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Scoreless effort latest in Schlereth's pristine spring

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Daniel Schlereth took the mound for the ninth inning Saturday at McKechnie Field, some were of the opinion that he should have done so wearing an ESPN jersey. Turnabout is fair: His dad Mark had spent the week co-hosting the network's broadcast of a radio show wearing a Pirates jersey.

"Yeah, that would've been only fair," Dan Schlereth said.

Mark Schlereth, the former NFL guard, had done so to promote his son's bid to earn a seat in the Bucs' bullpen. Thanks, Dad, but Dan himself has done plenty in that regard, and continued the mission Saturday by hanging another zero.

In six spring outings of one inning each, tied for the team high, Schlereth has allowed five hits and no runs, with six strikeouts.

The left-hander is trying to return to the Majors for the first time since 2012, when he pitched the final six of his 94 big league games before being shelved by shoulder inflammation. Impressive what health and a revamped delivery can wreak.

"I lowered my arm slot a little bit, and it just feels better. I should also be more durable," said Schlereth, 27. "My shoulder is free when I have a lower arm slot, and another great thing about that is getting real good movement on my fastball. I'm not throwing as hard, but I can still sneak it by guys."

"He's feeling the best he's felt in years," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's shown the ability to get the ball inside to left-handed hitters. He's making some progress."

Schlereth makes it a point to not concern himself with the competition. From valuable incumbent lefty relievers Justin Wilson and Tony Watson, to other candidates enjoying solid springs (Adam Wilk, Andy Oliver and even Yao-Hsun Yang), it's a scrum.

"I'm really here just to prove to everyone that I'm healthy," Schlereth said. "And to contribute in whatever fashion I can. I just want to fit in and pitch well this year."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.
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