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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mike Williams, Got Relaxed - 3067

Coming back to the majors for his second season, Mike Williams looked back on his first, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote.

In that first season, Williams started five games for the Phillies, picking up a single win and an ERA of 5.34. Going into his second, Williams looked to do better, building on that first campaign, he told The Inquirer.

"I don't think I ever relaxed last year," Williams told The Inquirer. "If I get relaxed and throw the way I can, I know I can pitch up there. I think that's the biggest thing I learned (during the brief stay)."

Williams eventually learned enough to stick in the majors for a total of 12 seasons. He served as both a starter and a reliever, but it was for his time as a reliever, or closer, that Williams is best known.

Mid-way through that major league career, Williams turned stopper for the Pirates. By the time he was done, Williams had 144 career saves. He also had two All-Star appearances.

Williams' career began in 1990, taken by the Phillies in the 14th round, out of Virginia Tech.

With the Phillies, Williams started at short-season Batavia, moving to high-A Clearwater and AA Reading in 1991.

It was in 1992, Williams' third pro season, that he debuted in Philadelphia, as a starter. In five starts, Williams went 1-1, with a 5.34 ERA.

He returned to Philadelphia for 17 games, four starts, in 1993, then 12 games, eight starts in 1994. He got his first extended time with the Phillies in 1995, with 33 outings, eight starts. He posted a 3.29 ERA that year, picking up three wins.

"I think it helped me, going up and down like I did," Williams told The Inquirer in March 1996. "It made me stronger mentally. Every time I came up, I would learn something. I would learn a little more about the hitters in the league. I would learn more about the guys on the team. I learned something about baseball."

Williams took what he learned and turned starter for 1996. He got 32 outings, 29 of them starts. He also went 6-14 in his last season in Philadelphia.

After moving to the Royals in 1997 and getting just 10 outings, Williams arrived with the team that would turn him into a closer, the Pirates.

It was in 1999 that Williams became the Bucs' stopper. He picked up 23 saves that year and 24 the next.

"It was tough at first," Williams told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in May 1999 of his move to the closer's role, "but I like it. But it's tougher getting three outs in the ninth inning than it is getting three outs in the first inning."

Williams then picked up 22 saves for the Pirates in 2001, before being traded at the deadline to the Astros. He returned to the Pirates for 2002. This time, he picked up 46 saves, the third most in the league. He also got his first All-Star nod.

Williams picked up another 28 saves in 2003, 25 for the Pirates and three after getting traded to the Phillies. It was his second All-Star season. It was also his final season in the majors.

In 2002, after his first All-Star selection, Williams told The Beaver County Times the selection, in his 11th major league season, was satisfying.

"I didn't do cartwheels when I got the news," Williams told The Times, "that's not my personality. But it was a really good feeling, a satisfying type of feeling."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,186
Made the Majors: 680 - 57.3%-X
Never Made Majors: 506-42.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 293-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 174

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