NEW YORK -- Joe Smith, the sidearm right-hander obtained on a three-year, $15.75 million contract last offseason, has never really been a closer, per se. He has three career saves in 450 appearances, all last season, but they came as a temporary necessity, not necessarily a promotion.
Some believe nothing compares to the pressure of the ninth inning.
"I don't know, man, I don't buy into that," he said. "For me, it's just go up there and put up zeros. I'm going to pitch the exact same way. Obviously, if you blow the lead, you lose. I get that part of it. But I've blown plenty of games in my career, any inning. Either way, it [stinks]. So I don't put too much thought into it. My goal is to go out there, put up a zero, and get off the field as quickly as I can."
Smith was named the closer on Friday, one game removed from Ernesto Frieri's ninth-inning meltdown in Washington. The move is expected to be temporary, until Frieri regains his confidence and finds his release point. But there's also a chance Smith -- with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 224 appearances since 2011 -- takes the promotion and runs with it.
"Obviously, everybody in the bullpen wants to be the closer," Smith said. "But I would've much rather have had it happen in a different scenario than something like this, because for us to be good, we need Ernie."