Bell determined to add changeup to mix
Padres closer using spring games to integrate third pitch
PEORIA, Ariz. -- According to Fangraphs, Padres closer Heath Bell used his changeup all of 1 percent of the time in 2009.
Bell, who almost exclusively relies on his fastball and curveball, said on Wednesday the 1 percent figure might actually be a bit generous.
"I threw it four times," Bell said. "It was where I wanted it to go, but it was four times."
Bell certainly didn't suffer much from not having a true third pitch to use. He led the National League in saves (42) on his way to making his first All-Star Game appearance.
Bell said he will throw at least one changeup during Thursday's charity game against the Seattle Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex. Bell is scheduled to work one inning. He'll do so again on Sunday.
He said the changeup was a pitch he wanted to work on last spring, but his involvement with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic prevented that. Instead, Bell used his fastball-curveball combination during the season.
This spring, Bell said he's been more determined to work on the pitch and actually use it more in games.
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"I want to be able to throw it more than four times. I think I need a third pitch, especially when I'm facing a team for the second or third day in a row, or when I face them a lot," Bell said.
The biggest question for Bell this season isn't how often he'll use the changeup but when. Pitching is all about setting up hitters for the next pitch. Attempting to figure out when to mix in the changeup isn't as easy as just throwing it.
"I think the changeup will be there for me," Bell said. "I feel like I can throw it in and out. I've talked to [manager Bud Black] Buddy and [pitching coach Darren Balsley] about it. Now we've just got to figure out when to use it."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.