Zito still on target for Sunday start
LOS ANGELES –- Barry Zito doesn’t intend to look back. That just generates too many negative thoughts and feelings. Right now, he’s focusing on making his first start of the 2011 season on Sunday evening at Dodger Stadium after suffering a neck injury in a two-car collision earlier this week.
Zito’s rented Cadillac was broadsided on its right rear side by a taxi that ran a red light on Wednesday evening in Hollywood at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sunset Plaza Drive. Zito was trying to make a left at the time. The crash rattled the veteran left-hander, sending him to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he spent three hours. He had an X-ray that night and was released. On Thursday he showed up at the ballpark wearing a neck brace and was sent off for an MRI that evidently showed no severe damage.
Sans brace, Zito underwent therapy and threw to a catcher on the flat surface of the right-field grass hours before Friday night’s game. Beforehand he proclaimed himself fortunate. Afterward he said he felt well enough to make the start.
“Everything was normal. I’m really blessed in that right,” Zito said. “It’s scary. It’s a scary sound hearing metal hitting metal. If I hadn’t made a decision to hit the gas when I did, he would’ve hit me in the front and it would’ve been a whole different story.”
Zito added that his neck still felt sore.
“It feels a lot better than it did yesterday,” he said. “We’ve been treating it a lot. I expect to feel even better tomorrow.”
The Giants are still reserving judgment about Zito’s availability on Sunday. They have a day off Monday before playing the Padres in their home opener at PETCO Park on Tuesday afternoon. Manager Bruce Bochy said he probably wouldn’t move Madison Bumgarner, Tuesday’s starter, into Zito’s spot, if necessary. Instead it may be a start by committee.
“It looks good,” Bochy said on Friday about Zito pitching. “He has a couple of more days to feel better and improve. When you lose a starter that’s not easy to replace. With a day off the next day that does allow you to use your guys in the bullpen.”
Pitching coach Dave Righetti gave a thumbs up.
“I like where he was today,” he said. “There’s no question about it.”