A starting pitcher throughout his collegiate career at the University of New Mexico, Danny Herrera has appeared in 32 games out of the bullpen for the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders this season.
With the 2007 season nearly over, Herrera says he is still adjusting to his new role.
"What has been difficult for me is going from one outing per week to two or three outings," said Herrera. "Also, I'm not getting any bullpen work or any work on the side. Whatever work I get in the game is what I have to work with. I'm still trying to totally go over to relief. It has been a little difficult but I'm still learning."
While the left-hander still prefers starting, he enjoys the intensity of entering a tight ballgame in the late innings.
"It's great to be put into different situations – ahead, behind or tied," replied the 22-year-old. "It's pretty intense as far as the situations I get thrown into. To me, it's not as enjoyable as starting, but I'll get it and do what I can with it."
Herrera currently has a 3.72 ERA in 32 appearances – 48 1/3 innings – with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders. He has surrendered 40 hits while walking 18 and striking out 57. Although Herrera is mostly pleased with his first full professional season, he feels there is room for improvement.
"I feel like it is going pretty well," said Herrera of his 2007 campaign. "I'm glad I got up here to Frisco. I'm glad that I could be a part of the bullpen and help this team win. As far as my season personally, I think I could have done better as far as ERA and walks. But for the most part, I think I've done pretty well."
The Odessa native has appeared in a total of 39 games between Bakersfield and Frisco this season. While it is easily a career high – including high school and college baseball – Herrera says his arm has never felt better.
"My arm strength has actually gotten a lot better as the season has gone on," he said. "Right now I feel like my arm is as strong as it's going to be throughout a season."
Herrera allowed 25 percent – five out of 20 – of his total earned runs with Frisco in one outing last week against the San Antonio Missions. He gave up those five earned runs on four hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings. The southpaw blamed the rough performance on a mixture of poor control and good hitting from the San Antonio bats.
"San Antonio is a good club," said the left-hander. "I think I have probably given up more runs to them than I have to all the other teams combined. My control wasn't very good and the pitches I tried to make went over the middle of the plate."
One of the advantages to working out of the bullpen is that a pitcher has the chance to get quick redemption after a poor outing. In Herrera's case, he was able to strike out a pair of hitters in a 1-2-3 inning just a few days later.
"It's a big load off my mind when I can go out and throw well again," said Herrera. "It's a big relief for me and just for my state of mind to be able to go out the next outing and do well."
Although Herrera has issued just 18 walks in 48 1/3 innings with Frisco this season, it is a high number for him. The 5-foot-8 hurler gave out only 12 free passes in 62 professional innings in 2006. Herrera is currently working toward keeping his two-seam fastball more under control.
"Mostly I'm working on my two-seam control," he said. "I've been throwing a lot more four-seam fastballs than I ever have in the past because my two-seam moves quite a bit. I don't have the control of it right now."
Shortly after the 2007 season comes to a close, Herrera will participate in the Arizona Fall League at the Rangers' minor league complex in Surprise, Arizona.
"I learned about it a week ago," said Herrera. "Our pitching coach, Terry Clark, said that me and some of the other guys are going to be in the fall league. It's really exciting for me and the other guys."
Herrera working on control
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