Zito faces hitters for bullpen session

Zito faces hitters for bullpen session

LOS ANGELES -- Barry Zito took a true-to-life approach toward his between-starts throwing session Wednesday.

Instead of working in the bullpen as he usually would do, Zito climbed atop the Dodger Stadium mound to throw "live" batting practice to a handful of hitters. Although it wasn't a simulated game, Zito practiced holding runners on first base and maintaining his tempo between pitches.

"It's just more of a game-like atmosphere," Zito said. "I think it's always better to work on things with a hitter. You can see how they're reacting to your stuff."

Zito said he has performed this exercise several times earlier in his career, and pitching coach Dave Righetti noted that pitchers of past eras routinely threw batting practice between starts.

"It's kind of an old-school thing," Righetti said. "It's good for the hitters and him."

Zito said that this drill wasn't prompted by his previous start last Sunday, when he allowed six runs and six hits while walking five in five innings in a 7-2 loss to Arizona. But it had something to do with his upcoming outing Saturday at San Diego. Zito will be pitching with an extra day's rest due to Thursday's scheduled off-day, so his batting-practice session ideally will help him maintain his sharpness.

"Only positive things can come from it," he said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.