In his second start of the Spring on Tuesday afternoon in West Palm Beach, Washington Nationals’ right-hander Joe Ross gave up three hits and two runs, both of them on first inning solo home runs, and went 2 2⁄3 innings overall in what ended up a 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.
Ross struck out three of the twelve batters he faced and talked to reporters after the outing about what he was working on early in Grapefruit League action.
“Trying to work more on my four-seam a little bit,” Ross explained, “which, I threw a couple in the first inning that I definitely yanked.
“It was kind of tough trying to put that into a game for once and then immediately didn’t quite see the results I was looking for.”
Ross, 23, has thrown a four-seam fastball just 2.7% of the time over his first two major league seasons, relying mostly on his sinker (52.6%) and slider (38.6%), while trying to work on his changeup (7.2%). That third pitch to complement his sinker/slider arsenal is something the 2011 1st Round pick has been working to find.
“When you’re working with two pitches, they can kind of see what you’re doing,” Ross told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Pete Kerzel, after Tuesday’s start.
“I think the changeup and the four-seamer are definitely going to be key attributes for deeper outings, hopefully,” Ross added.
He understands, however, that things might not always go smoothly as he tries things out against big league hitters.
“That’s all part of the process,” Ross said. “If I could be throwing them in the bullpen, I’ll be throwing them in the next couple games.
“It’s just one of the few things I’ve got going. Trying to utilize the four-seam so I can not rely so much on the sinker throughout the game.”
It’s not all Ross has been working on, however, or needs to improve. He said he was off-balance at times, flying open and not, “... quite getting quite all the way to my balance point, my load, on some of the pitches.”
“When he’s out there, he’s working on a couple things,” Nationals’ Pitching Coach Mike Maddux said during an in-game interview on MASN’s broadcast, “and he’s got a couple inconsistencies in his delivery right now that we’ve got to touch up on the side.”