DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are looking for two things from Joe Biagini this spring: Consistent mechanics and increased tempo between pitches.Biagini spent most of last season pitching out of the stretch, because he wasn't comfortable in a windup position. That worked fine enough as a reliever, but with
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are looking for two things from Joe Biagini this spring: Consistent mechanics and increased tempo between pitches.
Biagini spent most of last season pitching out of the stretch, because he wasn't comfortable in a windup position. That worked fine enough as a reliever, but with the goal of him eventually starting full-time, the Blue Jays felt like something had to change.
Toronto's right-hander removed some of the long pauses and funky hitches in his delivery during the offseason. During Toronto's 2-1 victory over the Phillies on Friday afternoon, Biagini unveiled the new mechanics, which involve fewer moving parts.
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"I think the art of simplifying is a way to kind of help that," Biagini said. "I worked in the offseason trying to make things a little bit more streamlined, especially with my windup. I had a couple of checks in my windup last year that helped me get into the right posture, but this year I worked on a way within the natural setup. I don't need those movements anymore, and I think that kind of helps."
Biagini had two stints as a starter last season. During his first go-round from May to early July, he didn't really pitch out of the windup much at all. Between stints, he was sent to the Minors, where he tried to work on a new delivery. But when he returned in late August, it was clear most of the progress would have to take place through the offseason and spring.
The most noticeable difference since then is that Biagini no longer does a quick bounce with both of his knees as he moves into the set position. Fans used to joke about how Biagini would wiggle his backside before every pitch, but now he just gets the ball, raises both hands, gets a grip on the baseball and moves into his delivery.
A quicker pace is also something the Blue Jays have been trying to emphasize, because in the past, Biagini took way too much time between pitches. He would catch the ball, walk around, pull at his jersey, take some time adjusting his feet on the mound and then move into a set position. This year, the Blue Jays are trying to keep Biagini on the rubber and put him in a position to be ready much faster.
"I see things that I want to continue to improve on that take time," Biagini said. "The simplification of the stretch, I'm starting a little bit more upright in the stretch, to match the position I'm in at that point of my windup.
"Then there's the hitches and things that I was doing to set myself up and the windup that I now feel, after having experienced things for awhile, now I've put myself in a better position where those aren't as necessary. I'm hoping to see that consistent release point and ability to repeat my mechanics a little bit better."
The Blue Jays aren't going to read much into one start -- let alone one that lasts two innings -- but so far, so good for Biagini. The 27-year-old, who will either open the year out of the bullpen or be sent to the Minors to start, faced the minimum six batters. Biagini struck out two and his lone hit was quickly erased on a 6-4-3 double play. Not bad for a spring debut.
"He was just really deliberate last year," manager John Gibbons said after Toronto's first win of the spring. "You never noticed it much as a reliever, but I thought he looked much better today and he threw the ball really good."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.