Besides earning a spot on the 25-man roster, pitcher David Hernandez had two primary goals when he arrived in camp. He wanted to become more consistent with his delivery, and he wanted to begin trusting a sinking, two-seam fastball that he used sparingly late in the 2009 season.
"It wasn't a pitch that I really could go to and say, 'Yeah, I can throw this and get ground balls,'" he said.
Hernandez practiced the pitch during yesterday's bullpen session and was encouraged by the results.
"It felt pretty good. It's getting better with each side session, along with my mechanics," he said.
"For me, it's just being able to stay under control. I feel like I can do that well in the bullpen. It's just once I get in a game, the adrenaline takes over and that's where it can fall apart."
Hernandez has racked up impressive strikeout totals in the minors, often blowing his mid-90s fastball past overmatched hitters. He understands that he can't always work up in the strike zone in the majors, where he surrendered 27 home runs in 101 1/3 innings.
"For me, I feel like I can get the two-seamer down in the strike zone a lot better than I can with the four-seam," he said. "The four-seam fastball has that rising action, so it tends to wind up higher in the strike zone. You can get by with that in the big leagues, but once you start pitching up there every time you throw, the hitters will be looking for it.
"The key is, if you pound down, pound down, then come up with the four-seam fastball, it's a lot more effective."