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OC Register: Angels’ Cam Bedrosian, looking for a change, is working on a new pitch

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TEMPE, Ariz. –  When Angels pitcher Cam Bedrosian takes the mound Sunday against the Oakland A’s, he’ll try mixing in a split-fingered fastball.

The pitch was born last year out of necessity and opportunity. Having relied on a fastball and slider throughout his career, Bedrosian saw the velocity of each pitch fall from 2017 to 2018 – his heater by 2 mph, his slider by 1. His swinging-strike rate plunged from 12.9 percent to 8.1 percent. His arsenal needed a new weapon.

The 2018 Angels employed several pitchers already familiar with the splitter, including Shohei Ohtani, Nick Tropeano, Oliver Drake and Blake Parker. Bedrosian took advantage of his idle time in the bullpen to pick their brains when he could.

“Over the past year I talked with them, how they throw theirs, their philosophies around them,” Bedrosian said. “Pretty much all of them are different – different grips, different thinking behind the pitch. It’s good. I’m getting different philosophies around it, figuring out what’s going to work best for me.”

Bedrosian’s father, Steve, threw a forkball during his 14-year major league career. To throw a “true forkball,” a pitcher wraps his index and middle fingers around either side of the baseball, at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. Thrown correctly, the pitch has a pronounced knuckling effect.

But the forkball isn’t an option for most pitchers, including the younger Bedrosian. It demands massive hands and long, broadly separable fingers. The splitter grip is similar but more accessible. Thrown correctly, its knuckle effect is less pronounced than a forkball but more than a changeup.

“I’m kind of in the early stages of experimenting with grips and figuring it out,” Bedrosian said.

Tempe Diablo Stadium is littered with pitch tracking technology. The Rapsodo and Edgertronic devices are popular pitch design tools, but Bedrosian said he isn’t ready for them yet. For now he’s content with the trial and error process – “try different grips, different thinking behind the ball, what I want to do with the ball, what time of the delivery.” He hopes to get there by Opening Day.

Ohtani is watching.

“I saw him giving up a hit [on a splitter] the other day,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, smiling. “I know he’s trying to learn it this year. In the beginning it’s going to be tough but if he keeps working on it, I think it’ll be good.”


Matt Harvey recorded his first five outs of spring training in a “B” game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Harvey faced six batters, walked one, struck out three, and threw 17 strikes among his 29 pitches.

The right-hander didn’t throw for three days early in camp after straining a gluteal muscle. Saturday’s game, which doesn’t count toward a player’s Cactus League stats, was played on a back field among mostly Triple-A players.

Harvey was encouraged by his results. His fastball clocked in the low 90s. Two of his strikeouts came via changeups running in against right-handed hitters.

“That’s something I’ve been working on the last couple years, really, and it’s been a pretty effective pitch for me,” Harvey said. “To have that right now this early is pretty good.”

Jonathan Lucroy caught for Harvey. He also hit a home run against Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke in his first plate appearance. After catching Harvey’s bullpen sessions, Lucroy liked what he saw in the “B” game.

“Not only does he have that (slider), but he has his curveball and his changeup, too,” Lucroy said. “Any time you have a lot of off-speed pitches you can go to that you can throw for a strike when behind in the count or expand ahead in the count, it’s great. That’s just going to make his fastball more effective.”

Albert Pujols went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts and a flyout in the “B” game. Noe Ramirez, Ty Buttrey and Kaleb Cowart also pitched for the Angels.


Ohtani wasn’t feeling brave enough to guess when he’ll return to the Angels’ lineup. He was, at least, encouraged after taking swings against soft underhand tosses for the second straight day.

“The biggest thing is I’m just checking that I don’t feel any pain or discomfort in my elbow,” he said. “That’s the main focus.”

Pain-free after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October, Ohtani said he took 15 swings off a batting tee, followed by 20 soft-toss pitches. The next step in his rehab is to hit against a coach throwing overhand. Ohtani said he doesn’t know when that work will begin.

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