'Determined' Suarez solid in spring debut
Prospect strikes out three in scoreless two innings vs. Brewers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andrew Suarez's anxiety disappeared Friday and was quickly replaced by skill.
During Suarez's scoreless two-inning stint in the Giants' 6-5 loss to a Milwaukee Brewers split squad in Friday's Cactus League opener, it became easy to comprehend Giants manager Bruce Bochy's enthusiasm about the 25-year-old left-hander.
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"I see a different look," Bochy said of Suarez. "Very determined."
That contrasts with last spring, when Suarez was invited to big league Spring Training and endured a few tense weeks before being sent to Minor League camp.
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Overthrowing was Suarez's biggest flaw a year ago.
"I tried to make my sinker move more than it should and tried to throw really hard. That's not my game," he said.
Suarez's current concerns on the mound are much more basic -- throwing first-pitch strikes and establishing fastball command, just like almost every established pitcher.
Though Suarez is competing for one of the two apparent vacancies in the Giants' starting rotation, he's not overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to out-pitch Ty Blach and Chris Stratton, the favorites to win those rotation roles. Nor does he fear returning to Triple-A Sacramento if he doesn't secure a big league role.
"I'm not really focused on that," said Suarez, who's ranked ninth by MLB Pipeline among Giants prospects. "I'm just trying to be me and pitch well and whatever happens, happens."
Suarez is wise not to worry. Even if he were to begin the season with the Giants as, for example, the No. 5 starter, his turn in the rotation could be skipped as many as four times due to the team's five scheduled off-days in April. At this juncture in his career, Suarez is better off pitching than sitting.
Suarez demonstrated that against the Brewers, particularly when he struck out the side in the third inning. His strikeout victims included a pair of established Major Leaguers, Jonathan Villar and Eric Thames.
"At first, I was a little hyped up," Suarez said. "But I made sure I was breathing out there and stayed relaxed."
Nick Hundley, who caught Suarez, raved about the rookie's fastball-slider combination. Hundley wasn't surprised, though.
"From day one here, he's been really confident," Hundley said. "I thought his bullpens have been really crisp. I faced him in live BP; I thought his stuff was really sharp there. I can't attest to last year, but I think this year, coming in, he has a real quiet confidence about him, for sure."