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03/10/08 9:08 PM ET
Zito's special delivery has yet to arrive
Giants left-hander in process of altering his pitching mechanics
By Alan Eskew / Special to MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Barry Zito's line in the box score and his Spring Training totals after three starts do not look pretty, but do not be deceived by his March numbers.
In a 15-6 Giants loss to the Royals on Monday, Zito allowed eight runs, three unearned, on five hits and four walks with no strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
Zito, however, is working on a new delivery without his hands going over his head. It is a Spring Training work in progress, not a time to be alarmed.
"I was working on a couple of things mechanically," Zito said. "I was just trying to get comfortable with that. Obviously, the ball was up a little bit, more than I would like. I'll just get back to work tomorrow. Fastball command is everything, so I'll be working on that."
Zito has been refining his new mechanics in bullpen sessions, but had not unveiled them in a game before facing the Royals.
"Spring Training is an opportunity to implement some things in game situations so that you use the adrenaline that you don't get usually in a practice session, in a bullpen," Zito said. "It was the first time doing it. I think it is important to just stick with it and really get the timing.
"I'm eliminating the hands going over the head in the windup and just trying to have a little more continuity in the delivery and less movement."
Zito, the 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star, said the new delivery "feels more comfortable."
"There's less moving parts," he said. "Anytime there are less moving parts, there's less things you have to worry about controlling. So I'm just really working to get the timing of the arm and get that hand break working.
"I'm not going over the head and keeping it in front of me. It feels good in drills. Getting in the game and implementing it obviously it takes some work. It is an adjustment that I think will be the right one. I'm just looking at getting my work in and feeling healthy and just going forward to tomorrow."
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A third-inning error by shortstop Brian Bocock opened the door for three unearned runs off Zito. He left with the bases loaded and two out in the fourth, but reliever Tyler Walker gave up a bases-clearing double to pinch-hitter Damon Hollins. All three runs were charged to Zito's ledger.
"Barry brought it up," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of altering his delivery. "He thought it would be good for him. I think it will take a time or two to get real comfortable with it. I think he likes the feel of it. Too bad, we didn't play real well, which didn't help."
The Giants committed four errors, leading to four unearned runs.
"We're going through a tough streak," Bochy said. "I'm glad we still have a lot of time left. We're still not ready."
Zito dropped to 0-3 with a 17.18 earned run average, allowing 17 runs, 13 earned, on 14 hits and six walks in 7 1/3 innings over three spring starts.