Suppan doing what he can to make Giants

Suppan doing what he can to make Giants

Suppan doing what he can to make Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Suppan had to pause and think for a while before recalling the last time he entered Spring Training fighting for a spot on the Giants' staff.

"Maybe '96, '97, '98 with the Red Sox?" Suppan said. "But I was so young. I felt like no matter where I was, I was just getting ready for the season."

But Suppan is no longer that young right-hander, having turned 36 in January and is now on his seventh big league club after 16 seasons in the Majors.

So it's simply a different experience for Suppan this year with the Giants, as he knows a spot in the rotation will be hard to come by with incumbents Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito and Madison Bumgarner still on the roster after last year's World Series triumph.

Nothing is guaranteed for Suppan, who signed a Minor League deal with the club over the offseason, and he knows it's a big change for him after making at least 30 starts in every season from 1999-2009.

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"It's a whole new spring -- that's all I can say," said Suppan, who posted a 5.06 ERA while splitting time with the Brewers and Cardinals last season. "It's a little different situation and a little different preparation. So I'm trying to go out and work out on what I need to work and just make pitches."

So far, however, it's gone as well as Suppan could've hoped, as he's allowed just one hit over six scoreless innings in Cactus League play. He was at it again on Friday in a 7-2 win over the Brewers, when he made his first start and allowed just one hit over three innings to pick up his first win of the spring.

"He knows what he's doing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He has such good command of the strike zone and uses all his pitches with that control. That's what you want to see -- a guy punching the strike zone like he does."

Suppan still isn't satisfied, though, as he knows there's plenty of Spring Training baseball left. He still has to work on a few things such as his sinker, which he said isn't exactly where he wants it to be.

"I threw some good ones and I threw some bad ones," Suppan said of his outing on Friday. "So overall, I think I'm just trying to pitch off of each pitch. But I was getting outs with it."

Suppan said the biggest difference for him this spring has been the way he uses his pitches. He knows his performance will be judged differently than in the past, when he could tinker with pitches in Spring Training and get away with it.

"Sometimes I would develop different pitches at different times and use certain pitches in certain situations for the upcoming season," Suppan said. "But now, I might be choosing a different pitching sequence to get outs with. It's just different, but it's hard to describe it."

But while some things have definitely changed, there are others that have stayed the same because of all he's learned from his experience in the big leagues.

"I'm trying to evaluate my pitches like I always have and trying to regain stamina," Suppan said. "I've always gone out to pitch well and so those things don't change. So in that aspect, nothing has changed except the surrounding situation."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.