What was an encouraging Spring Training for Schlereth, who accomplished the fastball command he wanted to improve, has turned into a nightmare of an opening stint. With one run charged over 1 1/3 innings during Saturday's 5-1 loss, his ERA actually dropped to 9.00. His hit total, however, rose to seven over four innings in as many outings. Two of those hits are home runs, including Paul Konerko's shot Saturday.
After the game, manager Jim Leyland said he had kept Schlereth for a second inning to try to get him some repetitions and allow him to work through location problems.
"The command's not very good," Leyland said. "That's why I wanted to pitch him."
Before the game, Schlereth said he felt like he was executing most of his pitches, albeit not consistently enough. He had watched Alejandro De Aza's wind-blown fly ball in left field Friday lead to a triple that set up an RBI ground-ball single by Brent Morel against a drawn-in infield.
"It's just hard right now," Schlereth said. "That's how things go sometimes. Sometimes you get line-drive outs right to guys. Other times, you get choppers and balls that do this in the wind. It's just how it goes."
Schlereth came into the regular season coming off the best Spring Training of his career, allowing just two earned runs on four hits over 11 2/3 innings despite seven walks, but with help from 14 strikeouts. He came in wanting to work on his fastball command, and he accomplished it.
He felt like he has taken that into the season, at least the fastball part, though he struggled to spot it against De Aza on Friday. His curveball, of all things, hasn't quite been so consistent, which hurt him Wednesday against the Rays and nearly doomed him Friday when he went to a full count against Adam Dunn before striking him out on a fastball.
"[Friday] was probably the best I've felt this season," Schlereth said. "I know I've only pitched three times, but that's still the best I've felt. My velocity was back. I thought my breaking ball was pretty good. [Against] Morel, I probably could've gotten that one down a little more, but I mean, he didn't hit it hard. Our infield was in."
With a 3-1 count against Konerko, Schlereth had to challenge him with a fastball and paid for it.
"We've got 150 whatever games left. That's all you can really do. You've got to keep grinding and keep working to get consistent," Schlereth said. "Hopefully, the chips fall a little bit better when I'm out there so I can actually help this team in some way instead of just blowing the doors open for us and making us lose games like this."