McCutchen experimenting with new delivery

McCutchen experimenting with new delivery

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Following right-hander Daniel McCutchen's most recent outing last Thursday, the coaching staff approached him with an intriguing idea -- revamp his entire delivery.

Instead of the traditional over-the-top throwing motion he has used his entire career, they wanted the 30-year-old reliever to drop his arm slot lower. McCutchen, a non-roster invite, tested out the delivery -- an almost three-quarters style motion -- for the first time in Tuesday's intrasquad game.

He hit one batter, walked another and threw a wild pitch, but that's almost to be expected when debuting a new delivery designed to produce more movement on his pitches.

"I tried it out and I like it so far," McCutchen said. "I'm getting a lot of movement on the ball. It feels pretty natural. I'm still in the early stages of it, but we talked about it and I said I'd give it a try. I've been excited about it so far."

The move is a surprise of sorts, considering McCutchen had turned in three consecutive scoreless appearances to start the spring before allowing five runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings last Thursday.

He's also proven to be a capable reliever at times throughout his career. In 2011, McCutchen spent the entire season in the Majors, going 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 73 appearances for the Pirates. He returned to Triple-A Indianapolis last season, but turned in a solid 2.89 ERA to go along with a 7-2 record in 37 outings.

"It's not like I'm struggling and have to make a change," McCutchen said. "But it's just something that I really think can take me up to the next level where I can stop being the fringe Triple-A/big league guy. That's what everyone in Triple-A wants to have -- a solidified spot in the big leagues. We'll see if this can be my niche."

McCutchen plans to continue developing the revamped delivery Thursday in a bullpen session and -- assuming all goes well -- could put it on display in game action as soon as this weekend. The final decision on when he'll take the mound in a Grapefruit League game will come from pitching coach Rick Adair.

"He's got great make-up, that's obvious," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's kind of like R.A. Dickey [developing the knuckleball] -- he's looking for a new weapon, a new toy so to speak. And he's got all of the attributes you look for in a guy that can do that."

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.