Slight shift on mound improves Petricka's control

White Sox reliever had moved toward first-base side; Ventura laments having to option Shuck

Slight shift on mound improves Petricka's control

CHICAGO -- An offseason experiment concerning Jake Petricka's positioning on the mound came to an end Monday during his 2 2/3 innings of relief against the Angels, covering 33 pitches, 24 for strikes.

"[White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] has always been talking about, with a sinker guy to be able to get that inside to a lefty or outside to a righty more consistently, throwing from the first base side is easier to hit that corner," the White Sox reliever said before Tuesday's 5-0 win. "So I gave that a try.

"I did well in spring with it. Once the lights got going, I got back to my little more getting after it. I was just pulling balls a little too much off. So then we kind of talked that if you move over six inches, those pitches that are just missing all of a sudden are in the strike zone. It was as simple as that."

Petricka allowed one run on three hits Monday, but did not issue a walk. In his first four games, the right-hander struck out five, but also walked five.

"I was getting strikeouts out of it, but it wasn't the way I wanted to pitch," Petricka said. "It's not a fun way to pitch when you are walking hitters every time you go out there. That's where we just went back to the basics of get to the center of the rubber and just challenge them every pitch.

"Now let's roll with it. I'm a ground-ball pitcher. There's no question about it. I have a good ground-ball rate. I live off of double plays. That's what I'm going for. I need to be able to get double plays when I come in, not strikeouts."

Shuck moved for pitching

J.B. Shuck has done whatever asked over the past two years as a reserve White Sox outfielder and pinch-hitter. But the veteran left-handed hitter was the one optioned following Monday's game to make room Tuesday for Erik Johnson as bullpen insurance.

"That's the brutal side of baseball," said manager Robin Ventura of Shuck, who was 0-for-9 in four games. "We definitely need an arm, and he's the guy that ends up going.

"Nothing that he has done that warrants it, but you need an arm, and he becomes the guy. So hopefully he goes down and gets some at-bats and can get back up here."

Early work for struggling hitters

Some of the White Sox hitters, including Todd Frazier, took early batting practice Tuesday.

"We need it," said Ventura with a wry smile. "You like it. If you feel like you need it, you should come out here and take it.

"Sometimes you do it when it doesn't mean anything and it becomes a waste. But if you feel like you need it to get yourself mentally ready for that day, you do it."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.