10/09/2002 9:37 pm ET
Schmidt looking to rebound
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Giants manager Dusty Baker made it a point to have real advice just in case pitcher Jason Schmidt needed it.
We're not talking about curveball vs. fastball or "just throw strikes." This was before any of that became pertinent -- if anything like that really is pertinent when a pitcher is in trouble.
No, this was real-life advice. The kind that puts into perspective whatever pressure Schmidt will be facing Thursday night, when he starts Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Schmidt learned during Spring Training that his mother, Vicki Schmidt, was diagnosed with brain cancer and the battle would be difficult. The groin problems Schmidt himself was facing during the spring weren't important.
Enter Baker, who survived his own bout with prostate cancer this past offseason.
"I know we've had a number of discussions about different natural medicines and potential enzymes, things that I take every day, different vitamins, different anti-oxidants to hopefully help the situation," Baker said. "I was glad that I had just come through it a few months before, and I could sort of help him.
"A lot of times you can say you understand but unless you've been in that situation you don't really understand -- and I still don't understand, because mine really wasn't as tragic as his mom's illness."
Schmidt missed the first month with the groin problem, then went 13-8 with a 3.45 ERA, all the while pitching with his mom in his heart. On the eve of his first playoff start, he thought about his mom, who is still fighting the disease.
"It's something she'll be able to remember and I'll always be able to think back on -- memories more than anything," Schmidt said.
Schmidt will be looking to improve on that first playoff start, a 10-2 loss to Atlanta in Game 3 of the NL Division Series. He allowed four runs, on three hits and four walks, in 5 2/3 innings. Schmidt struck out five, but lacked consistency.
"I think any time -- I was in my first playoff game -- but any game you look back there are a lot of should-have, would-have and could-haves, and I was thinking about that all the time," Schmidt said. "You have a quality game going into the sixth inning, and end up walking the bases loaded. Obviously, you don't want that to happen again.
"(It's a matter of) just going out and maybe being a little more aggressive. Make more pitches than did I last time. Kind of simplify things a little bit."
Schmidt, 29, isn't looking back at the loss to the Braves as much as he is looking forward to Thursday night.
"I think anybody in baseball will tell you, coming here is one of the best places to play in the big leagues; now we've got a chance to do it in the playoffs, as well," Schmidt said. "This is a first-rate organization, and to get an opportunity to pitch here in a situation like this is an honor."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.