Frieri hopes to change up his arsenal
TEMPE, Ariz. -- So, what will be Ernesto Frieri's secondary pitch du jour this spring?
"I have a nasty changeup that nobody's going to touch," the Angels' amicable closer said with a big smile. "You'll see."
Get Frieri going about his changeup, and he'll list off the three batters he struck out with it in 2013: A's shortstop Jed Lowrie, Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.
He remembers this, because he's still kicking himself for not having the confidence to use it more often.
"The few times I threw changeups, I remember how bad hitters looked," Frieri said in Spanish.
"I'm always going to pitch with my fastball. But if I can throw an offspeed pitch that looks like the fastball coming out of my hand, it's only going to play up my fastball. I want to put it in other hitters' minds that it's not only the fastball that's coming."
Frieri had that mindset last spring, but he came into camp trying to master a cutter that never really worked out, then approached the ensuing season the same way he has approached every other: By relying too heavily on his lively fastball.
In 2013, while posting a 3.80 ERA and converting 37 of 41 saves, Frieri threw 88 percent fastballs, 10 percent cutters and two percent changeups. In 2012, while posting a 2.32 ERA and converting 23 of 26 saves, it was 86 percent fastballs, seven percent sliders and seven percent curveballs.
Every spring, he tries to implement a secondary pitch. But when the games start counting, and survival mode kicks in, Frieri always reverts back to the fastball that hitters may start to figure out if he continues to be a one-pitch reliever.
He hopes to change that up, so to speak.
"I feel more confident in throwing it," Frieri said of his changeup. "What I want to see now is the reaction from the hitters. Hitters are the ones who tell you if the pitch is good or bad. And that's what Spring Training is for.
"This spring, I'm going to work on it a lot to see what the reaction from hitters is. If it's good, get ready for the season -- changeups for everybody."