Zito tosses three shutout innings
By RICK EYMER
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Barry Zito made believers out of a pair of former teammates as he tries to build on the success he rediscovered last season.
Zito pitched three shutout innings, Brandon Crawford had three hits and the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 on Sunday.
“I felt a lot better than I did the last time,” Zito said. “My focus was better, my timing was better and I was making more pitches.”
The left-hander gave up two hits and struck out two — ex-teammates Cody Ross and Eric Chavez.
“He threw well and was spotting the ball well,” Ross said. “He’s getting everything over for strikes. When I was there a couple of years ago he threw a lot of balls. It looks like he has confidence throwing strike one. That’s the main thing, he’s throwing strikes.”
Chavez, a left-handed hitter, noticed Zito’s breaking ball had more snap to it than the last time he faced him.
“He looks good,” Chavez said. “He has late movement that I don’t remember him having. It used to be more rolling and now he gets the late movement.”
Zito went 7-0 in his last 11 starts last year, and 9-0 over 14 starts including the postseason. The 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner recorded his first winning record in a Giants uniform, with his 15 victories the most since he won 16 games for Oakland in 2006.
“Last year I was tweaking my mechanics a little bit,” Zito said. “This year I am working on consistency with my delivery and getting my pitches working.”
John McDonald and Cliff Pennington each had two hits for the Diamondbacks, who have lost two in a row for the first time this spring. Adam Eaton, Willie Bloomquist and Jon Griffin drove in runs for Arizona.
Buster Posey drove in a run for the Giants. Francisco Peguero had two hits, including a double, and three RBIs.
Arizona starter Josh Collmenter gave up two runs and three hits in two innings.
After signing a $126 million, seven-year contract with the Giants before the 2007 season, Zito faced high expectations. He pitched at least 180 innings and made 32 starts or more in five of his first six years with San Francisco, but the results usually weren’t good until the second half of last season.
Chavez knows Zito can pitch. He was a teammate with the A’s when the zany lefty won 23 games in 2002. Chavez said Zito seems to be back on the right path.
“It’s good to see him like this,” Chavez said. “He had a couple of rough years but he still stuck through it. He’s been at the top and then he’s been at the bottom and now he’s back on top.”
Orioles 12, Phillies 3
SARASOTA, Fla. — A year ago, the Baltimore Orioles had no idea what they had in Miguel Gonzalez. This season, they’re depending on him to be a fixture in the rotation.
Gonzalez was signed as a minor league free agent after spring training began in 2012 and never appeared in big league camp. Less than two months into the season, though, the right-hander had pitched so well in the minors that the Orioles promoted him and he became their second-biggest winner.
Gonzalez pitched for the first time this spring on Sunday and threw two scoreless innings in Baltimore’s 12-3 victory over a split squad of Philadelphia Phillies. He entered camp confident he’d make the team, but not with a sense of entitlement.
“He’s not taking one pitch for granted,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “This guy, he’s not assuming anything. When you’ve been where he is, Miguel’s trying to make the club.”
Gonzalez hadn’t pitched in a major league spring training game since 2007.
“I tried to work on everything,” he said. “We try to get in there and try to get out (of) there as soon as possible.”
Chris Tillman started and pitched 2 2-3 innings for Baltimore. Gonzalez allowed just a walk and struck out two.
In his first start, Tillman struggled through 1 2-3 innings. Against Philadelphia, he allowed a wind-aided home run to Michael Young in the third.
Padres 4, White Sox 0
PEORIA, Ariz. — Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard will always be linked as the key pieces of a trade between the San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox.
The two pitchers faced off Sunday, their first starts of spring training.
Richard pitched two scoreless innings, leading the Padres to a 4-0 win over the White Sox. Peavy was hit hard, giving up three runs and five hits.
Peavy yielded RBI doubles to Chase Headley, Cameron Maybin and Nick Hundley. Despite the result, Peavy was happy with his performance. He focused on fastball command, throwing just two sliders as a strikeout pitch.
More importantly, Peavy no longer has any concerns about injuries, a recurring issue in recent springs.
“It’s not (even) in the back of my head,” Peavy said of his health. “You have no idea what the future holds — I may go out tomorrow and my elbow could blow up, that’s the risk we all take. But I think the numbers velocity-wise today proves that to a lot of guys around camp. I had a little bit more than I had at any point all of last year. That’s a nice sign for me and something to build on and you have to keep getting stronger.”
Peavy was surprised that the Padres were so aggressive, with nine of his 15 batters faced swinging at a first-pitch fastball. Being aggressive within the zone has become a point of emphasis with the Padres dating to last season, especially against top-flight pitchers.
“You can’t get behind on these pitchers, and you saw some willingness to go after the early fastball in the second half last year and our hitting coaches continue to preach that philosophy,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “I think that’s a good thing.”
In terms of the 2009 trade, Black thinks it came out relatively even. Richard has been healthy and consistent in recent years, and Peavy, the 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner, has had injury issues while being more dynamic when healthy.
Brewers 4, Cubs 3
MESA, Ariz. — Carlos Gomez homered and Taylor Green had two hits to help the Milwaukee Brewers beat a Chicago Cubs split squad 4-3 on Sunday.
Gomez and Green backed an impressive outing by Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada before he left to join Team Mexico for the World Baseball Classic. Estrada pitched four scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, walked two and struck out three.
Green singled home the second run of a two-run rally in the first inning against Cubs starter Edwin Jackson. Gomez’s homer leading off the third came against reliever Drew Carpenter.
Jackson had a rough outing. He gave up two runs and two hits in two innings. He also walked three, hit a batter with a pitch and made a throwing error on an attempted double play.
Yankees 5, Red Sox 2
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Opening day at Yankee Stadium figures to be a lot different than the first meeting of the season between New York and the Boston Red Sox.
With Brett Gardner the only regular in the Yankees’ starting lineup, New York beat Boston 5-2 Sunday in the first of their two spring training matchups.
Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster threw 25 of 28 pitches for strikes, allowing his only hit in three scoreless innings when Gardner reached on a single to shortstop starting the game. The rivalry is a new experience for Dempster, who signed a $26.5 million, two-year contract.
“It’s super-intriguing,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed it from afar, being a baseball fan. So I’m sure we’ll have lots of good games against each other. I know that that rivalry is different than pretty much any rivalry in baseball and one of the best rivalries in all of sports. So it probably makes for a little more excitement.”
Boston’s Mike Napoli, in just his second spring training game after being diagnosed with avascular necrosis during the offseason, homered off Adam Warren leading off the second.
New York took a 3-1 lead in the sixth off new Boston closer Joel Hanrahan, who allowed Eduardo Nunez’s run-scoring single and Jayson Nix’s RBI grounder. Another run scored on a fielding error by third baseman Drew Sutton.
“I thought he threw the ball very well,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Put the ball on the ground. A couple of plays extended the inning for him but otherwise that would have been a clean inning of work for him.”
Farrell also was impressed by Dempster.
“His command was outstanding,” he said. “Very good location throughout. He threw three pitches for strikes once again, and extremely efficient.”
Winner Jose Ramirez allowed three hits in three scoreless innings. Warren gave up one run and three hits in three innings.
“He did a really good job,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought his changeup was good, I thought his breaking ball was good, I thought he threw the ball great.”
With Curtis Granderson likely out until May while a broken left forearm heals, Girardi had Gardner in left and Melky Mesa in center. Girardi said the injury might cause him to keep Granderson in center when he returns rather than shift him to left and move the speedy Gardner to the middle.
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