A small tweak to his mechanics has made a huge difference for left-hander reliever Doug Slaten, who Monday was called up from Triple-A Indianapolis.
After Slaten put up awful numbers in spring training - a 9.00 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP in six Grapefruit League outings - Indy pitching coach Tom Filer suggested Slaten lower his hands when he sets up. "It's a timing thing and it really worked," Slaten said.
In 20 outings for Indy, Slaten went 2-0 with eight saves and a 0.36 ERA. His .161 batting average against was second best in the International League.
"It was a little bit of luck, and I also went out there with the same mind set every time, sticking to the same routine," Slaten said.
• Slaten was recalled because reliever Juan Cruz was placed on the restricted list so he could attend to a personal matter in the Dominican Republic. Manager Clint Hurdle said Cruz is expected to rejoin the team Friday, when the Pirates open a three-game set in Milwaukee.
• The Reds rank second in the NL with 63 home runs. Hurdle said advance scouting, even something as simple as watching ESPN, can help Pirates pitches from being victimized. "I encourage the players to watch where the catcher's glove is and where the ball is (thrown)," Hurdle said. "That's really about all you need to pay attention to."
• Neil Walker has hit safely in each of his past six games against the Reds, going 10 for 23 (.435) in that span. In 19 games against the Reds at PNC Park, Walker is batting .375 (24 for 64) with six doubles, a homer and 11 RBI.
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