Lynn happy to follow road signs as Molina test drives his pitche -

Lynn happy to follow road signs as Molina test drives his pitches

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JUPITER, Fl. ( -- Spring training has the feel of an infinite time loop. The sun rises and sets, the complex bustles and falls silent and the calendar loses all purpose beyond displaying which team will be featured opposite the Cardinals in the upcoming exhibition game. The cycle continues for a month and a half, each day sharing such similarity with the preceding one it begins to feel like living in a re-run.

It’s that way for many players as well, even the ones who can mark their calendars with upcoming starts.  

“Is that who we were playing today?” Lance Lynn asked with a grin after his start against the Washington Nationals in Jupiter. “I didn’t know. Everybody looks the same around here. It’s like Groundhog Day.”

The feeling increased as he talked about his second spring outing, as his interest in the day’s work was similar to five days ago. It’s still early March and Lynn’s enthusiasm is commensurate with the date.   

“I got all my pitches in,” he said Saturday, adding he once again eschewed a personal game plan heading into the day.

“Yadi called it, I through it,” he said.

His second start saw more secondary pitches, with a changeup yielding a strikeout and his breaking ball making several appearances.

While Lynn said there was no road map in place for the day, catcher Yadier Molina seemed focused on exploring the progress of his offspeed offerings, ones rendered unusable by a damaged elbow in 2015.

“Yadi doing his thing,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Sometimes, they’re just taking the new car for a ride, you know. Just kind of seeing where Lance is. His fastball is there, but to see where his secondary stuff is right now I think it’s a great idea in spring.”

When evaluating his repertoire, Lynn revealed he uses a process elegant in his simplicity.

“They’re all in the strike zone. That’s where we are aiming,” he said.

When asked why a pitcher would do something so ludicrous as aim for the strike zone, the 29-year-old shared a bit of inside baseball with the media.

“Because you have to be able to throw them for strikes or it’s not a pitch. I was taught that a long time ago. If you can’t throw it for a strike it’s not a pitch,” he said. “I learned that in college. That’s what I went to college for.”

His education at Ole Miss proved fruitful, as his fastball danced around the zone in both his spring starts. It’s slower than usual at this point, topping out at about 90 miles per hour. But Lynn couldn’t care less about the radar gun if he tried. Right now he cares only about command.

“As long as it’s going the direction it’s supposed to go, moving and cutting,” he said. “As long as they’re  not barreling it, we’re fine. A lot of grounders and weak fly balls so I did what I wanted to do.”

He made two missteps outside of at bats, however. The first came when Lynn fielded a comebacker with a man on second. Instead of inducing a run down or taking the out at first, he opted to toss the ball softly to third, which was being manned by prospect Paul DeJong.

“It was deep in my hand and he was kind of back pedaling. I should have just turned and fired it to first once I saw that happen. It was just a bad play,” he said.  

It resulted in no outs and men at both first and second. An inning later, an errant pickoff throw led to an unearned run for the Nationals, their half of Saturday’s 1-1 final score.

Poor defense aside, Lynn is very comfortable about where he is at this point in spring. His surgically repaired arm is healthy, his fastball has the movement he wants and his secondary pitches are all in the strike zone, so he can continue to call them pitches.

But it still isn’t April, so he still doesn’t care all that much.

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