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Zito says it's time to get serious

Zito says it's time to get serious

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One last time, Barry Zito could shrug off his inelegant pitching line as a reflection of Spring Training growing pains.

After Saturday, he's swearing off this kind of rationalizing.

Zito allowed seven runs and seven hits as the Giants defeated Seattle, 14-8, in a split-squad game. His ERA dwindled slightly, from 17.18 to 14.92, but he walked four and hasn't struck out any of the 67 batters he has faced in the Cactus League. He has allowed seven runs or more in three of his four outings.

Yet Zito's performance included some redeeming factors. The Opening Day starter became the first Giant to work into the sixth inning, lasting 5 1/3. He recovered nicely after yielding Kenji Johjima's first-inning grand slam, allowing two singles over the next three innings.

Zito intends to treat his final two exhibition starts more like the real thing as he prepares for the March 31 opener at Los Angeles.

"We're definitely going to start worrying more about pitch selection, working hitters and worry less about just getting our work in," he said. "You approach it more like a real start."

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Against the Mariners, Zito continued to gain familiarity with his altered pitching motion, in which he no longer brings his hands over his head from the windup.

"My timing was off in the first inning, but after that I felt pretty good," the left-hander said after throwing 46 strikes in 80 pitches.

Manager Bruce Bochy agreed with Zito's assessment. "His tempo was a little quick in the first inning, but it seemed like he got in a little groove as he went," Bochy said.

Zito nearly escaped the first inning unscathed, but with two outs, Johjima lofted a 2-0 fastball over the left-field barrier.

"Everyone in the park knows a heater's coming," Zito said. "In retrospect, don't go 2-0."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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