Five hours before game time Tuesday, Jeff Weaver took the mound in Anaheim and threw a simulated game – three innings against Willie Bloomquist, Jason Ellison and batting practice pitcher John Moses.
The $8.5 million right-hander, on the disabled list with shoulder tendonitis, threw all his pitches and the verdict afterward came down to one word.
Better location, slightly better velocity. Better breaking pitches, better sinker.
Better than what? Better than Weaver has been in months.
"I caught him his last spring training game in Las Vegas, and he was throwing pretty well then," catcher Jamie Burke said. "He was like that today. Much better."
Bloomquist sounded like a real estate salesman after facing Weaver.
"Location, location, location," he said. "Earlier this season, when he was up, his pitches were flat. Today, he was down, and those pitches were really moving. When he’s down, he’s tough."
Moses stood in because he was a left-handed hitter, and never swung because he was using a borrowed bat – and Bloomquist threatened him if he broke it there’d be consequences.
Manager Mike Hargrove watched from behind the batting cage and went along with everyone else.
"More life on his pitches, but I’d like to have seen a little more velocity," Hargrove said. "That may come with more pitching."
What’s the plan now? Weaver may throw another bullpen, another simulated game and then go make a couple of rehabilitation assignment starts in the minor leagues. Or, he might be sent on that rehab assignment in the next few days.
Harrove, GM Bill Bavasi and team trainers will huddle to determine that.
What they think, at this point, is that a pitcher who went 0-6 in six starts, is better.
Hard to imagine he could have been worse.