Hammel focused on attacking in strike zone

Hammel focused on attacking in strike zone

KANSAS CITY -- The focus for Royals right-hander Jason Hammel in Wednesday's side session leading into his next start on Friday was to work on being more aggressive.

Hammel (0-3, 6.65 ERA) has left his past two starts before completing the fourth inning, mainly because of elevated pitch counts. Hammel threw 77 pitches in three-plus innings on Sunday against the Twins.

Afterward, Hammel called the performance "amateur stuff."

So Hammel has sat down with pitching coach Dave Eiland and manager Ned Yost to get answers.

"Basically the plan from here on out is to be more aggressive in the strike zone," Hammel said. "Get ahead of hitters and you might even get a one-pitch out. Don't be so fine on the corners.

"Because 70 pitches in three innings is just unacceptable."

Yost has hinted that Hammel's slider sometimes moves so much that it darts out of the strike zone.

"It can at times when I'm overthrowing," Hammel said. "My thought process has to be aggressive in the zone and down. The main thing is with the fastball. It's the easiest pitch to throw for a strike. You have to make hitters chase on the slider.

"When Ned talks about the slider maybe moving too much, that's because they're not respecting the fastball. They can just wait on their pitch and not chase.

"I know the stuff is fine, but it's just elevated pitch count which, in turn, kills the bullpen."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.