Zito self-critical despite improvement in second start

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Zito self-critical despite improvement in second start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Barry Zito worked three scorelessinnings in his second start of the spring Saturday against the Brewers.In his first action since giving up two runs on four hits in two inningsagainst the Dodgers on Tuesday, the Giants high-priced lefty was perfect otherthan hitting a batter and allowing one infield single. He threw 30 of his 45pitches for strikes.The batter he hit was none other than San Francisco native Nyjer Morgan, whodrew the ire of Giants fans last season by making some mildly obscene gesturesaimed at the AT&T Park bleachers.Morgan, the second batter of the afternoon, took a Zito curveball to the headand stayed in the game as a baserunner before being pulled as a precaution inthe bottom of the 1st inning.

It was a curveball so I mean sometimes you just throwthrough it, Zito said.The only other blemish on Zitos pitching line was an infield single by MatGamel.I actually felt like my timing was better Tuesday just as far as the ballbeing down and pouring strikes in the zone, Zito said. Results were a littlebetter today, but its not really about that for me, its about lining up thepitch and having everything be on time.With no radar available at Scottsdale Stadium and the scouts guns out ofeyesight, its difficult to pinpoint how hard Zito was throwing, but he was inthe strike zone and kept the Brewers lineup off balance using all of hispitches.Despite a solid spring pitching line on Saturday, Zito was self-critical in hispostgame comments.I felt like I couldve been better being down in the zone with the fastball,he said. If you look at strike ratio and how many balls were down in the zone,today was not as good as last game. But there were other positives today.One such positive for Zito was the ability to work on his windup.Right now when Im in the windup its just trying to getthat timing down, he said. I didnt throw out of the windup a lot thisoffseason, so Im just working on making some adjustments. I got to throw outof the windup a lot more today, which is good.
Bruce Bochy had no issue with the outing when told that Zito himself said he wasn't as sharp.He may not have felt as good, but he did anice job," Bochy said. One breaking ball got away from him, but overall I thought he threwstrikes and did a nice job. Now the starters will go back to their normal rest and wellstart stretching these guys out.
With a split squad game against the Cubs, the Brewerslineup wasnt filled with a lot of star power on Saturday. Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez playedin Milwaukees other game and Ryan Braun didnt see action at all.The only projected Brewer starters in the lineup against Zito were CarlosGomez, Morgan and Gamel. Brooks Conrad, who Giants fans may remember as theAtlanta second baseman that made three errors in Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS, hit third for the Brewers.The Giants pitchers were not blessed with immense run support in 2011, andZito was no exception. But Saturday in Scottsdale, the Giants teed off on theBrewers early on and gave Zito a 2-0 cushion in the second, andexpanded the lead to 10-0 an inning later. Yeah, that was great, Zito said of watching his offensebat around and put double digits on the board for him.Zito wasnt very talkative at his locker after the outing,providing reporters with the modern athletes most dependable cliche.I take it one day at a time, he said. Thats one thing Im not going to dois get too far ahead of myself. Just come back tomorrow and keep on working onwhat I got to do and just take that approach.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

As the Winter Meetings get set to begin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the Giants still haven't crossed off the top item on their offseason wish list.

The closer role remains vacant.

Names like Mark Melancon and Greg Holland have been linked to the Giants over the last few weeks, but nothing has materialized.

On Friday, GM Bobby Evans provided an update while speaking with ESPN's Buster Olney.

"There's been a lot of signings and a number of trades. In many ways, more done prior to the winter meetings than in the last couple of years. We still are in process, relative to trade options, relative to free agent options, to be clear who's pitching the ninth inning for us. So we feel we have the makings of a good bullpen, we just need to be clear who's pitching the ninth. And we'd like to solidify that through the trade market or free agent market. It's progressing. We're a month into this process, so we have a lot more information. But ultimately, until we have a closer, we're still in the search mode.

There's a nice balance between both. It's just that, they both have costs. Relative to a trade, sometimes you're giving up, in some cases, one or more of your top prospects and other prospects below that. In the way of free agency, it's obviously an expenditure for a certain number of years that is elavated more on the supply and demand side. That said, there are some middle tier late inning options as well that may not be as demanding as some of the bigger names. Again, it's a balance of options trying to measure all three."