Cam Bedrosian’s fastball hummed in the mid-90s when he was in high school. The son of a former
A month after he signed for more than $1 million, his arm began to hurt. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery the following spring and pitched only 12 innings in his first two professional seasons. When he returned, he couldn't throw the curveball anymore, for reasons he still does not understand. He was still a starting pitcher, but one without any steady secondary offerings, and thus a failing one.
The Angels moved the right-hander to the bullpen the next season, 2013, and he reverted to an old slider grip his father, Steve Bedrosian, taught him in high school. He often failed to throw it where he sought, which produced good and bad results. For three years running, Bedrosian both struck out and walked a dizzying number of hitters. His major league stints were dispiriting. He had a 5.81 earned-run average in 51 appearances.
Then, fighting to make the opening-day roster last spring, Bedrosian decided to change his routine. Rather than warming up by mixing a few sliders in with his firm fastball, he made the breaking ball a focus. Every day he played catch, and after his normal routine he'd add a session of 20 consecutive sliders, always aiming to hit the receiver in the chest.
"That was really where it all began," he said.
He struck out 17 men in 11 Cactus League innings, sneaked onto the squad, and then pitched like one of baseball's best relievers for four months while using the slider more than ever before. Over 40 1/3 innings, he struck out 55 and walked 14, his command finally in check. He permitted only four extra-base hits. His ERA was 1.12.
He threw the slider 32% of the time, up from 19% in his rookie season. Hitters slugged .182 against it, down from .595 in 2015. His fastball performed about the same as it always had; the slider was the key reason his results turned.
"As far as mastering it, understanding it and making it functional, it took some time for Cam," Angels Manager
In August, just as he rose to become the club's closer, Bedrosian told a trainer his right middle finger was hurting. He soon went on the disabled list with what was called tendinitis. Three weeks later, he was diagnosed with a blood clot in a small artery near his right armpit. On Sept. 6, he had surgery to mend it, and that ended his season.
For about a month thereafter, he did nothing. For the subsequent month, he rehabilitated the injury. And then he resumed a normal off-season.
Now 25, Bedrosian is competing to close again in 2017, and he gained the advantage when incumbent
One likely effect worth noting: If Bedrosian spends the entire season in the majors, he should qualify to begin arbitration in 2018 as a “Super Two,” one of the annual crop of players who earn the right to go through the process four times. At the expense of rationality,
It's particularly important to record saves before the first year of arbitration, when each player's precedent is set. So even one full season as the Angels' closer would make Bedrosian millions more over the next four years.
If he is saving games, he'll be doing it with the fastball-slider combination, nothing more. He once threw the curveball, a cutter and a two-seamer. Most recently, he regularly employed a changeup. No more.
"He doesn't need it," Scioscia said.
Left-hander John Lamb said he will fly to Los Angeles on Monday for a visit with Dr. Robert Watkins, a back specialist. Lamb underwent surgery to repair a herniated lumbar disk in October and has not thrown a baseball since. He could be cleared to begin a throwing program next week. … Infielder