LAKELAND, Fla. -- Jim Leyland issued his annual Spring Training warning earlier than usual about not reading too much into bullpen sessions. Everybody looks good, he likes to say, before they face live hitters, let alone game situations.
That said, Leyland had a note of encouragement for fifth-starter candidate Rick Porcello, who appears to be making progress on the pitch he needs to get hitters off his sinker.
"It caught my eye," Leyland said of Porcello's side session Tuesday. "He threw some really good sliders yesterday, so that registered."
Porcello came to camp working on his overall mechanics after some tweaking by pitching coach Jeff Jones, but the slider seems to be the pitch most likely to benefit. He threw fewer sliders as a percentage of his pitches last year than he had at any point since his rookie season.