Black Focusing On Offspeed
;

Black Focusing On Offspeed

TAMPA, FL - Right-hander Corey Black is known for his power fastball, a pitch that can run up there close to 100 mph. However, as good as he was in his debut season last year he says he's been focusing almost solely on improving his secondary pitches in Spring Training camp this year.

"It's good, it's been going really good," he said of Spring Training. "I've been working on some things with the coaching staff in really being consistent with my wind-up and slowing things down so I'm not more erratic with my offspeed pitches.

"I'm just getting more consistent with them. For it being my first Spring Training it's going great.

"It's a little slow being a pitcher just waiting around for all the BP's but it's cool, it's a different learning experience because I've never had an offseason and getting my arm back into shape. It's different but I'm getting used to it."

A former shortstop and third baseman in college, Black has never really had the opportunity to work extensively on his breaking pitches or his changeup much, and he says he really isn't favoring any one of the secondary pitches right now.

"No, not really," he admitted. "I'm just throwing them for more strikes early in the count and pretty much being able to throw them whenever I feel like it.

"If I get behind 2-0 or 2-1 I'm throwing a lot of sliders or curveballs and I feel really confident with offspeed right now. I can pretty much throw any pitch in any count right now."

That's the good news -- he'll go to any pitch in any count. However, because so much of his attention the past couple of months has been spent on improving his secondary pitches and control, that has left his normally reliable fastball a little bit behind as camp draws to an end.

"I think because I've been working so hard on my offspeed control that my fastball is a little more all over the plate," he said. "It's not finishing my pitches.

"When I had a walk [the other day] it was on four straight fastballs and they were all high and away to a lefty so it's just not finishing pitches. I came back though and it felt better. The fastball right now is just not hitting corners as well as I did last year."

It's not just the fastball control that's a little off either. The power in his fastball isn't quite where it was with the Yankees last season but Black says that's to be expected in what is still the infancy stage of his professional career.

"Just getting my stamina up and I know my fastball velocity hasn't been there yet," he said of his remaining goal in camp. "It's just different because I've never had an offseason before.

"I played college ball and then you went right into summer ball so I'm getting used to the whole three to four months off and get back into it.

"My arm is getting stronger and stronger everyday. I'm just looking forward to getting that velocity back up and getting that stamina up."

He is less than worried about his fastball right now. In fact, he can't help but be excited about the prospects of his improved secondary pitches meshing in with what should be a return to his plus fastball soon, especially on the heels of his debut season a year ago.

"Oh I can't wait, especially with being able to throw offspeed earlier in counts. I feel like it's going to be a really good year especially with the new slider I started in my last couple of starts last year.

"It's really helped me and a couple of batters that I've faced have said they can't pick up the spin on the slider. It's almost like a cutter at this point but every once in a while I'll get a little more break when I need to," he concluded.

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

Become an annual subscriber today!