FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In his second game appearance of the spring, Joe Nathan needed far fewer pitches to get through a scoreless inning of work on Friday. But Nathan said that the greatest sign for him in this latest outing was the way he was able to pitch the final batter of the inning.
Nathan finished off his 1-2-3 fifth inning against the Rays by getting catcher Jose Lobaton to strike out swinging on a curveball. And he said that for the first time this spring, he felt like he was able to set up a batter and focus on what the hitter was thinking.
"The last hitter, especially, it really started feeling like my timing was getting better," Nathan said. "It's just getting a little more comfortable."
"That last batter, I almost concentrated on what he was doing and how he was reacting to certain pitches," the reliever added. "That's a good sign that I'm getting away from just thinking about what I was doing."
Nathan has been pleased with his command so far this spring, which is something that many pitchers often struggle to regain when they first come back from Tommy John surgery.
As for his arm, Nathan said that he experienced some normal soreness the day after pitching his last outing, which came on Tuesday vs. the Red Sox. Although he had two days of rest between game appearances, like other pitchers are doing at this point in spring, Nathan said he feels like he would be able to pitch on an every-other-day basis.
"We're still looking to be able to throw back to back," Nathan said of what he and the club are working toward this spring. "That's the goal."