After disastrous experiment, Orioles' Gregg going back to old mechanics

Reliever has allowed eight runs while getting just four outs since tweaking delivery

March 15, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, FLA. — — In an attempt to get more sink on his pitches, Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg and pitching coach Mark Connor tweaked the big right-hander's delivery, getting him to lean forward instead of backward as he released the ball.

It hasn't worked.

Gregg, who is projected to be the club's closer, threw four scoreless innings before the change in mechanics. In his past two outings, he has allowed eight runs in 11/3 innings.

"Tinker with one thing and it messes up another thing," Gregg said. "I know I threw the ball well early, but it was something they thought I should try to change and improve. I tried to make that adjustment a little bit, but it is throwing off some other mechanics in the midst of it. So Goose [Connor] said we'll take a step back, go back to where we were and see how that works."

The problem, Gregg said, is that by leaning forward, he was drifting to the third base side, which was keeping his pitches from moving across the plate. Of the six batters he faced in Tuesday's fifth inning, five reached base and scored — four on Brett Wallace's grand slam.

"It was the second time in a row with the pitch count [high] and everything. His stuff is in pretty good shape. His command is normal this time of year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You are not going to have hardly anybody be sharp from Day One until the end of it. That's part of it."

Gregg, too, said he's not worried about having consecutive poor performances — at least not while the games don't count.

"I've done this before when my mechanics weren't right, work on some things and get hit around a little bit because you are trying to get something done," Gregg said. "Coaches know that I am working on something, so I take the results with kind of a grain of salt."

Guthrie facing minor leaguers

Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles' expected Opening Night starter, will not face the New York Yankees on Wednesday, which would have been his regular turn in the rotation.

Instead, he'll throw in a minor league game at the Orioles' Twin Lakes Park complex against Boston Red Sox farmhands. It's a way for him to stay on turn and not face an American League East team.

Because of the way the schedule falls against AL East opponents, it's possible Guthrie will not face major leaguers again until Opening Night against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on April 1.

Fox on fire

Jake Fox was 1-for-2 with two runs Tuesday and his team-leading fifth home run of the spring in just 41 at-bats. It was his second consecutive game with a homer, and he tied Vladimir Guerrero with the team RBI lead at eight.

Fox, who is battling for the backup catcher job and possibly another reserve spot, is hitting .341.

"For a guy like me, my margin for error is really small because I am fighting against guys that have more talent than I have. I am fighting against guys that are bigger, faster, stronger," Fox said. "And I have to come out every day and be on point and have my 'A' game every day."

Around the horn

Craig Tatum, who is competing with Fox to be the backup catcher, has an intercostal muscle strain on his right side and will not play for a couple of days, Showalter said. He said the injury was mild and Tatum could play if it were the regular season. … Luke Scott doubled in the sixth inning, only his second hit in 27 at-bats this spring. His other hit came March 9 against the Minnesota Twins. … The Orioles will pitch several relievers in Wednesday's game against the Yankees instead of using a member of the rotation. Jim Johnson is likely to pitch the first inning, with Rick VandenHurk, Mark Hendrickson, Michael Gonzalez, David Riske and Clay Rapada also pitching. … MLB Network will run its hourlong Orioles segment of "30 Clubs in 30 Days" at 8 p.m. Wednesday. It will be replayed at 10 a.m. and noon Thursday.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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