Scott Kazmir is trying to regain his status as one of the top pitchers in the game. Kazmir has added velocity and is pleased with how new mechanics have improved his offspeed pitches.
03/21/2011 5:12 PM ET
Scott Kazmir making strides
Left-hander has added velocity, improved offspeed pitches
"My changeup had so much movement I couldn't get it over," Kazmir told the Los Angeles Times. "I've just got to get ahead more, and I'll take care of that. I'm coming along. When they're swinging and missing like that and you see the ball jumping past them -- I'm trying to work on that stuff. Not lighting up the guns."
"He still has upside," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We're moving toward that."
Wolf finds success with cutter: Facing his former team, Randy Wolf pitched well against the Dodgers over the weekend. In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out three.
"Yeah, it felt like I was able to throw strikes and mix speeds," Wolf told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Right now, the main thing is throwing strikes and mixing in my offspeed pitches and throwing them for strikes."
Wolf has been working with Milwaukee pitching coach Rick Kranitz on throwing his cutter with a different grip. Wolf was pleased with the results of the pitch during his outing.
"It felt really good," Wolf said. "It's a pitch I'm going to keep on working on and making sure I'm totally comfortable with. My first feel of it today felt really good."
Burnett tabbed as No. 2 starter: For A.J. Burnett, being named the No. 2 starter for the Yankees shows his hard work this spring is paying off.
"It just shows they've seen something out of me this spring," Burnett told the New York Post. "At the same time, they have faith that that was what I was brought here to do."
Isringhausen continues to impress: The more Jason Isringhausen has pitched this spring, the more he impresses the Mets. Isringhausen has not pitched in a Major League game since 2009 after battling back from Tommy John surgery. This spring he has a 1.50 ERA in six relief outings. He has hit the low 90s with his fastball and has shown he can pitch on back-to-back days.
"Right now, we all agree he's throwing the ball very well, and we would like to see him as part of our team," pitching coach Dan Warthen told the New York Post. "The health is the whole issue. If he continues to throw like he's throwing, I think he is part of this team."
Isringhausen is enjoying the challenge of proving that he can still pitch in the Majors.
"I've never been in this situation before -- I've never had to make a team," Isringhausen said. "But it's a good thing because you come in and get your work done, and you can concentrate a little bit more when you're out there.
"I put that in my head when I got here, knowing that Spring Training means something this year -- the numbers mean something. Usually, you're just worried about how your arm feels. You can have a 9.00 ERA and not worry about it. But when you are trying to make a team, that doesn't look too good."
Matsuzaka getting into regular-season mode: Daisuke Matsuzaka had a solid outing for the second consecutive game Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
"I thought he had good tempo, threw strikes," Boston manager Terry Francona told MLB.com. "That's two in a row now. Looks like he's starting to get geared up."
Matsuzaka threw 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs. He struck out four batters (three of them looking).
"I'm pretty much ready for the season," Matsuzaka said.
Francona and pitching coach Curt Young were pleased with Matsuzaka's pace.
"He made a lot of quality pitches today," Young said. "When you stay in the windup, you can have a good tempo. And he was in the windup quite a bit today. It's really just him making quality pitches throughout his outing."
Theriot getting a boost at shortstop from Oquendo: Ryan Theriot is glad to be moving back from second base to shortstop. He says that Jose Oquendo, a longtime Cardinals coach, has been a huge help in his transition.
"I never liked the fact that I was moved from shortstop to second base. I feel like I can be more effective there [at short]. But there are things I can work on, like getting better jumps on balls," Theriot told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I've never been around somebody who pays as much attention to detail as Jose does. He sees everything ... everything."
Barney taking batting tips from Byrd: Darwin Barney has changed his swing a bit, thanks in part to his relationship with Cubs teammate Marlon Byrd.
"When my dad saw me, he said, 'You look like a miniature Marlon Byrd up there,'" Barney told MLB.com. "That's not a bad thing. I've been putting in a lot of work, and I'm really trying to get better, and I think I still have a lot of room to get better. Where my place is on this team, I don't know. I'll try to put good at-bats together."
Atkins targeting roster spot with Pirates: Garrett Atkins says he feels good about what he's done this spring as he tries to latch on with the Pirates.
"Obviously, I've had some good years, and you just try to come in and show that you still have that ability and that talent," Atkins told MLB.com. "If you're putting together quality at-bats and doing what the at-bat dictates, the hits don't really matter. If you take good at-bats, the coaches see that and the decision-makers see that. The results are important, but more important is putting together quality at-bats every day."
Worth favors action at second base: Danny Worth says he would prefer to play second base instead of shortstop for the Tigers.
"It's more fun at second," Worth told MLB.com. "It's fun when the ball's coming in and you have to get rid of it because the runner's coming at you. There's a lot more going on. At shortstop, you get the ball and you're already turned, and you can lower your arm and protect yourself. Second base, it's your blind spot. You don't know whether he's coming spikes up or not."
Balester staying in the bullpen race: A former starter, Collin Balester is having a fine spring out of the bullpen for the Nationals.
"He has pitched well," manager Jim Riggleman told the The Washington Post. "He certainly has not pitched himself off the club, that's for sure. Bally's fighting a numbers game a little bit. But he's making a case for himself."
Belt takes some ribbing from Huff: Aubrey Huff has taken Brandon Belt under his wing and constantly teases his younger Giants' teammate. Belt takes it all in stride.
"Big guy, good stance, he stays inside the ball, goes the other way, has some power -- he reminds me of me when I came up," Huff told the San Jose Mercury News of Belt. "Except a little shyer, maybe."
"Watching [Buster] Posey last year, he was as impressive as any young player I've been around," Huff said. "Belt has a great approach, but you still have to produce at the big league level. Some guys can't make that jump, but I don't see that happening with him. He's humble, and he's got a good head on his shoulders. If he makes the team, he'll be the starting first baseman for the defending champions. That's a lot of pressure right there, but I think he can handle it."
Stronger Barton to be relied on at the plate: The A's once again have plans to see Daric Barton on base often.
"He's going to be our most disciplined hitter and probably our highest on-base percentage guy," A's manager Bob Geren told the San Jose Mercury News. "He's gotten stronger this year, and I think he's going to have a few more extra-base hits."
-- Red Line Editorial