FORT MYERS, Fla. — Like Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Penny threw live batting practice for the first time this morning, and the big righthander emerged with positive news about the shoulder that plagued him during the 2008 season.
“I felt great,” said Penny. “Today, for me, answered a lot of questions, mentally and physically. I didn’t know what to expect the first time going out there to face hitters, but everything felt great.
“It’s been awhile since I’ve been out there to pitch, my command wasn’t where it normally is, but it wasn’t bad. I had life on my fastball, felt a good rotation on my breaking ball. The splitter was a little erratic, but that will come later in spring.”
Earlier, Terry Francona noted how both Papelbon and Penny are on programs that are easing them into the spring, particularly Penny, who is set up to throw every three days, instead of every two like most pitchers.
“With Paps, being a long spring, I don’t know that we need to speed him up that much,” said Francona. “With Penny, it’s a little slower progression. I think the destination is the same, but we’re getting there a little different. We went every third day instead of every second day, just to allow him an extra day to recover. When you look at the larger picture, it makes sense.”
Penny was asked if he had any words for Dodgers coach Larry Bowa, who had some critical words for the pitcher last week.
“No, not at all,” he replied.
Penny preferred to keep the focus on rebounding in 2009.
“I feel great,” said Penny, adding he wanted to prove he was healthy this season. “I just want to go out there and pitch. Last year was a rough season being hurt, hopefully I’m on the right track.”
Asked about taking it slow this spring, Penny agreed it’s the best course.
“I feel 100 percent, but the schedule I’m on now, it’s smart,” said Penny. “If you listen to me, I’d want to go out every other day, but this is smarter. It gives me a chance to strengthen my shoulder.”
Francona reiterated during his Q&A with the media that Penny has not experienced any sort of setback.
“No, he’s doing great,” said Francona. “He’s a good worker, done all that we’ve asked of him. This is just a program we came up with before he started here.”