ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
When starting pitchers work during spring training games, especially early on, they're usually more worried about fine-tuning stuff and working on a certain pitch than shutting down the opposing team.
Texas Rangers fans have to hope that was the case on Sunday when Matt Harrison made his spring debut in a start against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Harrison struggled mightily, throwing 40 pitches in just one inning, 15 of which were balls. He gave up four runs on six hits and was missing up in the zone as Royals hitters teed off.
"It certainly wasn't how I wanted my first outing to go," Harrison told media after the game. "I was having a lot of trouble making that inside pitch when I was ahead in the count. I wasn't putting pitches where I wanted to today."
Harrison, who is one of the game's top groundball pitchers and always near the top of the league in double plays induced, said he was trying to work on his slider, which is all the way down in his arsenal as his fourth pitch. So yeah, it's probably not much to concern yourselves with, Rangers fans.
"I threw a few more sliders than I normally would and it's a pitch I want to work on, but in those situations I probably should have just stuck with what I have done best," Harrison said. "I wasn't making the pitch, but I kept forcing the issue with the slider."
When Harrison gets deeper into the spring and starts going 3 or 5 innings, and this continues, then it might be time to start worrying a little, but rest easy for now.