Thursday April 28, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m.
By Kevin T. Czerwinski
That Jacob Petricka spent a few weeks in Kannapolis at the end of last summer proved to be beneficial to the big right-hander.
Sure, spending the first half of the summer at Bristol in the Appalachian League was important. But Petricka, whom the White Sox grabbed out of Indiana State with the 63rd overall pick in last years draft, learned some valuable lessons in the 9 23 innings he pitched for the Intimidators, lessons that he has clearly applied this season in the South Atlantic League.
Petricka was 14-7 in his final two seasons at Indiana State with 28 of his 33 appearances coming as a starter. He then made eight starts at Bristol and posted a 2.86 ERA before the White Sox bumped him up to Kannapolis, where he immediately went to the bullpen. Aside from keeping Petrickas pitch count down, the move to the pen also allowed him to learn a thing or two about himself.
Relieving is definitely a different approach, said Petricka, who had a 3.72 ERA in 9 23 relief innings. I tried to overthrow way too much because I was only pitching one or two innings. When you throw too hard like that you lose control and effectiveness.
As a starter I can just relax and pitch and throw. As starter, I can pace myself and I know that now if I go back to the pen. I enjoy starting a lot but Ill do whatever they the front office ask me to do. Whatever will get me up higher quicker, thats the question.
Petricka has been pitching well as a starter through the first month of the season with Kannapolis. Hes 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts with his latest effort coming on Tuesday at Lexington. He picked up his second win in that game in what was his worst effort of the year.
He went five innings and allowed four runs on eight hits while walking a pair. Again, there were some lessons learned.
They the Legend are a team that could and I showed them some pitches and they hit them, said Petricka, who is second in the Sally League with 29 strikeouts heading into Thursdays action. I actually enjoy having a bad game here and there. It gives you the drive to work on other pitches. Hitters are catching up with your fastball so now you have to work on the off-speed pitches.
So in between starts Ill focus on keeping the ball down and throwing my off-speed pitches for strikes. Right now, Ive been throwing a changeup because its been effective. But I want to work on my slider, which is a hard, sharp pitch that will make my fastball more effective.
Dont misunderstand. Petrickas fastball has worked just fine. He opened the season with six no-hit innings at Lakewood in which he fanned nine and walked only one. He didnt factor in the decision, though.
Obviously I wanted to keep going, he said. But I hadnt gone more than four or five innings in spring training and I had already gone six. I was pretty realistic about it.
I do think pitching until you lose your effectiveness or until you get tired is the way to go. But you never train pitchers to go more than 100 pitches anymore. With the bullpens as good as they are, there is never any reason to go past 100 pitches.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.