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Weaver's new routine pays off in first start

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jered Weaver got ready in a way he never really has before this offseason. He worked on his offspeed pitches prior to Spring Training for the first time, in anticipation of getting stretched out early, and trained with massage therapist Yoichi Terada to "get all the limbs and everything feeling up to par."

"Just a lot of stretching and trying to get all the tightness out of this body that's not getting any younger," the 31-year-old right-hander said. "I still feel good, but just a little extra maintenance this offseason."

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Weaver noticed the difference in his first Spring Training start against the Cubs on Friday, while breezing through three scoreless innings at Tempe Diablo Stadium in the Angels' 15-3 win. He gave up one infield hit, walked none, struck out one and allowed only one hard-hit ball -- a line-drive out by Chris Coghlan to lead off the game.

Weaver sat at mainly 87 mph with his fastball during his 41-pitch outing, which is right around where he was in 2013, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia felt the ball was "coming out hot."

"It felt good," Weaver said, "and that's what's most important right now."

Weaver focused on throwing strikes and being disciplined with his mechanics. He threw mainly fastballs in the first inning, then started integrating breaking pitches in the last two frames. As usual, his changeup was very effective.

"It looks pretty good all the time," he said with a sly grin.

Weaver is used to throwing no more than two innings in his first Spring Training outing. But Angels pitchers are getting pushed harder in camp this year, with each starter already completing the equivalent of a two-inning simulated game and lining up for three full frames the first time around.

Weaver faced the minimum in the first two innings, then sat on the bench as the Angels batted around to score four runs, then notched a 1-2-3 third to finish his day.

"It was nice to have that long wait; it gave me a chance to catch my breath," Weaver said. "I didn't know how it was going to work out. Obviously, that first start you're a little nervous going into it, just because you don't know if location is going to be there or what-not, but I felt good. I don't know how many pitches I threw, but I still felt like I had some more to go."

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.

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