SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joe Nathan's line from Monday's Cactus League game against the Milwaukee Brewers wasn't a memorable one. He gave up three runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in his lone inning of work. The Rangers were leading at the time, so Nathan got a blown save and a loss.
So was the veteran closer worried as he changed and headed for home in the Rangers' clubhouse after the outing?
"No, I'm not," Nathan said. "I was trying something with my delivery, trying to bull rush or quick-pitch them. It didn't work."
Nathan decided to try out a shorter leg kick and a quicker delivery. It's something he's talked about using at times to give hitters and runners a different look because he has such a high leg kick normally.
But Nathan's other focus Monday was locating his pitches and he felt he was sharper, despite what the box score showed. Nathan, though, admits he hasn't been as consistent as he'd like this spring.
"It's been up and down," Nathan said. "There's been outings where I've been sharp and outings where I haven't been as sharp."
Nathan said Monday's outing was better than what he did in Peoria. He said he got ahead in counts and had his command in better shape. Nathan said he was pleased with his sinker and that he split his fastballs up between two-seamers and four-seamers to get some work in on both. He also threw a few changeups.
"I was able to get ahead, but wasn't able to put hitters away today," Nathan said. "Do I go after those hitters a little differently during the season? Maybe. At the same time, this isn't about putting hitters away right now. I know I can throw a slider with two strikes. Let's do something that I don't know how good I am in certain situations. That's the stuff I'm working on."
Both pitching coach Mike Maddux and manager Ron Washington aren't concerned about Nathan's statistics so far this spring (18.00 ERA).
"I like the velocity," Washington said. "Joe will keep getting the ball down here and I'll give him the ball at the end when the season started. The ball was coming out well."
Nathan will get plenty of more chances to get things going in the next few weeks. And he knows the results will matter as the weeks progress.
"I have to start to hone in," Nathan said. "We've still got a ton of time. I still have time, but it's time to start to dial in and get things focused in a little bit and I will."