Moyer working himself into shape

Moyer working himself into shape

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jamie Moyer estimated that he threw between 96 and 100 pitches in his third-to-last Spring Training start.

It just didn't feel like it.

"It felt like 200 as the game went on," the lefty said on a windy day at Progress Energy Park, where he took on the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. "It just seemed like the game [dragged] for some reason from like the third inning."

In that inning, Moyer surrendered singles to Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura, then walked Carl Crawford to load the bases with no outs. The veteran deftly escaped by striking out B.J. Upton and inducing an inning-ending double-play grounder from Cliff Floyd.

"I made some pitches when I had to, but I got behind in a couple counts and really struggled with my breaking ball early," Moyer said. "But it was nice to pitch and get out of a game knowing you can do it, I got some ground balls when I needed."

The 45-year-old Moyer finished by allowing three runs -- one earned -- on six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four. Moyer, as usual, wasn't pleased with his outing, but will hone his weapons in his next two outings.

"If you asked me how many pitches I have, I'd tell you four, but I probably have eight," he said. "I don't feel I'm to that point, and it's not necessarily with the pitches. It's location with pitches, and I'm not there yet. I might not be when I leave, but it would be nice to have the ability to go in a couple of different directions, so you don't become predictable."

Also in the game, Eric Bruntlett started in center field and threw out a runner at the plate in the sixth. Greg Dobbs, playing first base, committed a throwing error on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder in the sixth, leading to two runs.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.