Zito to work things out in bullpen
Struggling left-hander has lost career-worst six straight starts
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito calmly accepted his demotion to the bullpen Monday and vowed that he soon would rejoin the Giants' starting rotation, although manager Bruce Bochy didn't offer a timetable for that event.Bochy announced the move one day after Zito's worst performance of the season, a three-inning, eight-run outing in a 10-1 loss to Cincinnati. That dropped Zito's record to a Major League-worst 0-6. He also owns a 7.53 ERA and a .336 opponents' batting average, well above the respective National League averages of 4.06 and .255. "It's a good time to take a good, hard look at how I approach things and evaluate it," said Zito, the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2002. "Sometimes in your life you have to make a change and adjustments." Pitching out of the bullpen will be an adjustment for Zito, who has started in all but one of his 262 lifetime Major League appearances. He worked a perfect inning at San Diego last Aug. 5. "It's part of the game," Zito said. "I'm certainly not happy with it by any means. This is the bed that I've made; I can lay in it for the time being." The length of time Zito will spend in the bullpen remains indefinite, although a strong performance or two obviously would hasten his return to the rotation. Bochy was mostly non-committal -- "We'll watch and see how things go," he said -- although when he was asked whether Zito would miss only one turn through the rotation, he said, "Sure, that's my hope." For now, Pat Misch will occupy one of the rotation's two vacancies. The other was created by Kevin Correia's strained muscle in his left side that has put him on the 15-day disabled list. Because of scheduled off-days, the Giants won't need a fifth starter until May 10. Zito, who has struggled with command and location of his deliveries, contended that neither velocity nor his pitching mechanics -- which he has tinkered with frequently -- is an issue. "It's not about stuff, it's not about velocity, it's about attacking the strike zone and being aggressive," said Zito, admitting that he has strayed from that approach. In that respect, Zito acknowledged that he needs to tweak his mental outlook. "It's a mind-set," he said. Despite his 113-82 career record, Zito experienced periods of adversity in Oakland. He was 6-7 with a 5.01 ERA through late July in 2001, began 2005 with an 0-4 record and a 6.60 ERA in April and was 1-2, 7.54 through his first three starts of 2006.
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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.