Cubs' Travis Wood looking to bounce back after down 2014
After earning an All-Star bid in 2013,
"You always learn more when you fail than when you succeed, and I learned a lot last year about how to go about when you fail, picking yourself back up and getting back after it," Wood said Thursday, per MLB.com. "That’s what we took into the offseason."
Wood is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation after he was not included in the quartet manager Joe Maddon initially named to the rotation.
"There is [a purpose] — the purpose is to not have a year like last year," Wood said. "I know I’m a good pitcher and just have to get back to the basics of attacking the zone and trusting your stuff."
Wood pitched two perfect innings in his spring debut Thursday, striking out two batters.
Cardinals' Carlos Martinez dominates in early start
Martinez tossed two perfect innings, striking out three batters in the process. The 23-year-old is considered a strong favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation, but must beat out Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales for the role.
Following the start, Martinez said throwing strikes was his main goal. "I tried to focus on every pitch and be on the zone," Martinez said. "That's basically my main focus right now, to concentrate on the strike zone. That's how I want to work until the end."
Martinez posted a 4.03 ERA over 89 1/3 innings last season.
Brewers' Garza: 'I had a new fire awaken in me this offseason'
"I think my world is settled, and it helps a lot," Garza said. "Last year I was still in a transitional period with taking care of the family, moving them around, and we made the decision to stay home [in California]. We bought a new place back home and set up shop, and now that huge world is in place. Everything else is fine. Financial security, job security. All I have to do is go play, and it's fun.
"I had a new fire awaken in me this offseason, which I haven't had in a while. The past couple years have kind of led me down that road. It's my fault, nobody else's. But things happen for a reason, and I think I found my reason."
Garza delivered his eighth straight season with an ERA under 4.00 in 2014, going 8-8 with a 3.64 ERA and 126:50 K:BB ratio in 163 1/3 innings.
Mariners' Jesus Montero: I'm 100 percent about first base
"I felt really good yesterday," Montero said Thursday morning, per MLB.com. "I've been working so hard for this. I've been thinking positive every single day. The work I'm putting in with [strength coach James Clifford] and all the guys in the gym has been awesome because you see the good results right away. Just being in shape, just being at this weight and feeling good, it's a change and it's fabulous.
"I feel so much better. Just running around the bases, feeling good, being in shape and moving and all that, it was fun."
Montero added he is fully dedicated to playing first base, and his improved agility was on notice Wednesday when he made a nice stretch at first to complete a nice defensive play by third baseman Carlos Rivero.
"Last year I was still thinking as a catcher," he said. "Now I'm 100 percent about first base. That's what they want me to do and I'm putting all my heart, all my honesty, all my love into first base and it's been coming good. When you're playing first, you want to do your best for your teammates in the infield and help make things easier for them and that's what I'm trying to do."
Mariners' Felix Hernandez pleased after live batting practice
Hernandez got through the session on Wednesday, and said he "looked pretty good." His goal for the session was simple, work on fastball command and make sure he could still throw all of his breaking pitches effectively. Hernandez said he wasn't sure what the next step was this spring. He may toss another live batting practice session, or he may take part in a long bullpen session.
The 28-year-old Hernandez posted a 2.14 ERA over 236 innings last year.
Pirates' Morton: 'No pain' after spring debut
"No pain, which is awesome," Morton said after the game, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "A little rusty, but I got weak contact and groundballs. Pleased by that. But I don't like walking people and falling behind."
Morton is expected to be ready to pitch out of the rotation at the start of the regular season.
Nationals happy with Werth's progress, could throw next week
"That normal soreness is there, which it should be," manager Matt Williams said.
Williams said Werth could begin a throwing program next week.
"Got to get through this portion of it first to make sure he's got no pain, multiple days," Williams said. "Then we'll progress into the throwing, because that's a completely different motion."
Tigers' Alfredo Simon flashes 'slow split' in spring debut
"That was a slow split," Simon said. "I use that in the game sometimes. ... I just want the hitter to train his eyes to see a slow pitch and after that I just come, like, with a hard two-seamer. It's going to be hard for him to hit the ball."
Simon struck out one in the appearance and let just one batter reach base, which came when he hit a batter with a pitch.
"I just feel really great," Simon said after his first outing with the Tigers. "I feel comfortable with my pitches and everything worked really good today."
Simon went 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA and 127:56 K:BB ratio in 196 1/3 innings with the Reds last season.
Rays' Karns focused on throwing changeup in spring debut
Karns tossed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one run. He led off the game with a strikeout of Alejandro De Aza.
"I mixed it up -- fastball, curveball, changeup," Karns said, per MLB.com. "There were a lot of lefties out there, so I really tried to work that changeup in there."
Rockies' Brandon Barnes looking to increase speed
Barnes is preparing as a player who is confident with his abilities, manager Walt Weiss said.
"He does feel like he belongs; we've had some good conversations already this spring," Weiss said. "I can sense that his confidence level is higher than he was a year ago. His attitude is infectious. He brings a lot of energy and toughness to our club that's very valuable. The other players feed off of it."
Barnes indicated that he's looking to be a smarter hitter this year and has turned to hitting coach Blake Doyle, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Corey Dickerson for advice.
The goal is finding a "rock-solid approach," Barnes said. "I have to buy into that."
Barnes hit .257/.293/.425 with eight home runs, 27 RBI and five stolen bases in his first season with the Rockies in 2014.
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