Randy Wolf didn’t fool any of the first three White Sox hitters he faced on Sunday at Maryvale Baseball Park. Then he did something he figures he wouldn’t have been able to do in springs past: He made an adjustment.
“Historically, my Spring Trainings were atrocious,” Wolf said. “It was a moral victory to get five innings in.”
He got his five innings in Sunday but was still left with only a moral victory. The White Sox rallied from a two-run deficit after Wolf departed and the teams settled for a 4-4 tie after 10 innings.
Chicago’s two first-inning runs were the first this spring off Wolf, who has a 1.80 ERA and an eight-to-two strikeouts to walks ratio in 10 innings over three Cactus League starts. He also made one appearance in a Minor League intrasquad game.
Wolf said he has been happy with his early progression, especially considering the way he used to struggle in Spring Training. The change happened in August 2008, when he figured out a way to simplify his delivery and turned around his career.
Before that change, “it was always like, ‘I can’t find the right rhythm, but I know I’ll get there when I’m supposed to,’ as opposed to knowing what I need to do in the offseason and finding that rhythm in February. …
“When you have a consistent delivery, you don’t feel like you played in the NFL after your start. Your body is more efficient; you don’t use as much effort. To use less effort to do the same thing is very key.”
Like all pitchers, Wolf still finds himself out of whack on occasion. His bullpen session prior to Sunday’s start was “awful,” he said, and so was the start of the game. Three straight hits — including a two-run double by Mark Kotsay on a hanging curveball — gave Chicago a 2-0 lead before Wolf had recorded an out.
But Wolf made the adjustments he needed to allow only four more hits and no more runs over five innings.
“The first three hitters, they hit the ball hard. I mean, there were some loud sounds,” Brewers manager Ken Macha said. “After that, [Wolf] controlled their bat speeds and there weren’t too many balls hit hard. Soft fly balls, soft grounders. He did a nice job of mixing his pitches, coming inside, going outside soft, throwing some sinkers behind in the count. That’s really the first chance I’ve had to watch him because I’ve been at a ‘B’ game or a split-squad the other way, so he did a nice job.”
Where would Wolf be today had he not found that mechanical fix?
“That’s a great question,” he said.