McCutchen, a non-roster invitee who spent the 2012 season in Triple-A, is slated to throw his second bullpen with the delivery today and hopes to pitch in a spring game later this week.
He said the Orioles suggested he test a new delivery after pitching coach Rick Adair saw him fielding PFPs.
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“It’s just something we’re trying out,” McCutchen said. “Rich saw me fielding PFPs and I guess I got pretty good at turning and dropping down. I used to be a shortstop. ... So I tried it out and I like it so far. You get a lot of movement on the ball. It feels pretty natural. It’s still in the early stages of it, but we talked about it and I said I’d give it a try and I’ve been excited about it so far.”
In Tuesday’s intrasquad, in which McCutchen debuted the delivery, he struggled with his control. He hit one batter in the neck when a two-strike rising fastball went wild and also issued a walk and threw a wild pitch.
“It’s more of my body tilting than my arm,” McCutchen said. “I feel like I’m throwing from the ground. But people tell me you’re just bending over. But really it’s what the ball is doing out of my hand. The ball is moving out of my hand differently with a lot more sink. The change-up's good. We’ll see. I have a lot to learn from there. I’ve been doing about four days now, but it could be good.
“I talked to [Orioles sidearmer Darren] O’Day yesterday and he was talking to me about controlling strikes because you get a lot more movement from down there and being able to control it is the biggest obstacle,” he added. “So far it feels pretty natural. But I don’t know, it’s kind of unchartered territory for me.”
McCutchen said he’s open to the change because it could carve a niche for him to stay in the majors. He’s spent most of the past four years shuffling between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Triple-A. With the Pirates’ Triple-A team in Indianapolis last season, he was 7-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 36 relief appearances.
“It’s not like I’m struggling and have to make a change, but it’s just something that I really think can take me to the next level, where I can stop being the fringe Triple-A/big league guy,” McCutchen said. “That’s what every guy in Triple-A wants, to have a solidified spot in the big leagues. We’ll see if this can be my niche.”
This spring, left-hander Mark Hendrickson is reinventing himself as a sidearmer. Right-hander Adam Russell also has a sidearm delivery and O’Day has developed into a dependable late-inning arm.
Meanwhile, here are the starting lineups for today’s game against the Rays. Right-hander Kevin Gausman, the organization’s No. 2 prospect, will get his first spring start. Right-hander Dylan Bundy, the team’s top prospect, will follow Gausman.