Pitchers ramping up intensity from the start

Pitchers ramping up intensity from the start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- There won't be any "easing into Spring Training" for Angels pitchers, per se. Not after posting by far the worst ERA in baseball last spring, and not after a combined 17-32 record over the last two Aprils.

"We're going to push them hard," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said, "and they're ready for it. … They've been prepped since last year on our own expectations of what we want to have here. They've grasped it with open arms, and they're ready to go."

Bullpen sessions, particularly for relievers, were a lot more aggressive in the 14 days of pre-Cactus League workouts, and live batting-practice sessions have been re-introduced after a one-year hiatus.

Each starting pitcher has already completed one "up-down" session of live BP, which is essentially a two-inning simulated game. And when they start taking their turns in actual games -- starting with Jered Weaver against the Cubs on Friday -- they could go as deep as three full innings, rather than the customary one or two.

The point is to get pitchers game-ready earlier, which the Angels hope will translate into a better start to the regular season.

"These guys came in in tremendous shape," Butcher said. "These guys are mentally and physically ready to go out there and do what they're capable of doing. The plan is to go out there and go as deep as we can -- within reason, obviously, and health-wise, as well. But they're going to get out there and they're going to get after it."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.