Arizona Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz put forth a great effort last season, but is determined to be even better in 2013. To do this, he has decided to bring back one of his old pitches and add it to his repertoire for the upcoming season.
The right-hander has been working on his slider in Spring Training and is hoping that he will be able to use it with success once again. Putz utilized the slider as a third pitch along with his fastball and splitter when he played for the Seattle Mariners, but stopped using it after undergoing elbow surgery in 2009. He was simply afraid the throwing motion would cause harm to his surgically repaired arm.
“I haven’t thrown it a lot (with the Diamondbacks),” he said, according to Yahoo! Sports. “After my surgery, I didn’t really throw it a whole lot. My arm feels good enough to start throwing it again. Starting messing with it a little bit last year and kind of made it a priority this year. It’s not a cutter. It is not a cutter.”
Putz utilized the slider with plenty of success during the 2006-07 season, in which he posted a 10-2 record with 76 saves and 186 strikeouts. The choice to stop throwing the slider has been a difficult one, especially since he pitched lights out when it was a part of his arsenal. However, to improve on his impressive tenure with the Diamondbacks and blow teams away in a contract year, the slider once must again become a part of his repertoire.
The 36-year-old used the cutter for about eight weeks last season, but left it in the bag once he realized the pitch was messing with his pitching mechanics. The slider is very similar to the cutter in that Putz typically uses it against only right-handed batters, but it carries a little more break.
Putz has been overthrowing the slider in camp to make sure he gains confidence in the pitch once again. It will be interesting to see how it affects his game for the 2013 MLB season.