Yates adds change, cutter to arsenal

Tyler Yates (left) after throwing bp today
Tyler Yates (left) after throwing bp today

BRADENTON, Fla. — Early in his career, Tyler Yates threw a changeup, four-seamer and slider. But when a coach told him he only needed two pitches to work out of the bullpen, Yates junked the changeup.

Over the past few months, as he rehabbed from his second Tommy John surgery, Yates rediscovered his changeup.

“I think I’ve learned by watching other pitchers with less stuff than I have get people out and I’m like, ‘How do they do it?’ ” Yates said. “You start watching them and you see that they sink the ball a little bit more, cut the ball a little bit more, change speeds better. It’s something that I’d like to add to my repertoire, so I won’t have to throw the ball 96 mph every time out there.”

In addition to a changeup, Yates is trying to add a cutter. That would give him five pitches, including the fastball, sinker and slider.

“If I can add (the change and cutter), it would give me longevity in my career,” he said. “At 33 years old, I’m trying to get everything I can out of it.”

Today, Yates threw live batting practice on Field 2. After sitting out since May 2009 due to elbow injuries, he is eager to face hitters in a Grapefruit League game. That’s when his battle to regain a bullpen job will begin in earnest.

“First couple games, I’ll be a little nervous and excited,” he said. “But after that, hopefully, I’ll kick right back into the flow of things and do my thing. Hopefully, that’s enough to impress them so I can make the team.”

I’ll have more on Yates’ comeback attempt in tomorrow’s Trib.

»»» Owner Bob Nutting will speak during a team meeting Monday morning. He will be in town until March 7, a few days longer than in previous years.

»»» Sixteen pitchers threw live batting practice. On Field 1, Charlie Morton and Tony Watson faced Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez. Jeff Karstens and Chris Resop were on Field 2 against Garrett Jones and Neil Walker. Brad Lincoln, Chris Leroux, Brian Burres, Daniel McCutchen, Sean Gallagher, Cesar Valdez, Dan Moskos, Yates, Justin Thomas, Ramon Aguero, Fernando Nieve and Bryan Morris also threw.

»»» At the end of the day, position players finished with a baserunning drill. They sprinted to first, as if on a single, then went station to station around the bases. Then they went to second as if on a double and back home, then to third as if on a triple and home.