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Pavano progressing

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Marlins notes: Pavano progressing

Pitcher masterful in four shutout innings Sunday

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com Ticket information



Carl Pavano threw four shutout innings against the Orioles on Sunday. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)




JUPITER, Fla. -- From the day Jack McKeon took over as Marlins manager last May, he preached to his starting pitchers that they needed to become better students of the game.

That meant studying hitters along with working on their own mechanics.


"That's a huge key that he kept pushing us was the repetition," right-hander Carl Pavano said. "It takes a little while. A lot of things go on between these ears."


Pavano's continued progress was evident Sunday in a 6-1 win over the Orioles at Roger Dean Stadium.


The projected fourth starter became the first Marlin to work four innings in a Grapefruit League game.


Pavano was masterful against the Orioles, not allowing a run while giving up one single to Javy Lopez with two outs in the fourth. He struck out two and retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced.


"It's all business with these guys," McKeon said. "I'm proud of them and the way they go about their business."


McKeon has all the starters watch from the dugout the first five innings of spring games against National League opponents. Even though the Orioles are in the American League, Josh Beckett hung around to monitor Pavano's first performance.


Pavano, who threw 47 pitches with 31 strikes, was slated to throw three innings. But the way he was breezing, 32 pitches through three innings, McKeon kept him out there for another frame.


"I'm definitely happy," he said. "I threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, getting ahead of hitters."


Bob Watson visit: Major League Baseball's vice president of on-field operations Bob Watson spoke to the Marlins on Sunday morning about time-of-game procedures, uniform regulations, body armor, QuesTec, bean balls and umpire evaluations.


Making the rounds through Spring Training camps, Watson addressed some key issues concerning the Marlins.


With a hard-throwing, young pitching staff, the Marlins are wanting to make sure they can pitch inside without the fear of warnings.


"We're not saying you can't pitch inside," Watson said. "If you can't pitch inside, you don't win. But you can't throw at somebody indiscriminately. I know retaliation is part of the game and all that. If you are determined to continue to throw at somebody, especially after a warning, the consequences are what I told them this morning, automatic suspension and substantial fine."


The Marlins are among the more active teams in terms of warnings. There has been some past history with the Phillies and Expos. Last year, Montreal's Hector Almonte broke a bone in Mike Lowell's hand with a fastball.


Watson said the league has a heads-up program to keep umpires informed of potential problems. Last spring, Brad Penny grazed then Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero with a fastball, prompting a fight.


Watson says pitching inside might be part of the game, but the league will crack down on violence.


"They say, 'Oh, that's part of the game.' That's been a part of game," Watson said of hit batters. "What happens afterward hasn't been part of the game. And that won't be tolerated. That's the fighting.


"If you don't throw it inside on me, I'm going to wear you out. Their complaint is umpires aren't consistent on if they give a warning. If they said, 'I hit a batter with a curveball, and they threw me out.' Well, that's not what the rule says. ... I told the hitters, too. They have to get out of the way."


Easley in the outfield?: Spring Training is a chance to experiment, and McKeon is wasting no time trying players out at different positions.


On Saturday, backup second baseman Damion Easley was tested in left field late in the game. Easley was back at second base on Sunday, and belted a two-run homer.


"Whatever it takes to put my name on the list," Easley said of playing infield or outfield. "If that's the way to get a couple of at-bats, so be it."


McKeon says he has taken good athletes who can run in the past and put them in the outfield. Versatile players give the manager more flexibility for double-switches.


In the 1960s, McKeon moved Cesar Tovar from the infield to the outfield.


Intrasquad game set: The Marlins will play their second intrasquad game at 10 a.m. ET Monday on the back fields in Jupiter. Pitchers who will see work in the scrimmage will be Ronald Belisario, Cedrick Bowers, Nelson Cruz, Delvin James, Trevor Hutchinson, David Manning and Marty McLeary.


Monday's schedule: Beckett makes his second spring start on Monday when the Marlins meet the Expos in Jupiter, Fla. Sunny Kim is slated to start for Montreal. Beckett is scheduled to throw 55-65 pitches. Also throwing for Florida will be Armando Benitez, who will see his first game action of the spring, Tommy Phelps, Franklyn Gracesqui, Aaron Small and Blaine Neal.


Walkup crowd: Sunday's crowd of 6,398 featured a walkup of more than 1,800 fans. The stadium was prepared for a walkup of about 1,000.



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Well, I feel that only a healthy Beckett should be ahead of him at this time. And that's in no way a slap at Willis and Brad.



Beckett is #1. Willis will likely be #3 to split up the lefties. That leaves either 2 or 4.....so you pick 'em whether Penny or Pavano gets the nod for 2nd.


I see it as very close. But would go with Pavano to change speeds a bit after the hard throwing Beckett.

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