Haren keeps changing to stay ahead
Right-hander has reinvented himself again in Anaheim
Dan Haren has pitched for four teams, seven managers and five pitching coaches in his eight-year career in the big leagues. Along the way, he's had to take on new looks.
"I'm a completely different pitcher than I was in Oakland," Haren told the Los Angeles Times. "When I was over there, I threw much harder. I didn't throw a cut fastball. Now I've kind of reinvented myself. You can't just go out there and throw up the same stuff every year. Everyone has to adjust along the way."
"He's evolved," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's evolved into more of a pitcher. Back then, he relied more on just dynamic stuff. Mentally, he's as tough as any pitcher I've seen."
John Baker gets first start since surgery: After missing most of the 2010 season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, John Baker has progressed to the point where he can swing the bat without pain. But he is still unable to play catcher. On Friday, he made his first start since the surgery, serving as Florida's designated hitter.
"I probably wouldn't have slept last night if they told me I was going to start the game," Baker told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I think [manager] Edwin [Rodriguez] used his baseball player whisperer skills and didn't say anything to me. I'm not getting that much sleep anyway, so it probably would have just kept me up all night."
"I was even happy when I struck out," Baker said. "I had butterflies during batting practice, anticipating getting out there and playing. I couldn't sit still all day. I felt like a little kid. That's why we play this game. It was nice to have that kind of moment."
Detwiler finds retooled delivery effective: Ross Detwiler has reworked his delivery and is hoping to win the job as the Nationals' fifth starter in Spring Training. He helped his chances by pitching three innings with five strikeouts against the Braves. He allowed just one unearned run.
"I remember a few times last year trying to throw an inside fastball and leaving it over the plate, and it's either a home run or it's in the gap or something," Detwiler told the The Washington Post about why he changed his delivery. "So, I think I'm really able to drive the ball inside now."
Brian Wilson's debut just like old times: In his first appearance of the spring, San Francisco's Brian Wilson retired the side on 10 pitches against the Mariners.
"We had all the confidence Willie was fine ... but with that said, it was good for the team and these fans to see him out there," manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. "He'll definitely get the crowd into it. He's got a lot of presence, and he sends a lot of confidence through the club all the time."
Wandy Rodriguez chalks up successful outing: Wandy Rodriguez looked sharp in his second Spring Training outing on Saturday. Of the 52 pitches he threw, 31 were for strikes.
"I threw a lot of strikes with all my pitches," Rodriguez told the Houston Chronicle. "I did the work you need and feel better."
"He was mixing his pitches real well," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I thought his curveball was exceptional, and he was really working his fastball down in the zone."
Blackburn finds plenty of reasons for optimism: It looks like Nick Blackburn has earned a spot in the Twins' rotation. It's been a healthy spring for Blackburn, who says he feels as good as he has in years.
"This is probably the best I've felt in the last several springs, with knees and everything included," Blackburn told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I'm finally getting out there to run a little bit. My legs feel stronger, which carries over to my delivery, too. My elbow feels great. I can't remember having as much freedom in my elbow as I've had."
Marcum showcases control: Shaun Marcum is known for his control. He lived up to that reputation this weekend when he threw three scoreless innings against the Angels. Marcum allowed only two hits and struck out three.
"You hear it [beforehand], but today you saw it," Brewers teammate Craig Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "You saw why he's so good. When he misses, he just misses. It tempts the hitters. That was fun to watch."
Chris Young continues to impress: Chris Young had another solid outing for the Mets, allowing one unearned run in three innings on Friday against the Marlins. In five innings of work, Young has a 0.00 ERA.
"Right now, the life on the ball feels better than it did at the same point last year and maybe the year before, and I'm excited about that," Young, who made just 18 starts (including four last season) for the Padres over the previous two years due to shoulder injuries, told the New York Daily News. "Mechanically, I'm farther ahead right now than I've been the last couple of years. I can see the differences, and part of that is the life on the fastball.
"But I'm not satisfied with it. I still think there's a lot of room for improvement, and the ceiling's still a lot higher than even where I am right now."
Adrian Gonzalez is making strides: Adrian Gonzalez took batting practice on the field this weekend for the first time since reporting to Red Sox training camp. He took 25 swings and hit three home runs over the right-field fence on his last five swings.
Gonzalez will continue to take a slow and steady approach to his rehab from shoulder surgery. There is no target date for him to get into an exhibition game, but he could be playing by the end of the week.
"I remind myself every day," Gonzalez told the Boston Herald of his deliberate pace to be ready by Opening Day. "We're not going too fast. We're taking it pretty slow. If I was going too fast, I'd be playing right now.
"My shoulder is responding pretty good. We're just taking it one day at a time."
Wood picked up tips from Rivera: Kerry Wood is thrilled to be back in Chicago, but he learned a lot from Mariano Rivera last year as a member of the Yankees.
"I'm a guy who gets out there and gets adrenaline going, and I've been a power pitcher my whole career, and I want to throw it harder, and I can't get the ball out of my hand fast enough," Wood told MLB.com. "Watching him get ready in Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox and it's a tie game, he's acting like it's a Spring Training game. It kicks in when you go on the field, but the preparation when you go in the game has to be the same as it is in Spring Training."
J.D. Martinez gets first game action: J.D. Martinez finally was able to get into a spring game for the Astros on Saturday after being slowed by a strained quadriceps. The outfielder hit .341 with 18 home runs last season while splitting time at Lexington (A) and Corpus Christi (AA). Since being drafted in the 20th round in 2009, he has a .343 career batting average.
"You look at his numbers, what he's been able to do in the Minor Leagues," manager Brad Mills told the Houston Chronicle. "Then you ask people, and they talk about how he drives the ball and how he swings the bat. They reiterate what the numbers say."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.