PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ernesto Frieri is starting his fifth big league campaign after going 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA while splitting last season with the Padres and Angels. He converted 23 of 25 save opportunities for the Halos, but he's still working on getting better, adding a changeup and cutter to complement his fastball.
"I'm excited," he said about his cutter after using it effectively in Thursday's win over the Padres. "Can't you see the smile on my face? I'm excited about those two pitches. They're going to help me a lot."
He didn't throw his changeup, because he's working on it primarily against left-handers, and the only lefty he faced was Yonder Alonso, who popped out on a first-pitch fastball. The cutter was especially effective against Cameron Maybin, who grounded to third on a full-count cutter.
"Camerin Maybin looked bad with that pitch," Frieri said. "That was a cutter from inside to right down the middle. He didn't hit the ball that good. That means it's a good pitch. It means it looks just like my fastball. That's what I want. They see my fastball all the time. Last year, they knew the fastball was coming, and I threw the fastball. Now they know the fastball is coming, and [I throw the] cutter. Got him!"
Frieri admitted if the season started tomorrow, he wouldn't feel ready to use the cutter or the changeup, but he's optimistic of having confidence in them by Opening Day.
"This is the best level in baseball," Frieri said. "You got to make adjustments to stay here. You have to keep working. Just because you had a great year, are you going to sit there and relax? No. That's not me. I keep improving myself. I like to compete, to get better, and to try new stuff."
Manager Mike Scioscia was pleased with the results as Frieri capped his fourth Cactus League outing with his fourth scoreless inning, keeping a perfect 0.00 ERA next to his name.
"Ernie looked sharp," Scioscia said. "The whole pitching staff's doing a good job. Garrett [Richards] pitched well. C.J. [Wilson] had good life and really threw some good breaking balls. Those guys are right on pace with where they need to be."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.