SARASOTA, Fla. -- Position player turned pitcher Brandon Backe has learned a few things from watching the game's best, including his teammate, Roy Oswalt.
Backe admires Oswalt's penchant for working quickly and tries to do the same when he's on the mound. That plan certainly worked on Tuesday, when Backe needed only around 45 minutes to retire the majority of the batters he faced over four scoreless frames.
"You know what you've got to do, you grab the ball and you do it, without second guessing yourself, without contemplating what you want to do," Backe said. "Have a plan, go about it and get it done. I think that puts a lot of pressure on the opposing team, when the pitcher grabs the ball and goes at it as quick as Roy does. Your teammates, everybody around you, enjoys that because they're on the balls of their feet and they're doing something."
Backe threw 50 pitches. His goal was to limit each batter to around four pitches per at-bat.
"Four pitches -- either they got on, or they got out," Backe said. "I think that, for the most part, I did that."
This start was Backe's best of the three he's made this spring. He yielded four runs over three frames in his previous start, and he threw two scoreless innings in his first spring outing.
"My last outing I felt great, but obviously, I got hit around a little bit," Backe said. "I worked on some things these last two bullpens before this start, gave my arm a lot of work, and I was kind of worried going into this start just kind of having a little dead arm through that work. But I felt great out there."
Manager Cecil Cooper lauded Backe for his efficiency in this outing, noting the right-hander looked like the "guy we thought we'd have" before Backe had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in September 2006.
"He's a competitor, and he wants to be out there," Cooper said. "Every opportunity we can give him to do that and go deeper into ballgames, we'll give it to him. Today, if this was a regular season game, we'd probably pitch him into the sixth, maybe the seventh, the way he was going."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.