One run and three hits in eight innings over eight appearances. Eight strikeouts. An 0.63 WHIP and an opponents’ batting average of .115. And the person least impressed by it is Hart.
“It’s been good. The results have been good,” he said.
“Obviously, some things I want to get better at. I think my last outing my fastball command wasn’t really that great.”
Hart got by without it, holding the Pirates scoreless on one hit and two strikeouts. He threw a bullpen session yesterday to “work on it.”
“Results can be fooling at times,” he said. “I haven’t gone out there and felt like everything was working in one outing. There’s been certain things that have been a little off in outings, but other than that, I feel good about them. They’re certainly not disappointing to me, but there’s obviously room for improvement there to get everything going all together, all three pitches, and then the command side of it, as well.”
Hart may pitch on back-to-back days this week to further prepare for the start of the regular season. He’s mostly had two days off between appearances this spring, though he most recently pitched on Wednesday and Friday.
“Not disappointed,” he repeated, “but room to improve.”
Results also are important for a rookie in his first major league camp, but Hart did enough in 22 appearances last summer to set himself up for an introduction on opening day.
“I’m not a fan of, ‘Well, I’m just working on stuff’ kind of deal,” he said. “When I step between the lines, I never want to use the excuse that I’m working on stuff. That’s a competitive atmosphere out there and you, as an athlete and a competitor, to me it never crosses my mind. I’m trying to get outs out there, so that’s the way I look at it. Results are going to matter.”
They count against left-handed hitters, who were 5-for-38 against him last season, and right-handers, who were 7-for-24.
Able to shed the specialist role in spring training, Hart has been exposed to his share of right-handed hitters. The only run off him this spring came on Jorge Polanco’s homer, but he’s allowed two hits to right-handers over 4 2/3 innings.
“I would certainly like to stop getting deeper into counts against those guys from that standpoint, but my fastball in has been getting there,” he said. “It’s getting better and better, the movement late in the zone in there is getting better. My changeup has been good so far against those guys and I’ve mixed in a few sliders against those guys, which was one of the things I wanted to work on.
“You tiptoe a fine line throwing pitches (and) you don’t know if they’ll work against those guys or not in a spring training game, but they’ve worked out so far. They paid off, so I’m happy with that so far.”