SARASOTA, Fla. -- Any way it's looked at, any baseball game played March 16 on Florida's west coast is a meaningless exercise, serving only to help players in regular-season preparation. If meaning is sought, however, look to Brett Myers' 70-pitch, seven-inning effort on a sticky, humid March afternoon as a shred of evidence. At the risk of overdramatizing, the Opening Day starter's performance -- one that helped the team to its third win in the previous 13 games -- has to have some merit to a scuffling team, regardless of month. Right?
"That's making too much out of it," said manager Charlie Manuel, through a hoarse voice caused by what he said was a cold, rather than shouting at his team. "We still have a long way to go. Myers pitched real good. I liked the way he commanded his pitches. He made good pitches and mixed them up." The right-hander, who has two more Grapefruit League outings before starting the season March 31 against Washington, said he used three pitches and will dust off a fourth in one of his next two outings. "You'll just have to find out [what the pitch is]," he said. "Whatever I concoct in my head; it could be a knuckle-slider-curve thing." Myers worked efficiently, getting early strikes and inducing hitters to put it in play. "I was just trying to throw it down the middle and let them pop it up, and they did that for me," Myers said, with a laugh. "All the credit goes to the hitters. They were swinging, and I was throwing strikes. That's what I wanted to do. It was hot out. I wasn't concentrating on throwing two strikes, I was locating [the fastball] well enough where they were hitting it at people." Despite the scratchy voice, Manuel seemed in slightly better spirits than the past two days, albeit not much better, after his team eked out a 6-2 win, though the team's Grapefruit League ledger remained 6-12-1. It's not about the wins as much as the approach, and Manuel would like to see better across-the-board results. Through 19 games, Jimmy Rollins is batting .158, Shane Victorino .231, Chase Utley .194, Jayson Werth .161 and Geoff Jenkins .136.
Myers doesn't share Manuel's frustration."If I thought too much, I'd be a mess," Myers said. "Seriously, I don't even know. I do my thing and go pitch, and try not to think." As for the offense, Myers said, "These guys are switch guys, man. The big show starts happening and these guys come to play. They're getting at-bats right now and they're working on things. It's something where they try working on stuff, and once they get into the season, it comes natural -- muscle memory, I guess." Considering Manuel's stance on the issue and his recent citing of a sign that hangs in his office that says, "Spring Training isn't like a light bulb that you can turn off and on," the manager begged to differ. "He can say what he wants," Manuel said. "I've been in this game 46 years. How many years has Myers been in? "You don't turn it on and off. If he thinks he can do that, please do and win us 20, 25 games. [Also], that means I'm going to have eight .300 hitters."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.