10/02/2002 2:27 pm ET
Rueter making a name for himself
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- San Francisco Giants left-handed pitcher Kirk Rueter showed up early for his media session and didn't mind waiting.
Leaning against a trash can, joking about the frequent misspellings of his surname. There's the E-U switcheroo; the various spellings that can be connected to the pronunciation, "REE-tur," and how many T's are there, anyhow? It probably hasn't been fun for Rueter to read about himself, but talking about it Wednesday morning sure beat stretching and running in Southern humidity at Turner Field.
Interestingly, Rueter (14-8, 3.23 ERA), who will start Thursday night's Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, might be the best pitcher whose name is not known, much less spelled correctly. With the Giants leading the best-of-five series thanks to Wednesday's 8-5 victory, Rueter's name will be in headlines.
On Tuesday, Atlanta's Tom Glavine, the king of the court of lefties who lack power arms but operate with pinpoint control, said Rueter is one of his most accomplished subjects even though he is "one of the more underrated pitchers in the game."
For a guy who knows that seeing his name spelled right is an iffy proposition, he doesn't expect to be mentioned in the same breath as Glavine even though he has won in double figures for six straight seasons -- the first Giants pitcher to accomplish that since Juan Marichal (1961-71) and Gaylord Perry (1966-71), and is 109-68 in the Major Leagues.
"I don't read too much about how other people see me," Rueter said. "I don't put myself in Tom Glavine's class. He's done it for so many years and been such a great pitcher for the Braves that I probably would have to do it another 10 years, what I've done here in San Francisco."
This season, Rueter, 31, pitched a career-high 203 2/3 innings and strengthened as the season grew later, going 7-2 with a 2.81 ERA over his final 13 starts.
Rueter has posted a better season, 16-9 in 1998. But he rates this season as his best.
"Usually, I went through some years where I had good stretches, but then I'd have two or three games in a row where I would get knocked around and not give my team a chance to win the game," he said. "My main goal is just to help the team win at the end of the game. And this year was by far the most consistent."
Thursday night will be his second playoff start. In his first, a no-decision against Florida in Game 1 of the 1997 NL Division Series, he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. He was disappointed he did not get a start in the 2000 NL Division Series, which the Giants lost to the New York Mets, but he did pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.
But Rueter includes the stretch of this season, as the Giants overtook the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL Wild Card spot, as playoff experience.
"It feels like we have been playing playoff games for the last month to month and a half," he said. "Especially, we played the Dodgers seven games within a week coming down the stretch. The Giants and Dodgers is definitely a playoff atmosphere. It can't do nothing but help."
A strong playoff performance will definitely get his name out there, and maybe it'll be spelled correctly.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.