BRADENTON, Fla. — Although closer Octavio Dotel is yet to face a major league batter this spring, he expects to be ready to pitch on Opening Day.
This afternoon, Dotel retired all four batters he faced (three strikeouts, one fly ball) in a minor league game at Pirate City. If he can pitch in another six or seven innings over the next two weeks, he believes he will be ready to go.
“I’m surprised with myself right now, because Joe (Kerrigan, pitching coach) told me I threw a couple fastballs at 91-92 mph,” Dotel said. “I’m surprised that I’m throwing that hard at this point. It makes me feel good because I’m not that far from where I want to be.”
Dotel will make his Grapefruit League debut Wednesday against the Red Sox at McKechnie Field.
Kevin Hart, meanwhile, faced 18 batters in 3 1/3 innings in another minor league game. He yielded three runs on four hits — all singles, three of them infield hits — and four walks. He struck out three and had one wild pitch.
“I definitely think I found some rhythm out there,” Hart said. “At times, I was throwing the ball downhill and throwing well. I threw a bunch of pitches and got to work through some things.”
Control issues this spring are threatening to push Hart out of the race for the No. 5 starter’s job. He’s being challenged by rookie Daniel McCutchen.
Today in Clearwater, Fla., McCutchen tossed four scoreless innings against the Phillies’ Triple-A team. The righty allowed three hits, walked one and struck out two.