FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With each appearance this spring, Evan Meek puts an injury-riddled 2011 season behind him and moves a step closer to regaining his coveted eighth-inning role.
The 2010 All-Star tossed a perfect inning in back of starter Charlie Morton on Sunday against the Twins, his third straight scoreless frame after opening the spring by allowing four earned runs on five hits over 1 2/3 laborious innings.
"He's moving it forward," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're not trying to look for any huge jumps, as long as there's progress being made. He feels good. [Catcher Mike] McKenry liked the movement on the ball to the left-handed hitters. We keep getting him out there and keep helping him build up arm strength."
Meek's velocity has been down from the mid-to-upper 90s he consistently hit during that 2010 season, but no one has been overly concerned about it. He's been heating it up incrementally and Hurdle is comfortable with where he is and where he's headed.
"I think he's in a good place," Hurdle said. "We encourage him to just let it go, not to grunt and snort and slobber to get it going, but just to get out there and give himself a good effort. I think with what he went through last year, I think he's understanding of that. He needs to challenge himself, to find out where the velocity is going to go. We're not looking for 97 tomorrow, but I think it's been firming up."