Wilson finally fulfilling promise

Updated: April 19, 2004, 9:07 AM ET
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
Like Greg Maddux, Jamie Moyer and countless other pitchers who thrive on movement and changing speeds, Reds starter Paul Wilson believes radar guns are a more valuable tool in the hands of state troopers than baseball scouts.

Wilson never felt that way 10 years ago at Florida State University, where he embraced gun readings for the sense of validation they provided. It was comforting to know that if you missed your spot and threw a fastball down the middle, the pitch was traveling 96 mph and the hitter might swing though it regardless.

Then Wilson blew out his shoulder and elbow in the mother of bad-luck quinielas. Nothing changes a man's perspective like two surgeries in three years. And nothing cultivates loneliness like the solitude of rehab, which teases an athlete by allowing him to be just close enough to the action to realize how desperately he misses it.

Now Wilson, 31, is in Cincinnati preaching the gospel of finesse. He's 2-0 with a 0.63 ERA for the Reds, and pitching the way people expected when the New York Mets chose him first overall in the 1994 draft.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer