EXTRAS: Zito getting up to speed?

March 7, 2012, 1:43 am
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GLENDALE, Ariz. Barry Zito will never inspire widespreadconfidence with Giants fans. Thats just the way it is.So when he said his fastball felt harder than the 81-83 mphthat showed up on scouts radar guns Tuesday, the scoffs could be audible atCamelback Ranch all the way from the Bay Area.But Zitos first exhibition start was exactly what BruceBochy wanted. He threw 28 of 35 pitches for strikes. He worked efficiently intothe third inning. He got ahead in the count and pitched to contact.Thats what a No. 5 starter is supposed to do.RECAP: Cabrera blasts two, leads Giants past Dodgers
Barry did great, Bochy said. Terrific job. He should feelgood about that outing. Its a little out of sync in the windup. Thats why welet him go back out there to start the third inning. But overall, great job.Zito allowed a home run to Andre Ethier but otherwise had aproductive outing. He even struck out Dodgers All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp onthree pitches, then did the same to cleanup man Juan Rivera.Fastball up and in, catcher Eli Whiteside said. Thatswhat hes got to do: Be around the zone and mix it up. Be more aggressive inthe zone early.Before he could be told of the gun readings, Whitesidevolunteered that Zito appeared to have good velocity. The catcher agreed withZito that the ball was popping a little harder than 81-83 mph.Zito appeared confused when told the readouts by reporters, saying he wasthrowing 86-88 mph while throwing to hitters in January.Huh. Thats strange, he said. It felt like it was comingout good, like it had good life.Not to suggest a conspiracy theory, but its possible thatthe multiple readings were off. The scouts section is not directly behind theplate at Camelback Ranch, as it is at most ballparks. In the ninth inning, thescouts gunned hard-throwing prospect Heath Hembree at just 91-93 mph; hesknown to throw near triple digits.Whatever the true velocity was, Zitos game is more aboutlate movement, deception and location. He has worked to get all his pitches tocome out of the same tunnel and felt the swings on his curveball indicatedthe hitters werent picking it up.Throwing inside remains a key, too.I knew he was anxious to get out there, Bochy said.Zito is in a much different place and time than 2008, whenhe had a 14.92 ERA heading into his final two spring training starts. He faced72 batters before he registered a strikeout. This time, it took just three -- and the guy he whiffed probably should've been the NL MVP last season.
One other big difference: In 2008, Zito was the Giants opening-daystarter.No wonder Tim Lincecum is so popular.--Hembree wasnt lighting up the radar guns, either, but his91-93 mph fastball sure seemed harder based on some of the swings.Minor leaguer Lance Zawadzki threw his bat into the standsabove the Giants dugout. Two pitches later, he did it again.Both times, he asked the fan to return the bat.That second time, I didnt think hed get it back, Bochysaid.He did. And he got booed, too.--Joe Panik made a great impression in the Giants 8-4victory. He worked a tough at-bat after falling behind 0-2 and ended up hittinga triple, impressing Bochy with his wheels.Panik might not be in the big leagues anytime soon, buttheres never a bad time to make an impression on the big league skipper.--Freddy Sanchez took grounders again but got a day off fromthrowing. Sure looks like hell DH on Thursday. Hell be able to get at-bats inminor league camp when games begin soon, too.--Seems to be drier, dustier and sunnier here at CamelbackRanch than any other place in the Cactus League. The infield was totally dry bythe first inning.When Eli Whiteside slid into second base, he did his bestPigpen impression. I think the cloud of dust he kicked up is affecting weathersystems in New Mexico right about now. --In my story on Melky Cabrera, who homered from both sides ofthe plate, I mentioned the rarity of that feat. Its been done just three timesby a Giant in a regular-season game over the last 18 years. Randy Winn did ittwice in one season, and Ray Durham did it once.RELATED: Cabrera breaks out, homers from both sides of plate
Who pulled it off in 1993?If you knew Todd Benzingers name off the top of your head,congratulations. You've earned your share of Croix de Candlesticks, I'm sure.