Castro bounced a few changeups – something that happens when he gets long and his plant leg touches down a touch further than normal. With his arm speed staying the same, his release point gets held back that extra tick and results in the ball coming out of his hand too late.
All in all, the right-hander looked impressive.
"Always finish with quality pitches," Lake Elsinore pitching coach Dave Rajsich said of his final five pitches. "Like the game is on the line. You don't get a second chance in the game so don't give yourself a second chance when you are here."
Albers has undergone two surgeries since appearing in five games with the AZL Padres in 2008. He has missed what equates to two years of action and is still on the road to recovery. It was a positive sign to see the left-hander back on the hill.
A former teammate of Sawyer Carroll, Albers posted a 7-4 record with a 2.40 ERA across 31 appearances for Kentucky during his final season, striking out more batters than innings pitched and limiting the opposition to a .226 batting average.
"Today felt pretty good," Albers said. "I faced hitters for the first time and the arm felt pretty good, really fresh and no pain. Hopefully, we can build on that and see how it feels tomorrow. That will be the telling sign. It has been stiff and a little sore afterwards. Today was a great step in the right direction – I am really pleased."
It is a tough assignment at this stage in camp with pitchers having to draw upon their focus levels to face guys they know well.
Some fared better than others at putting who they were facing out of their minds while others had to battle to remain competitive.
"It's tough to get up for these games," Double-A pitching coach Glenn Abbott said. "It is basically a fast-paced batting practice. The adrenaline level is just not the same."
"The guys rehabbing in Arizona – same thing," Eugene pitching coach Jimmy Jones said. "They are used to such high level of competition that sometimes it is tough for them to get juiced up."
Cory Luebke fell into the category of not being able to mentally focus. His pitches were not as crisp as the ones he showed in during big league spring training with his fastball riding high in the zone.
Sent down mere days ago, the southpaw went 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. He settled in during his last outing, pitching two scoreless innings.
Cumberland was timed at 1.42 seconds from second to third – a time that would make him nearly impossible to catch. He was in the bag by a wide margin before the throw.
"He has such good stuff," Abbott said. "He pitched well."
Bass appears to be in fine form this spring and his deceptive delivery continues to be a challenge for hitters. He throws low-90s but his fastballs plays much higher.
"Bass was really sharp," Rajsich said. "And then we give him a fourth out and he strikes that guy out. I would have left him in for six outs."
"That guy works incredibly hard at whatever he does," roving catching instructor Duffy Dyer said.
"He threw me a 3-2 fastball," Carroll said. "I knew with two outs that he wasn't going to try and walk me. I am still working on some things – it is still spring – but it was good to get a hit.
"I have been hitting a lot of balls hard – at people."
Carroll was, however, picked off on the very next play.
"We are trying to run more as an organization," he said. "I think they know we are running too, and it was a lefty. I went first move and worked on my jump – that is why we aren't keeping score in spring training."
Hernandez was relatively sharp, shutting down hitters with his plus changeup and fastball command.
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