Zito trying to shatter expectations

February 29, 2012, 12:14 am
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Broken bats? Swings and misses? WasBarry Zito really the cause of all that?Intrasquad batting practice is a long way from facing MattKemp, Troy Tulowitzki or Justin Upton. But for what it was worth, Zito lookedsharp during his session Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium.Pablo Sandoval swung through the first pitch. MelkyCabreras bat shattered in his hands. Zito allowed only one hard-hit ball asolid connection by Sandoval that probably wouldve split the outfielders inright-center field.Giants manager Bruce Bochy was on the back field and didn't see Zitossession with catcher Buster Posey. But the manager came away impressed after hesaw the left-hander throw to hitters on Sunday.

Zito is using a refined delivery that is most noticeably differentfrom the stretch, where his front leg is bent and his weight is shiftedforward. Hes trying to throw with more momentum and extension, allowing him toget extra finish on his pitches.Its about having late life, Zito said earlier thisspring.Its getting late in Zitos tenure with the Giants, too.Entering year six of his seven-year, 126 million contract, the 33-year-old might bepitching with the lowest amount of pressure and expectations in black andorange. The Giants are counting on him to be their No. 5 starter, post five orsix innings and keep games reasonably close.Above all, they need Zito to be a strike thrower somethinghe has struggled to do in the entirety of his Giants career.If some of those strikes break bats, all the better.

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