PEORIA, Ariz. — Barry Zito looked like his old self in his first spring outing. Carlos Silva’s two innings also were familiar, in a much different way.
The stronger, sleeker Zito looked like the dominant left-hander of years ago in San Francisco’s 6-4 loss to Seattle on Saturday, freezing the Mariners with his familiar, bending curveball in two hitless innings.
“I’ve definitely gone through a lot of stuff in the last year,” said Zito, who lost a career-high 17 games in 2008, the second year of a $126 million, seven-year deal.
“I’m getting back to being myself again.”
Silva’s flashback was more recent. And more ominous.
He allowed five hits and two runs in two innings for Seattle, reminiscent of when he went 4-15 with a career-high 6.46 ERA in 2008 after signing a $48 million, four-year contract.
Yet Silva, who lost 35 pounds in the offseason with some high-impact yoga, was pleased.
“I felt really good. Physically and with my arm, my body feels very strong,” he said.
His manager wasn’t worried, either. After all, February just ended.
“He’s OK,” Seattle’s Don Wakamatsu said.
Silva is leaving Sunday to play for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. He said he’s ready for his 65-pitch first outing in about a week.
Silva also sympathized with Seattle teammate Adrian Beltre, whom the Mariners aren’t letting play for his native Dominican Republic over concerns he isn’t fully healthy following shoulder surgery.
“For us, a Latin guy, to represent our country is big. It’s a lot of pride. It’s too bad he can’t go,” Silva said, while understanding the team’s reasoning.
Zito spent the winter working out twice a day, six days a week doing yoga, high-intensity karate and weight lifting. He even long-tossed — extremely long tosses of 200-plus feet across a canyon in Southern California.
He struck out Ronny Cedeno looking at a looping curveball during the second at-bat of the game. Last spring, Zito faced 73 batters before getting his first strikeout.
“It’s a new year,” said Zito, who won the AL Cy Young Award in 2002 with Oakland.
Actually, it’s a continuation of his positive final weeks of 2008, which he said “proved to myself it was still in there. It’s just a matter of pitching loose.”
Notes: The competitors in the Giants’ competition at 2B are off to a fast start. Eugenio Velez went 0-for-3 but continued to play well defensively. Kevin Frandsen replaced him, robbed Cedeno of a hit in the fifth and singled and scored one day after hitting a home run. Frandsen is 4-for-5 this spring. “Yeah, they’re both playing well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s going to be a good battle.” … Two of the first three Mariners that Wakamatsu has mentioned as leading candidates to replace traded closer J.J. Putz did well. RHP Miguel Batista threw two perfect innings and pleased his manager with a quicker pace. Emotional RHP Roy Corcoran pitched a perfect inning behind Batista. Another candidate, former Giants closer RHP Tyler Walker, has been set back early by a quadriceps injury.
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