Through two outings, it still hasn't clicked for newcomer Garrett Richards.
After his first appearance in which he allowed two runs on three hits with two walks, Sunday didn't represent much in the way of improvement. Facing the Braves a second time, Richards was roughed up for four runs on three hits and four walks. He was scheduled to go three innings, but was lifted after two, having labored enough.
"I'm continuing to get my timing, synching up my upper and lower half. That's been kind of the issue so far,'' said Richards. "It's all mechanical stuff right now. In spring training, you're working on stuff and I'm just working through it. That's what spring training is so far, though, so let's get it all out now and start to sharpen the knife and hopefully we're clicking by the end.''
Richards attributes some of his problems to the injuries he's had in recent seasons, forcing him to constantly fine-tune his delivery.
"I'm just trying to get back to where I was before,'' he said. "I throw across my body; I kind of have a lot going on when I throw a baseball. So, I have two or three things that I have in my brain that are kind of checkpoints for my delivery, that I try to stay as consistent as possible. Right now, I'm doing it every once in a while, but I'm not doing it all the time. It's just about the reps, about getting the brain connected to the body. I'm just trying to get back on track, man. It's baseball.''
"He's just fighting his mechanics,'' said Alex Cora. "For me, with Garrett, it's about health. You see that the velocity was up there and his breaking ball was outstanding today. Some of them, it takes longer than others (to get right) and right now, he's fighting himself.''
Matt Barnes has made it clear that he would like to be the team's closer, but understands that even a few strong outings -- like the one he had Sunday, in which he struck out two in a scoreless inning -- isn't about to win him the spot.
"I'll be honest with you, I don't think I'm going to be judged on eight or nine outings in spring training, more than the last four of five years' worth of work,'' he said. "Obviously, if there was something drastic and I was coming out, throwing 88 mph, that's probably a topic for a different day. But if I come out, showing the stuff that I've had my entire career, I don't think the eight or nine outings in spring training, where I'm building up and looking to get ready for the season, are going to define the decision on what they're going to do.''