Want to know what spring training if for today?
Ask Nate Robertson, a non-roster lefty who's kicked around a bit since playing seven years in Detroit. At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, he's built like the linebacker he was in school, and he's searching for a spot in the Seattle Mariners rotation this spring.
In the first workout of the spring, he threw a bullpen session to veteran catcher Miguel Olivo, and heard something that might change his entire approach on the mound.
"I faced Miguel when he was in Kansas City, then last year when I was in the National League and he was with the Rockies," Robertson said. "He told me he didn't hit me well in KC because I threw inside, and that he hit me pretty well last year because I didn't go inside much."
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That's the kind of nugget pitchers covet, one small thing that might help them regain an edge on the mound. It's the kind of thing that happens daily in spring training - a hitting tip, a base-running trick, a thought on transferring the ball on the double play pivot.
There's conditioning and fundamental drills and hours of batting practice ahead this spring, but on any given day - from any source - might come information that could change a career.
Players all want it, and they don't might sharing what they'e observed in teammates.
"I've lost some velocity the last few years and a few coaches wanted me to become a uy who throws soft stuff, always away to hitters," Robertson said. "What Miguel said reinforced my own thinking, but to hear it from someone else - someone who'd batted against you - made me think."
One small suggestion, one giant step for ... a pitcher who might help the Mariners in 2011. In camps across Arizona and Florida, that's what spring training is about.