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Change for the better: Barrett ready for playoffs

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Aaron Barrett is an integral part of the Nationals' bullpen, able to pitch anywhere from the sixth to the eighth inning. And in his first year in the big leagues, Barrett, 26, is pleased to be participating in the postseason.

"It's pretty cool to be part of this special group, trying to contribute any way possible," Barrett said.

Barrett hit a rough patch in July and was sent to the Minor Leagues in August. He spent a month with Triple-A Syracuse, where he worked on his throwing motion and received some rest.

On July 1 against the Rockies, Barrett's unique motion was magnified when he was called for a balk while facing Justin Morneau. Barrett was forced to change tactics in the middle of the inning, removing the hitch from his routine, and he went into a slump after that, allowing six runs in his next 5 2/3 innings before he was sent down.

Barrett acknowledged that he was upset when he was sent to Syracuse, but he looks at his time there as a blessing in disguise. While he was with the Chiefs, he started throwing a changeup, a pitch he didn't throw in the big leagues. Barrett didn't think he should get beat with his third-best pitch. With help from pitching coach Paul Menhart, Barrett tweaked the grip and started throwing the changeup in Minor League games.

When Barrett returned to the big leagues in September, the changeup gave him a new weapon, especially against left-handers. Since his return to the Majors, Barrett hasn't allowed a run in seven innings.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
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