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Osich reverts to delivery he used as rookie

Giants reliever has regained effectiveness this spring
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Josh Osich reached into his past to grab a handful of excellence.

The reliever has remained among the team's most promising performers this spring, pitching 8 1/3 shutout innings in seven games. After averaging 5.6 walks per nine innings last season, Osich has struck out 10 batters while issuing one walk this spring.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Josh Osich reached into his past to grab a handful of excellence.

The reliever has remained among the team's most promising performers this spring, pitching 8 1/3 shutout innings in seven games. After averaging 5.6 walks per nine innings last season, Osich has struck out 10 batters while issuing one walk this spring.

"I think he feels like it's his time to make a big impact on this team," Giants pitching coach Curt Young said Tuesday.

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This is the same Osich who recorded a 1.1 WHIP, a 2.20 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings spanning 35 appearances as a rookie in 2015. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said recently that he would confidently defy percentages and use Osich against right-handed batters in crucial situations. Osich also gives the Giants a much-needed alternative to Tony Watson, whose stamina they hope to preserve throughout the season.

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"If he does what he's doing this spring, I don't see why he can't be a dominant back-end bullpen guy. He has the ability to do it," said former setup artist Jeremy Affeldt, who's in camp to help tutor San Francisco's relievers.

That ability lay mostly dormant in 2016-17, when Osich posted a 5.54 ERA and a 1.569 WHIP while averaging 5.2 walks per nine innings.

Osich hastened his renaissance by reverting to his 2015 habits. He has shelved his curveball, enabling him to focus more sharply on the remaining pitches at his disposal -- his fastball, changeup and cutter.

"I saw what I did in 2015, and I thought I pitched pretty well then," Osich said. "Why not go back to it?"

Osich also resumed holding his hands closer to head-high at the beginning of his pitching motion, contrasting with the lower point of origin that he employed in 2016-17.

"That's all a timing thing," said Osich, explaining that he tried to accelerate his delivery following his rookie season.

Recapturing the past came easily to Osich, who estimated that he spent two to four weeks watching videos of himself to study his previous form.

"I did that my whole life and tried to change it in '16 and '17," he said. "It was kind of easy to go back to what I already knew."

Young, who's beginning his first season with the Giants, sensed the need to maintain a hands-off approach with Osich.

"I just wanted to make sure he was comfortable with what he was doing," Young said.

Osich acknowledged feeling as if Giants decision-makers were challenging him when the club signed Watson, an accomplished veteran, to a two-year contract shortly after camp opened.

"Oh, sure. there's always competition in Spring Training," Osich said. "Everybody here's competing against each other, since there's only 25 spots on the roster. There's a reason why they bring 60 guys in."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Josh Osich