Adenhart continues to open eyes

Adenhart continues to open eyes

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Trying to make it as difficult as possible for the Angels to go into the season without him, Nick Adenhart certainly left an impression on the Giants on Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

With six shutout innings of three-hit ball in an 8-1 victory, Adenhart struck out six hitters while walking two. He also struck another blow in his bid for a spot in manager Mike Scioscia's season-opening rotation.

"That kid looked good," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He really showed us something."

Adenhart, 21, showed his resourcefulness in working out of jams in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Putting his curveball and changeup in good locations behind his explosive fastball, he struck out several quality hitters, including leadoff man Dave Roberts (twice), Aaron Rowand and Rich Aurilia.

It was a 3-2 fastball that set Roberts down swinging to open the game, and the veteran outfielder looked at a curveball to finish the third inning.

Adenhart, a Williamsport, Md., native with two full seasons of Minor League experience behind him, initially had been ticketed for Triple-A Salt Lake.

But the loss of John Lackey (strained right triceps) for at least a month has created an opening in the rotation. Adenhart has emerged as a leading contender along with middle reliever/spot starter Dustin Moseley.

"You can see how his stuff plays when he gets it in the zone," Scioscia said of Adenhart. "He's not a finished product, but that's not to say he wouldn't be ready for the challenge."

Adenhart reduced his ERA in Cactus League play to 2.89. His 18 2/3 innings leave him one behind staff leader Ervin Santana, and he has walked only three hitters while striking out 13.

"My goals are different," Adenhart said. "You have ultimate goals, lifetime goals. You want to make the Major Leagues, the Hall of Fame. Short-term, I want to execute pitches, throw the breaking ball and changeup where I want."

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He said he came to camp with the mind-set that he was competing for a role on Scioscia's staff, even if it didn't seem as realistic early on as it does now.

"I'm a confident person," Adenhart said. "That was a goal of mine, to put pressure on them to make the decision difficult. I think I'm doing all I can.

"It'd be disappointing [not to make the Angels' pitching staff], but you're looking for the best interests of the team. I'd keep doing what they want at the Triple-A level."

Scioscia said the evaluations would continue for the balance of Spring Training. Adenhart appears to have one spring assignment remaining, on March 25 against the Diamondbacks in Tucson.

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