PHOENIX -- There may be something to this whole arm-slot business.
Rehabbing starter Brandon Webb credited his recent progress -- he threw off the mound Saturday for the first time in 100 days -- to correcting his delivery angle, and recently called-up reliever Blaine Boyer said his was way too high during his early-season struggles.
Boyer, whose contract was selected Tuesday when the D-backs designated reliever Saul Rivera for assignment, was a key member of Arizona's bullpen entering the season. Then, thanks to issues with his command, he went 1-2 with a 7.82 ERA in 14 games and was outrighted to Triple-A Reno.
"My time down there in Reno was outstanding; unbelievable coaching staff," Boyer said. "I just constantly worked on throwing strikes."
Specifically, Boyer partnered with Aces pitching coach Mike Parrott on a four-step process that "Bird," as his pupils call him, also taught to former D-backs reliever Jose Valverde.
Step 1: Field a ground ball, immediately turn around and, without thinking, throw it against the wall. Repeat this about 20 times.
Step 2: While holding a small hand towel, progress through your windup retaining the same throwing motion that came naturally in the first step.
Step 3: Repeat said throwing motion throughout a bullpen session.
Step 4: Do it in the game.
And that's just what the 28-year-old Boyer did. In five appearances (six innings) for Reno following his demotion, the right-hander went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and two saves. More significantly, he walked just one and struck out nine.
"Last year, even when I would not throw a ball right, I still had good run to it, and it was somewhere in the zone," Boyer said of his two-seam heater. "Compared to this year, it's just been where ... there was really no rhyme of reason to why I was missing. So I knew it was an arm-slot issue. Trying to find it was what I needed to do. I was able to take a deep breath and find it down there, and come back up [to the Majors]."