MESA, Ariz. – Jeremy Affeldt made his first appearance in game conditions this spring, throwing 13 strikes, seven balls – and just one scud.
“I had to get a walk in there,” he said, “so I could have a standard inning.”
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It had to be an encouraging inning for GM Brian Sabean and most of his cabinet, which watched from the stands at Cubs Park as Affeldt faced Cubs minor leaguers in a Monday morning B game.
Affeldt threw several sharp, well-located curveballs while walking one and striking out one in his scoreless innings. The Cubs didn’t hit a ball out of the infield. His last pitch was a curve that struck out Kris Bryant, one of the top hitting prospects in the minor leagues.
He called his command “scary good” for his first outing of the spring. He took some grief from bullpen catcher Bill Hayes for the fastball he skipped in the dirt, though. It wouldn’t be an Affeldt inning without at least one scud.
So far this spring, Affeldt hasn’t gone full speed in fielding drill to test his surgically repaired groin. But on the mound, he looked like the pitcher who dominated for a 1.73 ERA in 74 appearances in 2009 – his first year as a Giant.
Little surprise, then, that Affeldt said he hasn’t felt this good since then.
“I’m behind the ball a lot better,” he said. “(In recent years) I had to alter my mechanics to make the ball do what I wanted to do. I had some success, yeah, but that’s not the way you want to do it.”
Affeldt planned to push a little harder in extra fielding drills later Monday. He broke off the mound toward first base once in his inning, but Angel Villalona took it to the bag himself.