Zych threw his second live batting practice of the spring on Sunday.
PEORIA, Ariz. — Tony Zych didn’t want to be presumptive. Instead of declaring himself ready to pitch in Cactus League games in his recovery from shoulder surgery, the hard-throwing right-hander deferred to those in charge following his second live batting practice session of the spring on Sunday morning.
“I’m just going to leave it up them and what they say,” he said. “They were going evaluate what they’ve seen on this one and take it from there. I feel close. But it’s up to them.”
The evaluation from the assortment of coaches and baseball operations staff watching Zych’s pitch to Mike Freeman came back positive.
“It was good,” manager Scott Servais said. “The ball was coming out hot. He wasn’t maybe quite as sharp as his first time out, but he’s healthy and he feels really good about it. So we’ll keep building. You could see him in a game later on this week.”
In his second time facing a hitter, Zych tried to increase his focus on the details of his command of pitches.
“I felt like I was able to go a little more in depth and focus on location little better and focus on what my pitches were doing instead of just trying to get comfortable,” he said. “It was definitely another step farther and in the right direction.”
There were a few wandering pitches early as Zych struggled to find his target.
“From the cage, there as a shadow over the plate so I was having trouble figuring out where to start it at, but once I kind of figured it out, it got better,” he said. “Everything is feeling good, I definitely feel like I need to get a little more comfortable facing hitters and working counts. I haven’t done that too much of that. Once I get in those situations, it will come back quick.”
A game situation will allow Zych to do that. It would also give him an outside chance to build himself up by opening day. That probably isn’t a priority for the Mariners, but with Shae Simmons and Steve Cishek unlikely to be ready to pitch by opening day, the depth of right-handed relievers on the 40-man roster has taken a hit. Zych and Cishek both underwent offseason surgery, Cishek to repair a torn labrum in his hip and Zych a biceps tendon debridement.
Realistically, Casey Fien would be the fifth right-hander in the bullpen for opening day, joining Edwin Diaz, Nick Vincent, Evan Scribner and Dan Altavilla. But Zych would give them an added arm for depth and another power arm, which is always useful.