Keuchel dials up intensity in scrimmage

Southpaw faced numerous left-handed batters in off-day outing vs. Atlanta

Keuchel dials up intensity in scrimmage

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With only a handful of fans and scouts in the stands Wednesday morning at Osceola County Stadium, Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel turned his focus up a notch when he started a scrimmage against the Braves.

Keuchel, who pitched in the game because it was his day to work in the rotation, threw 47 pitches in three scoreless innings, allowing no hits and no walks while striking out three batters.

"I tried focusing on my intensity level and just focus overall," said Keuchel, who could start on Opening Day following his breakout season of a year ago. "I felt it was good step forward. I'm going to continue to build on that."

The Braves had a lineup stacked with lefties, which was an agreement between Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.

"That was good, with a different command and a different feel from righties," Keuchel said.

The one pitch Keuchel would like to refine is his backdoor slider to right-handers.

"With that being said, at this point in time, I feel great," Keuchel said. "And my body's never really felt this good in Spring Training, so I'm going to try to keep it going and put my best foot forward.

"I guess I'm just more comfortable with my role and getting my body ready for the first of April. So [I'm] doing a lot more stuff than I did years past, and I think that's gotten my body ready more as a whole."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.