Reliever Logan call away from peak of long journey

LAWRENCEVILLE - Sitting in the dugout at Turner Field a teenaged Boone Logan turned to his father and said, "I want to pitch in this stadium."

About a decade later, the Gwinnett Brave left hander rests on the precipice of making good on that dream.

Logan came to Atlanta as the undercard in the Braves' winter trade with the American Leagues' Chicago White Sox for starting pitching Javier Vazquez. The reliever appeared in 55 games with the White Sox last season, going 2-3 with a 5.95 ERA. Entering the season, Logan was penciled into the big-league roster, but found the eraser when he struggled with his command.

"It came down to him and (Eric) O'Flaherty and he was given every opportunity to make the big-league club, he didn't make it because he couldn't throw the ball over the plate," said Gwinnett Braves' pitching coach Derek Botelho.

The struggles continued early in the year with Gwinnett as Logan slowly adjusted to mechanical changes in his delivery, mostly throwing from a more upright position.

"In the beginning did he fight it? Yes," Botelho said. "Until he started to get more comfortable and he started to getting beat around a little bit. I told him, 'The reason you aren't pitching is because you aren't getting people out consistently.'

"Then, he bought into it and he started working and he went on a pretty good run. He is still on that run."

Better pitching brought more and longer outings to Logan. Since June 1 he has appeared in 10 games, throwing 12 innings. On two occasions he pitched two full innings. A1/3 inning, three-run outing against Columbus ballooned his ERA to 3.75 in those appearances. Minus that short-lived appearance he has a 1.54 ERA in June. But he can't give that game back.

"(That night) was one of those nights, I wasn't feeling like myself out there," Logan said. "Hopefully I can get out there and throw some scoreless innings and get my ERA back down."

Through his next 42/3 innings in four games, he has done just that, allowing no runs, no hits, two walks and striking out five. On the year he has a 2.13 ERA against left handers and has struck out 37 against just 17 walks in 35 innings.

Logan lives for those short bursts of dominant pitching. The former starter has found his role in the bullpen.

"I love it," he said of relief pitching. "They asked me over at the White Sox organization - when I was still over there - they asked me if I ever wanted to start again and I said, 'No, way.'

"I enjoy coming in late in the game when the game is on the line. I enjoy coming in and shutting it down for an inning or two."

Logan was drafted as a starting pitching in 2002 by the White Sox, but four years in rookie ball forced him into the bullpen. His move to the pen sent Logan from rookie league and Class A ball in 2005 to the big leagues 2006.

"I just wasn't good enough at starting," he said.

And that is fine with Logan, who would rather pitch more often and in a variety of situations.

"I like to be able to be involved in more games. I always give starters a hard time because they only pitch every five days. I like being in games and being in the middle of the action as much as I can," Logan said. "We go in there and sometimes they call down (to the bullpen) and you have about five pitches to get ready. Every time they ask if you are ready you always have to say yeah, you never want to say no. That is the thrill of it."

Logan just wants that thrill in Turner Field.

"Boone is a guy, he wants everything to happen immediately," Botelho said. "It's a long season and things happen and changes happen. I know where (he) wants to be. (He) wants to be 28 miles south of us. (He) is going to be there eventually but it is going to take time. It is just a process, that's all."

SideBar: Next Up

· Who: Buffalo Bison

· Where: Gwinnett Stadium

· When: Today-Friday, 7 p.m.

· Radio: WDUN 550-AM

· Affiliation: New York Mets

· Manager: Ken Oberkfell

· Season series: Gwinnett split a four-game series in Buffalo on May 12-15. One of the wins came in double-header on the series' last day after the first rain out of the season.

· Bison update: Buffalo OF Fernando Martinez rejoined the Class AAA team this past weekend after a short stint with the big-league Mets, but the team's leader in home runs and RBIs left again Monday when Carlos Beltran went to the disabled list. ... The team also released INF Wily Mo Pena who was second in RBIs and homers Monday ... The Bison are second to last in the International League in batting average (.241) and last in runs scored (223), two reasons why their 24-33 record is a league worst. ... RHP Nelson Figueroa is in the top ten in the IL with a 2.70 ERA on the season and that is behind two former Gwinnett Braves now in the big leagues, Tommy Hanson (Atlanta) and Charlie Morton (Pittsburgh).

· Did you know? Bison manger Oberkfell played four seasons with the Atlanta Braves from 1984-1988, including the 106-loss 1988 season. Atlanta was 124 games under .500 in that stretch.