SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Barry Zito spent last spring tweaking his delivery first crouched, then upright and struggled so much in late March that he stayed to make a start at extended spring training.
Zito's turnaround 2012 season capped by a strong showing in the playoffs have made this spring relatively calm. No longer fiddling with his mechanics, Zito is free to focus on making sure his delivery is consistent and bringing along his pitches gradually.
The left-hander said he was pleased with his second spring outing Sunday, in which he allowed two hits and struck out two in three shutout innings in the Giants' 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"He was sharp, had a good tempo out there hitting his spots," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been throwing well since he's been here. He's on track."
The strikeouts came against two former teammates. Zito retired Cody Ross looking on a cutter and pinch hitter Eric Chavez swinging at a breaking ball.
It was smoother than Zito's first appearance Feb. 27, when he allowed two hits and two runs in 12/3 innings. Zito said his "focus was better, my timing was better and just made more pitches."
Nice recovery Heath Hembree earned the save by working out of a ninth-inning jam. The first two batters reached against Hembree in a 5-2 game, but he retired the next three on a run-scoring groundout, strikeout and lazy fly ball.
"He showed good poise out there and made some pitches," Bochy said. "That's what you've got to do if you're going to be a closer or set-up guy. He did a nice job."
The right-handed prospect, one of the hardest throwers in camp, said he threw too many fastballs to the first two hitters and started mixing in more sliders. Hembree also threw one changeup a pitch he's been working on the past two seasons.
"I have a lot more confidence in it now than I have ever," Hembree said. "I feel like I can throw it in any count."
Hembree, a long shot to make the big-league roster, saved 15 games for Triple-A Fresno last season. Sunday was his first save opportunity of the spring, and he said the feeling of entering a game in the ninth translated.
"You get that little bit of adrenaline going," he said. "It doesn't really matter what game it is. You always want to get that save."
Panda watch Bochy said the Giants gave Pablo Sandoval a conditioning program to follow while the third baseman is playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. It's the same program Sandoval has been on in camp.
Bochy said Sandoval dropped 14 pounds since the start of spring training.