Wagner arrives to anchor bullpen

Updated: January 26, 2004, 11:02 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Every great pitcher has an unscratchable itch -- a hitter who annoys him for no apparent reason. Who can explain, for example, why a nondescript Florida Marlins catcher named Mike Redmond treats Tom Glavine as his personal valet, or why Enrique Wilson has a .500 average in 20 career at-bats against Pedro Martinez?

Billy Wagner

When Billy Wagner compiles his list of personal pests, Placido Polanco ranks near the top of the pack. So it's understandable when Wagner says he's glad the two are now teammates in Philadelphia. From the way Wagner talks, Polanco is his personal Howard Dean Iowa caucus speech -- a nightmarish experience that refuses to go away.

"I wouldn't say Polanco wears me out, but I have to throw 20 pitches to get him out," Wagner said. "I'm so wore out, I can't get anybody else out."

To verify Wagner's take on the situation, we checked ESPN.com's hitter-batter matchups. Polanco, it turns out, has a lonely single in 13 career at-bats against Wagner, for an average of .077. Which proves either Wagner has a) especially high standards; or b) a memory that's short even by closer standards.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer