JUPITER, Fla. — Last time Cristian Javier pitched, he did so in front of 31,696 raucous fans in the World Baseball Classic. He stormed out in front of nearly 29,000 fewer fans on Sunday, but was still pleased with his performance in preparation for the regular season less than two weeks away.
In his second Grapefruit League outing, Javier pitched four innings, giving up three runs on five hits, striking out five and walking one in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins. More importantly, the 25-year-old right-handed player threw 51 of his 76 pitches for hits.
“All my shots went right today,” said Javier. “I did what I wanted to do, which was attack the strike zone with all my shots.”
Javier’s speed has dropped a bit since last year, but he said it was nothing to worry about. His four-seam fastball has surpassed 93 mph and averaged 91.4 after averaging 93.8 mph last season. The slider’s average speed was also one tick lower.
“It’s all normal,” Javier said. “It’s just things that happen in a game. My arm feels good,”
Javier made just one outing in the spring before appearing at the World Baseball Classic in Miami to represent the Dominican Republic. In his only WBC start, he pitched four shutout innings in a 6-1 win over Nicaragua, allowing just two hits and striking out four. That means he has had three appearances on the mound, which puts him one behind other starters in the rotation like Framber Valdez and Hunter Brown. However, Astros manager Dusty Baker said launching into the intense environment provided by international competition should be good for Javier, who will make another start this spring.
“It was a great experience for me,” said Javier. “Being able to represent my country, having my family and friends there, it’s been a great experience.”