Until further notice, Jake Petricka will have to settle for featuring a hard sinker, changeup and the occasional so-so slider, the same package that worked well for him as a White Sox rookie in 2014 to post a 2.96 ERA and 14 saves.
In the offseason, the 26-year-old right-hander wanted more, so he started working on a harder slider. But he says he pushed it a little too hard, too soon during spring training, and that’s what eventually put him on the disabled list with a forearm strain to open the season.
“In the spring I was working on it, wanting it to be more of a dominant pitch,’’ Petricka said, “and the way I was going about it I was putting too much stress on that whole forearm muscle and elbow area and eventually had a little setback.’’
Petricka, who is being counted on as an important bullpen piece from the right side, came off the DL Monday and made his first appearance Wednesday, pitching a scoreless ninth inning in a 6-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. According to Brooks Baseball, Petricka threw 16 sinkers, two changeups and no sliders. He struggled at times with his command, throwing nine of his 18 pitches for strikes and walking one and allowing a single, but he ended the game with a double play.
“That was the mechanics,” Petricka said. “Just last year I noticed my arm was a little too high. I maybe got back to that last night. Small fixes.”Petricka said Thursday that he felt fine the day after.“You live and learn and go from there,’’ he said of the injury. “I’ll use [the slider] like I did last year [on about 12 percent of his pitches]. I was trying to make it into a No. 2 pitch when my changeup was just fine as the No. 2. I was trying to maybe have three dominant pitches. Some day it will happen, I guess not right now.’’