Hensley ready to impress
Righty fixes mechanics, looks to break camp with Astros
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Knowing that something must have been wrong after he served up eight runs to the Mets in two-thirds of an inning last week, Clay Hensley turned to the archives, requesting video from earlier in his career with the Padres. Then he approached Astros pitching coach Dewey Robinson, asking him to take a look.
Robinson's mission was to figure out what part of Hensley's mechanics he was not duplicating this spring.
"We worked on it all week, and I think now everything feels a lot more comfortable," Hensley said. "I've been throwing a lot more free and easy, and it feels good."
The results on Thursday agreed. In what manager Cecil Cooper called an important outing for a pitcher without any guarantees of making the club, Hensley fired two scoreless innings against Team Panama, yielding no hits while striking out one and walking one. Hensley came away from it feeling comfortable, and Cooper came away from it impressed.
"He pitched well," Cooper said. "He was very efficient, down in the strike zone. It was good to see him get some ground balls. That's the type of pitcher he is -- a ground-ball pitcher."
Hensley induced three straight ground balls in the second of his two innings, and he feels that he's beyond the mechanical troubles that plagued him earlier this spring.
An Astros fan as a child, Hensley could -- if he pitches well enough -- win a spot in the rotation or even in the bullpen. Now fully healthy after right shoulder surgery in 2007 and a strain of the same shoulder early last year, Hensley believes that his mechanics might be fixed for good.
"We ironed it out," Hensley said. "I think it's something I've probably been doing since I came back from surgery, but just never really had anybody tell me. You're going to keep making the same mistakes."
Astros extras: Starter Roy Oswalt, readying to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, will appear with nine of his USA teammates in a prerecorded segment on Thursday's Late Show with David Letterman. He will help present the "Top 10 Reasons to Watch the World Baseball Classic." ... the Astros signed 28-year-old left-handed reliever Neal Musser to a Minor League contract on Thursday. The Royals had designated Musser for assignment earlier this spring. ... Right-hander Doug Brocail made his spring debut against Team Panama, walking one batter in a scoreless inning.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.