too many balls over the heart of the plate," Baker said of Coffey's current trouble. "That's the major difference. Most of them are fastballs. Most of the league knows what he's going to come in and do. The check swing he got on a first-pitch slider to one of the hitters last night told me they were sitting dead red.
"He's a rare guy that actually throws too many strikes. That's rare with a big guy and a fastball pitcher."Coffey knows he needs to correct his glitches, and fast. "Regardless of what happens, I have to get some outs," he said. "I have to shut them down."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.