Some more clarity

With Travis Blackley no longer a candidate, the pitching staff is beginning to look a lot clearer.

There are four spots open in the bullpen, but it’s all but certain that Yusmeiro Petit and Juan Gutierrez are going to nab them.

Petit did not have a great first inning on Monday — he allowed four runs — but it appeared to be a mechanical issue. He was getting his hand under the ball, which caused his pitches to be up in the zone and he does not have the kind of velocity it takes to get away with that.

Once Petit made the adjustment the improvement was evident as he threw a couple of shutout innings.

If Gutierrez makes the team, and like I said it sure looks like he will, a big reason will be because he is out of Minor League options. The club loves his arm and 95 mph fastball.

As I speculated in the story, it sure looks like the other two spots will go to Doug Slaten and Billy Buckner.

The team would love to carry two lefties, which helps Slaten and he has pitched better of late.

“It’s good to see him pitching a little better especially when there’s some pressure on him,” manager Bob Melvin said.

Since changing his arm angle, Slaten’s performance has been much better.

Ryan Roberts helped his chances of making the team by showing he could go behind the plate and catch. He did it on Sunday in a Minor League game and in the seventh inning today against the Rockies he caught Slaten and then Gutierrez.

It was a successful debut, but one of the things he will need to work on is framing pitches and the way he catches breaking balls, but after watching him today Melvin said he considers him better than an emergency catcher i.e. someone you would only put behind the plate in a dire situation.

“Each and every time he goes out he’ll learn more,” Melvin said.



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