PHOENIX -- Chris Narverson was on the wrong side of a slugfest at Maryvale Baseball Park on Sunday, taking repeated punches as he tried to find his command in a 9-8 loss to the Reds.
Narveson gave up seven runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings, but he was taken off the hook when his club battled back for three more runs and the lead after he left the game -- only to lose it when the Reds came back again in the seventh and eighth innings.
"It was a battle," Narveson said. "I never really felt like I was in rhythm. I just kind of tried to search for my gameplan. I knew what I wanted to do, but sometimes I wasn't able to execute the pitch. There's some positive, but I saw some things I have to iron out before the season gets going."
Narveson entered the game with a respectable 3.65 Cactus Leaue ERA and a mission to work on his curve. He left with a 6.48 ERA and a laundry list of items to address before his next start.
"He's not throwing it where he wants to," said manager Ron Roenicke. "In Spring Training, that's the last thing all these pitchers lock in on is their command. That's why we try to throw so many outings, to get them to where they can put the ball where they want to. With the starters, their arm strength should be there, but it's trying to get that location down to where, especially if they're behind in the count, they still need to make a good pitch. If you can't to a Major League hitter, they're going to hit it hard."
Narveson worked on his curve, but he found himself frustrated with his inability to be consistent with it.
"It was tough getting a grip," he said. "I know the spin, I'm going to get the location down, I just have to keep throwing it. Eventually, it's going to come. That's why it's Spring Training, to be able to go out there and work on this stuff.
It was hard to find the positives, but Narveson felt he was able to recover quickly after losing his feel for certain pitches. The erratic command is a significant issue to address over his final two spring starts.
"I think it's just my tempo," Narveson said. "Sometimes you don't realize it coming in, not being on the mound repetitively every fifth day in succession. Once you get that rhythm and know your own tempo, you kind of get the ball and just get going and it's second nature. Until you get there, you try to battle yourself. I think it'll come."