March 8, 2013 |
PHOENIX - Gunslingers don't smile, they scowl. Yet, there was Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett standing in front of his spring training locker, his face creased with a grin. Baseball's version of Billy the Kid had become a warm and fuzzy pacifist. "I think we all go through that transition at some point," said Beckett, once a cocky, hard-throwing intimidator but now a wizened, wily veteran. "When your stuff changes you have to react to it. There's nothing you can do. You have to make adjustments.
March 7, 2013 |
PEORIA, Ariz. — Ernesto Frieri came to spring training hoping to add an effective second pitch to go with the lively 95-mph fastball that thrust the 27-year-old right-hander into a closing role last season. He may leave Arizona with two new pitches. Frieri has been very happy with the development of his cut fastball, which is coming out of his hand like his fastball and breaking late. He has been pleasantly surprised by the effectiveness of his changeup, a pitch he started toying with in early February but has used in two of three exhibitions.
March 4, 2013 |
TEMPE, Ariz. - Hiroyuki Kobayashi has shown a decent split-fingered fastball, which he used to strike out two batters in Sunday's split-squad game against the Chicago Cubs. But he apparently didn't show enough of a fastball to stick with the Angels, who released the Japanese right-hander Monday morning. Manager Mike Scioscia said after Sunday's game that Kobayashi, who gave up a solo home run to Brad Nelson, would have to boost his fastball from the 86-mph range he's been throwing at this spring to 90 or 91 mph. The team obviously was not confident that the 34-year-old right-hander could do that.
February 20, 2013 |
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Kevin Jepsen lost 20 pounds before 2011 and had a miserable season, compiling a 1-2 record and a 7.62 earned-run average in two big league stints and suffering a right knee injury that led to season-ending surgery in July. The right-hander came to camp in 2012 focused on a new pitch, a two-seam fastball he thought would help keep hitters off balance. But he had a 10.29 ERA in his first nine games and was demoted to triple-A Salt Lake on June 4. Jepsen was recalled July 5 and had a 1.67 ERA in 40 games to finish with a 3-2 record and 3.02 ERA. So what's his plan going into this season?
October 21, 2012 |
SAN FRANCISCO -- In 2002, the Anaheim Angels unleashed “K-Rod” upon the playoffs. Francisco Rodriguez started the season in the minor leagues, dazzled in a September trial in the major leagues, and wreaked havoc upon postseason opponents as the Angels won the World Series. Ten years later, the St. Louis Cardinals present Trevor Rosenthal. He lacks the cool nickname, but he has a supersonic fastball. The Cardinals might not win the World Series, but to this point Rosenthal's statistics this fall are better than those Rodriguez put up a decade ago. Rosenthal has faced 22 batters this postseason, entering Game 6 of the National League Championship series.
October 20, 2012 |
ST. LOUIS - The Budweiser was flowing all over town. The champagne was on ice in the clubhouse. The St. Louis Cardinals were one victory from the World Series, and all that stood between them and a wild civic celebration was a pitcher a decade removed from his glory days. Barry William Zito could not reach back for a 94 mph-fastball. He is not equipped with those any more. But he could reach back into his memory for a double shot of confidence and precision, and that was good enough to breathe new life into the San Francisco Giants.