Bonus Thursday coverage

Here’s a few more notes from Thursday…

— Stephen Drew said his abdominal strain was feeling better and he was out on the field during batting practice. He was scheduled to see Dr. Michael Lee later in the day so I’ll probably have an update for you on Friday.

— Conor Jackson’s left elbow was fine one day after getting plunked there by a Vincente Padilla fastball. Jackson wasn’t in the lineup, but that was a scheduled off day and manager Bob Melvin said he could easily have played.

— Brandon Webb picked a good time to have his best outing of the spring as it should give him some momentum heading into the season.

As you may have read in my story about his outing Webb used a “BP” fastball so named because it’s not thrown with max velocity like a typical fastball and comes in at more the speed of a batting practice pitch. The key is the batter has to be expecting a pitchers regular fastball so he is out front of the BP one and rolls it over for an easy groundout.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make is about how incredibly talented and gifted Webb is when it comes to picking up new pitches. A few years ago he started throwing that fastball that starts inside to a left-handed hitter — so much so it looks like it’s going to hit his hip — and then tails back over the inside corner for a called strike.

When I asked him how he developed the pitch he said he saw Greg Maddux throw it one day while watching television and thought it would be a good pitch so he just went out and threw it.

Back to the BP fastball. In his start prior to this one, Webb was on the bench talking with pitching coach Bryan Price about how maybe a BP fastball would be a good thing for him to work on so he could throw it in fastball counts when a hitter is sitting on the heater.

Webb went out for his next inning and threw a few good BP fastballs much to the surprise of Price.

“We were supposed to work on that in the bullpen not an
inning after we were talking about it,” Price told him when he finished the inning .

Just so long as no one suggests throwing a knuckler, he should be good to go on Opening Day.

— Reliever Tony Pena gave up four runs on five hits in two innings on Wednesday night against the Rangers, but Melvin praised the performance on Thursday pointing out that Pena did toss a scoreless first inning before giving up a grand slam the following one when he tried to throw back to back sliders to lefty Chris Davis.

“I saw a phenomenal first inning,” Melvin said. “Really good slider. The
second inning maybe just pitch selection more than anything else. The numbers
don’t suggest how he pitched. I was pleased with how he threw the ball

— Travis Blackley pitched his way back into the competition for the final three spots in the bullpen with a scoreless inning on Thursday.

No one has asked me (and they most certainly will not) but if I had to pick those final three spots right now they would go to Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner and Doug Slaten.

Buckner had another solid outing on Thursday and has really only had one poor one this spring.

“Buckner’s really pitched as well as anybody,” Melvin said.

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