LAKELAND, Fla. Pitchers threw live batting practice to hitters on Saturday for the first time in training camp. It was a chance for batters to begin tracking balls and getting their timing down for Fridays Grapefruit League opener with the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista. It was also an opportunity for pitchers to throw to something other than a catchers mitt.
One pitcher, Jose Ortega, 24, caught Tigers manager Jim Leylands attention.
Its always different when they pull the cage back and the other team shows up, Leyland said. But I wouldnt have wanted to hit against Ortega today. Hes got nasty stuff.
The compliment was relayed to Ortega, a Venezuelan who had a 3.38 ERA in two games pitched last year for Detroit. He was 5-8 with a 5.74 ERA for Toledo, where control issues (51 walks) off-set his 68 strikeouts in 62 23 innings.
Im glad, Ortega said. It felt good today.
Leyland isnt moving Ortega into the bullpen just yet, but the performance did become one of those mental note...