PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Zach Davies enjoyed all those grounders. It looks as if his work is paying off.
The right-hander got five ground-ball outs while pitching 2 2/3 innings in Milwaukee's 8-2 exhibition win over San Diego on Thursday.
''I'm happy about that,'' Davies said. ''Last year I got less ground balls than before, but that's a little bit of a focus now. I'm trying to stay low in the zone, stay on my sinker and get more ground balls.''
Three of the four hits off Davies were ground balls, with two staying in the infield. The other hit was on his 47th and final pitch, a Wil Myers home run.
''A 3-1 pitch I left up in the zone,'' Davies said. ''I dug myself into a hole and at that point you've got to try to be over the plate. I left the ball up and that's what a player like Myers can do with it.''
Davies said he threw more breaking balls and change-ups than he normally would during the regular season.
''I've been frustrated with nibbling a little bit, but I'm also working on certain pitches and certain situations,'' Davies said. ''I would not have thrown so many off-speed pitches in the first two innings, but you've got to try and find it somehow. You've got to try to work it in. Bullpens you can only do so much.
''You don't have many pitches, not many innings, so you're trying to get a feel for off-speed pitches. Fastball command is a little easier to find.''
Brewers manager Craig Counsell was glad to see Davies mix in all of his pitches.
''For Zach especially to kind of expand things he's thinking about doing it's what you want him to do and what we encourage him to do for sure,'' Counsell said. ''(The ground-ball outs) are not necessarily normal for him. I think he was making an effort to throw some off-speed early in the count today. I don't think that's a change we'll see in him this season. But he did a nice job. He kept the ball down with off-speed.''
The 24-year-old Davies is penciled in as the Brewers' No. 2 starter after going 11-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 28 starts as a rookie. He led the team in victories and tied for second among big league rookies.
Davies' season began poorly. The Pittsburgh Pirates roughed him up for six runs in 2 1/3 innings in his first start. He went 0-3 in April with an 8.78 ERA.
''I was ready for the season,'' Davies said. ''I don't think it was any preparation. I think it was just a little bit of a mindset that kind of changed once I sat down and said let's go back to what I do best.''
In May, June and July, Davies went 8-1 with a 2.84 ERA. In his final 25 starts, he posted an 11-4 record with a 3.54 ERA.
''I don't know if there was ever one moment, just the consistency over the course after April last year that you prove to yourself that you belong,'' Davies said.
Davies, who is listed at 6-foot, 155 pounds, is not taking it for granted.
''I have a positive outlook with it,'' he said. ''I know if I take it lightly I kind of get away from what I've been doing that it can backfire. I still take it seriously. It can change real fast.''