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Freeman develops change as primary offspeed pitch

JUPITER, Fla. -- Sam Freeman is still hopeful of breaking camp with the Major League team, but he's just as focused on leaving Spring Training armed with an effective changeup.

Freeman wants his changeup -- a pitch the lefty reliever started throwing as a sophomore in high school -- to replace the slider as his primary offspeed pitch. Not that Freeman has thrown the slider much in recent years, either. He has become fastball-dependent, something he knows has to change if he wants to get a sustained opportunity to pitch in the Majors.

"I want to be as confident with that pitch as I am with my fastball," Freeman said of his changeup. "It's a matter of getting the feel for it and trusting [catcher] Yadi [Molina] to know when it's the perfect time to use it."

Freeman's chances of making his way back to St. Louis will hinge largely on consistency -- and not just of the changeup. He continues to seek a repeatable delivery, something that has been made easier since reducing his leg kick and going to a slide-step motion.

Then there's fastball command and focus, the two being related. It was a lack of focus on Wednesday, Freeman said, that led to him walking Minnesota's Chris Colabello on four pitches.

In 6 1/3 spring innings, Freeman has allowed two runs on six hits and four walks. He has seven strikeouts.

"It's been OK," Freeman said of those Grapefruit League results. "Obviously, the walks have been something that have followed me throughout my career. I'm working to improve that. The next step is just getting more fishing with the fastball. I need to attack with that."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
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