CLEARWATER, Fla. - Andy Oliver's self-critique of his third straight scoreless outing this spring was "not that good."
The Phillies pitcher was not satisfied even though he allowed no hits and struck out a pair of batters in two innings Wednesday in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Oliver has not allowed a run in six innings this spring. The lefthander has struck out four batters and scattered two hits in the best spring training of his career.
"Overall it was all right," Oliver said. "There's still some stuff I need to work on."
The Phillies acquired Oliver in December's Rule 5 draft when he was left unprotected by the Pirates. He has not appeared in a major-league game since 2011, when he was with Detroit. Oliver is still searching for his first win and for a chance to stick with a major-league team.
"That would be a great thing to do," Oliver said. "I'd love to do that. I came out here to do that. It would be great."
Manager Ryne Sandberg said he sees Oliver as a reliever with a "plus fastball and a plus slider."
"Up to this point, he's thrown just enough strikes to get through an inning," Sandberg said. "His stuff is quality in the zone. For him, getting ahead of the count and throw more strikes is something he's working on."
Oliver said he wished he was able to better command his fastball Wednesday. He said he needs to be less "fine" and "picky" with the pitch. "Then it tends to miss in the beginning of the count and then I have to fight back to get even," he said.
He was able to throw his slider effectively. Oliver used the secondary pitch to earn both of his strikeouts. He caught Pirates second baseman Neil Walker looking at the slider. Home plate umpire Tom Hallion twisted his body and emphatically punched with his right arm to signal the strikeout.
Oliver had already turned to the outfield. He missed the umpire's call. But he saw the dramatic motion earlier when he was on the bench. His critique was more positive than the one he gave his own performance. "It was a pretty good one," Oliver said.