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Matt Garza Stellar; Percival & Isringhausen Make Appearances

Matt Garza's second start of the spring was much better than the first. Unlike his first start where he allowed three runs off of three hits, Garza limited his damage to a single by Brian Bixler and two hits to Jose Tabata. Tabata also made an outfield assist nailing Carl Crawford at the plate. Overall, Garza worked four innings giving up zero runs on those three hits and a walk Garza mentioned after his first start it's all about the process, and now we are seeing the good results of those processes.

Six up, six down; this is how Troy Percival's spring had gone. Percy worked another smooth inning today and registered his first K of the spring. We've said all along a healthy Percival is fine with us and so far so good. The same can't be said for Jason Isringhausen, who have up a run on a sac fly after an Andrew McCutchen triple. However, Isringhausen finished up on a good note inducing a groundball and finishing his 17 pitch inning with a swinging strikeout.

Grant Balfour made his second appearance (third overall) since taking a line drive off the arm. Balfour started the inning by striking out Tabata, but then proceeded to load the bases on three base hits. He escaped the jam unharmed after telling  Bixler to STFD. There could be a few very simple reasons for his early struggles so far this spring. First, he took a liner off the arm and second, he's working on throwing more bendy pitches.

A few weeks ago,  I wrote a "web site column" on Grant Balfour and his pitch usage. After speculating that the Rays might want him to throw his breaking ball a little more, I found this note on Friday.

Maddon said the hard-throwing Balfour was using the spring game to work on his breaking pitches, "something we've been trying to get him to do," and that he was narrowly missing with some of them.                                            Tribune

Not to push the panic button or anything, but Joe Nelson isn't having a good spring. Nelson lasted just two-thirds of an inning giving up four earned runs on three hits including two home runs. One of the home runs was a pinch-hit three run shot by Pirates top prosect, Pedro Alvarez. Nelson has given up four home runs in just three innings so far. For everyones sake lets hope that "he's working on something."

Other notes...don't look now, but Reid Brignac is staring to find his stroke at the plate. Gabe Kapler got the start in centerfield and knocked in his forth RBI of the spring. Tim Beckham had a two RBI hit.