TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brewers right-hander Claudio Vargas is a believer in the power of positive thinking and says he spent as much time exercising his brain over the winter as he worked out his arm.
"I am thinking only, 'Good,'" Vargas said. "I worked in the offseason on my mechanics and on my mind, too. That's one of the more important things for pitching. Be strong in your mind. I worked hard, and I'm happy because I've started this year good."
Vargas is 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in four Cactus League starts this spring and made his most recent outing Tuesday in a Minor League game. He allowed two runs on six hits in four innings against the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, striking out two and walking two.
Vargas threw 62 pitches. He pitched on short rest Tuesday so he could enjoy Wednesday's off-day along with the rest of the team.
Maybe he will spend the day with a good book. Vargas said he did a lot of reading over the winter, including at least one by Houston-based evangelist Joel Osteen. Vargas had seen Osteen's church on the bus ride from the team hotel to Minute Maid Park.
"You try to be strong no matter what happens," Vargas said. "Sometimes, I think, we think too much when we give up a home run or we walk somebody. We start thinking something negative. I tried to stop that.
"I feel good now in my mind," Vargas continued. "No matter what happens I will keep it there. I won't change anything."
Vargas is among the handful of pitchers vying for spots in the starting rotation behind Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan, who surrendered six runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Angels on Tuesday. Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter connected for home runs against Suppan, whose Cactus League ERA after four starts is 11.37.
Vargas is the only one of the competitors who is out of options, meaning it's likely he will be on the Opening Day roster unless the Brewers swing a trade.
Last season, his first in Milwaukee, Vargas was 11-6 with a 5.09 ERA. The Brewers were 16-7 when he started.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.