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Grilli keeps air of mystery over new pitch

40-year-old throws perfect inning in spring debut
MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jason Grilli said he was working on a new weapon in his first Grapefruit League outing of the year. But, for now, he'll just call it a secret weapon.

"I don't want to reveal it," he said with a smile after pitching a perfect fourth inning, striking out two in the Blue Jays' 6-4 win against the Phillies on Thursday at Spectrum Field. "Some of the hitters don't know it yet, so I'm not going to reveal it. But it's a pitch I've been working on, and I think it's going to play well."

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jason Grilli said he was working on a new weapon in his first Grapefruit League outing of the year. But, for now, he'll just call it a secret weapon.

"I don't want to reveal it," he said with a smile after pitching a perfect fourth inning, striking out two in the Blue Jays' 6-4 win against the Phillies on Thursday at Spectrum Field. "Some of the hitters don't know it yet, so I'm not going to reveal it. But it's a pitch I've been working on, and I think it's going to play well."

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This was Grilli's first appearance because he believes he only needs eight innings of work to be ready for the regular season. Manager John Gibbons went along because he thinks Grilli, at 40, has earned the right to do it his way.

"He's been doing it for so long," Gibbons said. "The role he's in, he's been a really good reliever for a long time. It takes its toll on those guys, so they really try to conserve down here. He'll know. If he gets to the point where he thinks he needs a little bit more, he'll pitch a little bit more. But that's kind of the way he's been doing it for years."

There's actually a little more to it than that. The team has a High Performance program that sets suggested guidelines. Gibbons has his own ideas, and the players have input. Out of all that, an approach is decided on. But Grilli's success and seniority means he can do pretty much what he wants.

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That appears to include adding pitches. Even Gibbons, apparently, has been kept in the dark about that.

"I've got a few tricks up my sleeve," said Grilli, whose standard selection is fastball-slider-change. "Whether you add it or bag it, this is the time to see if it's something you can use. I was very comfortable and confident with it. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If I can add another pitch, that will make four, and if it makes me better and more effective, I'll do that.

"You limit yourself if you don't want to grow. I'm still wanting to grow. If you say you've got this game figured out, it will humble you real quick. Obviously, you have your bread and butter. The things that make you effective. Make sure that's there first. Then build off of that."

Grilli laughed when asked if, given how dominant he was in his first game, he even needed seven more innings to be ready for the regular season.

"It's the first one. Let's not get too happy," he said. "You can't ever get too complacent. But when you have outings like that and put up a zero, it sure brings on some confidence."

Paul Hagen is a contributor for MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, Jason Grilli