Alyson Footer

Griffin strengthens case for rotation spot

Righty shakes off homer-friendly conditions in Alamodome

Griffin strengthens case for rotation spot

SAN ANTONIO -- A.J. Griffin grinned at Lonnie Chisenhall as they passed each other in the hallway following Friday night's game and said, "I was laughing, too."

Griffin was referring to the 280-foot home run Chisenhall hit off him in the first inning of the Indians' 3-2 victory. In any other ballpark, it would have been a very playable fly ball to shallow right.

But in San Antonio, at a stadium meant for football with the exception of two days in March when two Major League teams meet at the Alamodome for Big League Weekend, Chisenhall's hit was, officially, a home run.

"They've got to pitch here, too," Griffin said. "I consider it fair in that sense, as the game is. Obviously, the numbers might feel a little different. I enjoy it. It's a different type of baseball. It's a cool little challenge."

Chisenhall's solo homer

Griffin met the bigger challenge, too, which was further solidifying his standing as a favorite to win a job in the Rangers' rotation out of Spring Training.

Griffin did not issue a walk and struck out four in five innings. The only blemishes were three home runs, two of which, realistically, were not significant.

The outing came on the heels of a good scoreless showing against the White Sox six days earlier, a stark contrast to his March 6 start against the Mariners. In that game, Griffin allowed six runs over 2 2/3 innings.

"I was working on stuff at Seattle," he said. "I was working on my cutter and my changeup. Building off that start, I feel like I was able to command those pitches more and be more confident with them. It's been good since then."

Griffin and Dillon Gee are leading candidates to fill the final two spots in the rotation. With Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross unable to start the season on time, there are starting jobs to be won in Spring Training.

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Griffin, now in his second season with the Rangers, said he feels good at this point of the spring, in terms of being ready for the season.

"It's about go-time now, so I'm just trying to get more and more locked in," he said. "I feel like I'm taking steps in the right direction now."

Griffin realizes he's under a microscope, with evaluators watching his every pitch as he works to show he's up for the task. The 29-year-old right-hander embraces that challenge.

"You're always being evaluated in baseball, not only by your team, but by all the other teams, too," he said. "They've got scouts at every game. There's always evaluating going on everywhere. It's part of it. I feel like I'm able to thrive more when it comes to that kind of stuff. It's fun being healthy and playing baseball."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.