One year removed from Tommy John surgery, the Twins' Joe Nathan is continuing to work his way back to full strength as the spring progresses.
03/09/2011 4:03 PM ET
Nathan pleased with progress
Twins closer still on the mend from Tommy John surgery
"The command has really been a pleasant surprise to this point, and I can't ask for much more than what's gone on out there now as far as life on the ball, movement on the ball, sharpness and stuff," Nathan told MLB.com. "Just keep moving forward and keep trying to improve and build arm strength, and I'll be ready for April 1st. I'm happy, very happy with how things feel right now."
Lyles opening eyes with calm approach: Participating in his first big league camp, 20-year-old Jordan Lyles is showing that he can handle himself around seasoned veterans, impressing Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg.
"I'm expecting this guy to come out and try to light my eyes up as a Major League pitching coach," Arnsberg told the Houston Chronicle. "I was expecting him to be grunting and groaning, wailing and flailing."
Instead, Lyles just concentrates on what he has to do to improve and show why he has a chance to be in the Majors this season after being drafted with the 38th pick overall in 2008.
"I've always felt like if you can kind of make it look easier than it really is, that really helps," Lyles said. "I never try to put too much stress on my body. Sound like I've been there before and act like I've done it."
Lyles was named the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. This spring he has not allowed an earned run in five innings.
"He's got tremendous upside," Arnsberg said. "He's going to be a lot of fun to watch. With health, he's going to pitch a long time in the big leagues."
Gallardo's latest outing 'as good as it gets': Yovani Gallardo looked in midseason form in his outing against Cincinnati on Monday. The Milwaukee right-hander threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.
"That's as good as it gets," manager Ron Roenicke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "That was impressive. He had great stuff, great location. Everything he wanted to do, he was able to do."
Freese recovers from surgery on ankles: After having surgery on both ankles last season, David Freese made his first appearance since June with two hits and three RBIs.
"It felt good to get out there," the St. Louis third baseman told MLB.com. "To be honest, I could have gone 0-for-3 or 0-for-4, and I would have felt the same way. I feel good right now. I just have to keep progressing. The basepaths is what the key is. I just have to keep pushing myself, running around the bases."
Putz effective in spring debut: J.J. Putz made his spring debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday and got through the inning with relative ease. He threw a perfect inning, inducing three groundouts while hitting the low 90s with his fastball.
"I felt good," Putz told the The Arizona Republic. "We were able to get some efficient outs, get the ball on the ground and let the defense work. It was definitely nice to get the first one out of the way."
Burnett throws three perfect innings: A.J. Burnett threw three perfect innings against the Phillies in his second spring outing. Burnett worked with Russell Martin for the first time, and the catcher was impressed with what he saw from Burnett.
"He was really staying aggressive, getting ahead of guys with his fastball and then challenging them," Martin told the New York Daily News. "He was awesome. He had ace stuff today. It looks like he has even more if he wants it."
Isringhausen takes another step in comeback: Jason Isringhausen pitched a scoreless inning on Monday against Detroit as he continues his comeback bid with the New York Mets. Isringhausen, who last pitched for the Mets in 1997, pitched again on Tuesday.
"I might as well get it over with," Isringhausen told the New York Post of pitching on consecutive days. "That's been a big to-do about me, getting back-to-back days. ... And once I prove to myself I can do it, then I can get ready and do what I've got to do. And then if they want to take me to New York, I'll be ready."
Dominguez's bat now producing like his glove: Matt Dominguez is trying to win the third-base job for the Marlins this spring. The 21-year old is known as an excellent defensive player, but it's his bat that is opening eyes in early Grapefruit League play. He already has two home runs this spring, and he leads the team with 10 RBIs.
"I worked on a lot of mechanical stuff in the offseason, and it's allowed me to see pitches better, recognize curveballs sooner, and changeups, and I'm not jumping at the ball," Dominguez told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "So, I feel comfortable up there and I feel confident."
"He's so good out there defensively that we can live without [the offensive numbers]," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "The one thing that people don't realize is that, yeah, he might struggle a little, but his ceiling is so high. Eventually, he will become a better hitter."
