Padres pitcher Mark Thurmond feels as though he really has a grip on things nowadays.
Just one look at his new slider will tell you why.
Thurmond was warming up earlier this spring when pitcher Dave Dravecky said, “Show him, Jack.” Dravecky was asking Jack Lamabe, the Padres’ Triple-A pitching coach, to show Thurmond a new grip for his slider.
The results show that Thurmond definitely has a handle on the pitch.
In 29 innings this spring, he has an ERA of 1.86. He allowed one unearned on three hits in six innings Wednesday against the Angels, increasing his two-game streak to 12 innings without giving up an earned run.
When Thurmond discusses his success, he makes certain not to let Lamabe’s advice slide.
“Jack showed me how to grip the slider more like a fastball,” Thurmond said. “If I made a mistake with the pitch before, it usually ended up in the cheap seats. Plus, this pitch has helped me strike out a lot of guys. Fourteen of my 19 strikeouts have been on the new pitch. It definitely gives me a third pitch I can go to.”
Before this spring, Thurmond relied primarily on what he termed a cut fastball and changeup screwball.
“You have to have at least two pitches,” Thurmond said. “A third pitch gives you another thing to keep hitters off balance. If you have two pitches, the batter can sit on one pitch and have a 50% chance of being right. If you have three pitches, the odds are more in your favor.”
The Padres defeated the Angels, 6-5, before 5,224 fans at Jack Murphy Stadium Wednesday night.
San Diego had 12 hits, two apiece by Bip Roberts, Steve Garvey, Carmelo Martinez and Garry Templeton. Roberts, who will be the leadoff batter on opening day, demonstrated his speed in the fourth by executing a bunt single and stealing second.
Tim Stoddard had a tough seventh-inning in relief of Thurmond, allowing four runs on four hits. Brian Downing capped the inning with a two-run homer deep into the left-field stands.
Center fielder Kevin McReynolds made the defensive play of the game with a sliding catch on Gary Pettis in the second.
The Padres will play San Diego State at 7:05 tonight in the stadium. Eric Show and Dave Dravecky will pitch.
After an off day Friday, the Padres play Minnesota Saturday and Sunday in Las Vegas. Opening day is Monday in Los Angeles.
The Angels have expressed an interest in acquiring relief pitcher Terry Forster, General Manager Mike Port said Wednesday. Forster was among four veteran pitchers released Tuesday by Atlanta.
Port had a conversation Wednesday morning with Forster’s agent, Mark Polan. According to Port, he will “try to maintain a line of communication” with Polan.