It's not that there wasn't somebody worth bragging about. Quite the opposite really.
"I couldn't pick you out one winner yet but a number of guys were doing what (pitching coach Don Cooper) wanted them to do: staying low in the zone, hitting their spots, missing low, not leaving many pitches over the heart of the plate," Flowers said. "That's their main goal at this point is to execute pitches and locations and have quality misses and quality strikes. I could be naming names all day, though. Everybody looks good."
Finally Flowers did settle on somebody who has caught his eye. Newcomer Matt Lindstrom has been more than advertised. Everybody knows about the impressive velocity from the veteran right-hander, but there is so much more to like.
"He has a real good two-seamer going now," Flowers said. "Just in talking to him he's learned over the years that just because you throw 97 mph, it doesn't mean that's the best pitch to throw all the time so he's developed a two-seamer that's pretty good and obviously his slider he throws the (heck) out of it. Catching it, it looks like it will be a tough pitch to hit."
A two-seam fastball, as opposed to a four-seamer, will have some running movement to it. Lindstrom added it to his repertoire two seasons ago when he was with the Colorado Rockies, but it wasn't truly effective until last season when he pitched for both the Baltimore Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks.
"I started throwing it more in 2011, but I noticed that it was a little more effective on the road than in Colorado; the ball really doesn't do much there," Lindstrom said. "It was a good weapon for me last year in the American League East. I'd start guys early in the count with it to get ahead and just let the action do its work and then try to elevate four-seam fastballs late."
The numbers bear out his improvement. His 7.7 combined strikeouts per inning in the American League and the National League last season were his most since his rookie year in 2007 when it was at 8.3. And his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.86 was also his best since the 2.95 mark of his rookie year.
Lindstrom, who turned 33 at the start of camp, said that it only makes sense to add to your arsenal before it's too late.
"It's just about evolving a little bit just like other pitchers," Lindstrom said. "Tom Glavine pitched for so long, and he obviously was a little more of a finesse pitcher, but he developed cutters and stuff like that. He used his changeup and added like five or six years on his career. It's a matter of trying to evolve to a different pitcher and use different grips and stuff like that."
So far, signs are pointing to the Lindstrom addition as a bargain at $2.8 million with a team option for 2014.
"I think we're happy that we got him," Flowers said. "Obviously he fit for what we wanted. He meshes right in with everybody, his personality and everything. I think his stuff he fits right in with the bullpen too."