Wednesday wrapup: So, about that Porcello slider …
Rick Porcello spent the weeks leading into Spring Training working on a slider. That was the story once the trade rumors on Porcello died down in late January. It was a mechanical adjustment that could help his overall command, but especially his slider.
Two starts into his Spring Training, Porcello has thrown opponents and pundits a curveball. But he has not thrown very many sliders. On Wednesday, he didn’t throw any sliders.
At this point, the curveball seems to be a bigger pitch for him. And if he’s going to concentrate on one breaking ball, it wouldn’t bode well for the slider.
“Right now, I’m just working on one breaking ball,” Porcello said after Wednesday’s outing, “just working on getting the command of one and establishing that, and we’ll go from there.”
When Porcello made his previous start, his former catcher sounded like Porcello would be better off picking one and moving on.
“He’ll have it for three or four starts,” Gerald Laird said of the slider, “and then he won’t have it. And I just think it’s more of having it all the time, or having it where he has confidence in throwing it all the time. He goes back from the curveball to the slider, slider to curveball, and I think if he just picks one and masters it, if he can get that third pitch really working, he’s got everything it takes.”
Laird, for one, liked the curveball, and it might not be a coincidence that Porcello used the curve more last year than he did in 2011. At 3.7 percent of his total pitches, according to Fangraphs, it was his highest percentage of curveball use since his rookie season in 2009, when Laird was also his catcher.
The thought process all along was that a slider would complement his sinker well, but the numbers when hitters got to it last year were not good. When hitters put the slider in play, it led to a hit nearly half the time, according to STATS. Yet the swing-and-miss rate were nearly the same between the two pitches.
Of course, Porcello has been working on a different slider. Whether and when he starts to use it remains to be seen.
Other notes from Wednesday’s Tigers loss to the Braves …
- As written in the notes on the site, Quintin Berry underwent an MRI exam and x-rays Wednesday after being scratched from the starting lineup again with left knee soreness. Tests and an examination from Dr. Sal Montenegro confirmed the diagnosis of tendinitis where his left knee patella meets the quadriceps. He’ll get treatment for the next few days before he’s re-evaluated. So the Tigers will be down another outfielder for the near future.
- Miguel Cabrera said he’ll be leaving camp Saturday to join Team Venezuela in Jupiter, Fla. to train for the World Baseball Classic. Leyland said Cabrera will play Saturday in the home end of the split-squad games before leaving, as will Omar Infante.
- Leyland spent his postgame session praising Tyler Collins’ ability to pick up the pitch out of the pitcher’s hand quickly. “I really like him a lot,” Leyland said. “I think he’s a very good-looking prospect. He’s an interesting guy.”
- If you were waiting for somebody to credit Kenny Rogers’ instructional work in this camp, Leyland mentioned it Wednesday in regards to a Phil Coke pickoff play. Coke pointed to the dugout when he did it, seemingly trying to make a point. “That’s just Kenny Rogers stuff,” Leyland explained. “Cokey just saw something himself. Cokey gets excitable, you know. It doesn’t have to be the Fourth of July for him to get excited.”