Ross applying strategy to use of top-notch slider

Ross applying strategy to use of top-notch slider

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Tyson Ross estimated that he threw "five or six" sliders in his three innings Friday against the Royals, which seemed about right to him for his second outing of the spring.

As Ross moves into his second season in the Padres' rotation, he'll again rely on his slider, considered a plus-pitch for him.

"It's one of the best in the National League," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Last season, only five starting pitchers in baseball used their slider more than Ross did (32.6 percent). This season, Ross wants to better utilize the pitch, which doesn't mean using it more than before.

"I think I can work the sequences a little better to keep guys off the slider," he said. "I think guys are starting to look out over the plate [for the slider] with two strikes ... so that's going to open up some heaters in. I think that I can use that to my advantage, sort of altering my attack."

Black doesn't see the need to stray too far away from what Ross did a year ago, when opposing batters hit just .201 against him in the second half.

"You've still got to pitch your game and pitch to your game as the game tells you. What we're trying to do with Tyson is really gain confidence in his fastball command, and that will make his slider better," Black said. "He's got a very good slider, there's no doubt about it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.