Batista continues to fine-tune his game

Batista working on his delivery

PHOENIX -- There's no subjective scale in baseball that rewards players for degree of difficulty or technical elements, but that hasn't stopped Miguel Batista from challenging himself this spring.

In his first start, Batista decided to pitch through lower-back stiffness as a training exercise, and in his second outing Sunday, a mechanical hiccup left Batista "jumping a little bit" as he transferred his weight from one leg to another during his delivery.

"I was just a little too excited to throw the ball," the Mariners right-hander said.

Batista's control was rocky at times, as he walked three in a three-inning stint, but were it not for some well-placed balls, he could have escaped unscathed.

He allowed four hits and both runs in a 2-0 split-squad loss, but two of the Brewers' hits found the hole between third and short, and the other two against him were grounders that stayed just inside the third-base bag.

"All those ground balls, that's what you want," Batista said. The Brewers "all swing the bat like they want to hit the ball to another Zip code, and you take advantage of that."

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Batista wasn't the only Mariner to compete well against the Brewers. Jake Woods and Ryan Rowland-Smith both threw two scoreless innings and Eric O'Flaherty pitched one perfect inning.

"Everybody pitched good," acting manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's another encouraging sign."

Batista also allowed two runs in three innings his last time out, working the last two frames despite feeling a sharp pain on the left side of his lower back when he shifted his weight and landed on his stride foot.

"I said, 'OK, let me see if I can do this, because there might be a point in the season that you need to do that,' " Batista said. "There are times your team might want you to pitch, I won't say hurt, but wounded."

Sunday's game, Batista said, was geared "to make sure everything was fine."

He said everything felt good Sunday and that he felt better than he did a year ago at this time.

"Health-wise was fine," he said, "and that was my main concern."

Mark Thoma is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.