Suppan making his case for bullpen spot: After playing in the Majors for 16 years, Jeff Suppan is trying to win a job this season with the Giants. A starter for most of his career, Suppan is in a battle for the final spot in the bullpen for the world champions.
"There's no great romantic tale," Suppan told the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm a baseball player. I want to play as long as I can. I love pitching, and I enjoy the competition."
"It's exciting, because the last year and a half, I was getting a lot less movement on my pitches," Suppan said. "Stuff kept cutting back to the middle of the plate. I just felt like I was getting short. Now I'm able to get that extension, get out in front of my pitches."
Percival gives Rodney rave reviews: Troy Percival is back in camp with the Angels. But Percival is not attempting a comeback. Instead, he is there to help the relievers. He watches bullpen sessions and makes suggestions to the hurlers. Percival thinks Fernando Rodney has what it takes to be an elite closer.
"He's got the experience. He's not afraid of anything. He may scare you once in a while, but I think you hand him the ball 50 times, he's going to get you 45 to 50 saves," Percival told the Los Angeles Times.
"Rodney has had some very good success, especially up in Detroit," Percival said of the 33-year-old right-hander, who saved 37 games for the Tigers in 2009. "And I think he'll do real well here. I don't look into Spring Training at all. Especially with a guy like that, who makes his living with a changeup that has a lot of bite."
Cahill in control with four shutout innings: The A's Trevor Cahill pitched four scoreless innings against the Padres on Tuesday. He did not allow a walk and permitted just one base hit.
"Even though you're working on things, you still want to do good," Cahill told the Oakland Tribune. "You want to get in that routine of having successful outings as soon as possible and carry that into the season."
"He's right where he needs to be at this point in the spring," said manager Bob Geren.
Franklin gets inspiration from doubters: Ryan Franklin was at one point considering retiring after the 2011 season, but those thoughts are no longer in his mind. Instead, he is excited about continuing he career as a closer in St. Louis.
"For sure, it has to do with the doubters. They think this guy is getting older, he doesn't have that closer stuff," Franklin told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The one thing I can say is that I'm definitely stronger mentally than I've ever been. This job does that. If I have a tough outing, my confidence doesn't drop.
"Once I get back out there," he asserted, "I know I belong."
Tillman welcomes competition for spot in rotation: Chris Tillman says he doesn't mind being in competition with Zach Britton for a spot in the Baltimore starting rotation. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity to improve his pitching.
"You see someone go out there and be good, which I want him to do good, but at the same time, I want to do better," Tillman told MLB.com. "I think I've talked about that the last two, three years, that friendly competition word. I think it's a great thing in baseball. I think it helps everybody."
Loe at home with new role in bullpen: Kameron Loe threw two scoreless innings on Monday against Cincinnati and hasn't given up a run and has allowed only one hit in four innings this spring.
Loe started last season in the starting rotation for Triple-A Nashville. When the Brewers called him up, they put him in the bullpen. In 53 appearances, he had a 2.78 ERA and allowed only 12 of 36 inherited runners to score.
"It was definitely a good change for me," Loe, who pitched in Japan the previous year, said about the move to the bullpen. "I had done it before [with Texas] in '05. I relieved most of the year and had success.
"The bullpen fits me, fits my personality. I'm a guy who can get up and go right away. I definitely like the adrenaline rush; I like the pressure situations in the game."
Jimenez throws three scoreless innings: After missing his previously scheduled spring start with an infected cuticle on his right thumb, Ubaldo Jimenez threw three scoreless innings Monday against the Dodgers, hitting 98 mph with his fastball at times.
"Ubaldo was Ubaldo today," Rockies manager Jim Tracy told the The Denver Post.
Jimenez was pleased with his outing as he was able to ramp up his fastball a little more after holding back a little during his spring debut.
"The first game, I just didn't want to throw hard, but today I wanted to let it go a little bit," Jimenez said. "I felt good. I didn't even think about my nail or my finger. I was just going to go out there and try to throw strikes."
-- Red Line Editorial