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OAKLAND – A’s reliever Sean Doolittle has tinkered with the grip on his slider, and the lefty thinks it’s now a more effective secondary pitch to complement his fastball.
The change is a subtle one.
“We found something a lot closer to my four-seam fastball grip -- set it and forget it,” Doolittle said. “It’s something we’ve worked in the last several outings and I’ve had success and I’m gaining confidence in it.”
Pitching coach Curt Young said he likes the revamped pitch because it acts more like a cutter – running in on right-handers and away from lefties -- and less like a traditional breaking ball.
“It’s more like his fastball, with late action on it,” Young said.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Doolittle was blowing his mid-90’s fastball by hitters Saturday night against Washington, when he threw two shutout innings and struck out three to get the victory.
His fastball has been such a weapon for him since he joined Oakland’s bullpen in 2012, but when he gets predictable with the pitch, that’s when hitters have put good wood on it.
“It’s kind of no secret that the whole slider thing has been a work in progress since I got here,” Doolittle said. “I felt like coming into this year that it would be really important for me to make adjustments to the adjustments that hitters were making on me. It’s been an ongoing process.”
Doolittle also is working on a changeup that times is effective, at times not. As Young mentioned, he’s not about to get beat with his third pitch. So having trust in his slider is important to accompany his fastball.
“His M.O. is he’s a fastball pitcher. He moves it around in the zone really well,” Young said. “Any time you can change speeds, you’re gonna disrupt timing. As time goes on, he knows he has to make some adjustments. This is his adjustment -- come up with a great breaking ball that gets them off his fastball.”
Notes: Coco Crisp took batting practice from the right side, but his strained neck still bothers him when swinging from the left side. He remains day to day.