Reds' Milton tries out other side
Ex-Red Browning offers fellow lefty a pitching suggestion
SARASOTA, Fla. — Call it “The Moving of Eric Milton.”
Guest instructor Tom Browning, a left-hander who knows a thing or four about pitching, watched lefty Milton throw at the Cincinnati Reds spring training complex and decided to make a suggestion.
Browning saw Milton standing on the third-base side of the pitching rubber. Browning pitched with his foot on the first-base side of the rubber.
Uncertain about the reception, Browning approached Milton cautiously, but discovered he is ready to stand on his head and whistle “Sweet Home Alabama” while chewing Saltines if it will help him avoid what happened last year: 8-15 with a 6.47 earned-run average in 34 starts.
“I tried it out while throwing batting practice Friday,” Milton said. “It felt good. I’ve always had good control, so it didn’t throw me off. (Coach) Billy Connors moved me to the third-base side when I pitched with the Yankees.
“I throw across my body, and he thought it would be easier to get inside on right-handed hitters,” Milton said. “With Browning’s theory, by moving to the first-base side, it is farther to throw to get inside on a right-hander, but the angle is better. It seemed like (Friday) they weren’t getting very good swings, not seeing pitches inside, so it is encouraging.”
Milton plans to stick with it for the time being.
Browning said he sat with Milton before batting practice Friday, “And we tossed things back and forth. I wanted to open him up to a different side to change the angle of his delivery. I told him, ‘I don’t think you understand how much more effective you can be against right-handers on the first-base side.’ ”
Browning said the move should make his cut fastball more effective and enable him to more easily jam right-handers. Last year, Milton started too many of his pitches over the plate, “And that wasn’t good in that baby ballpark (Great American Ball Park) we play in.”
Milton gave up 40 home runs, 35 to right-handers, who hit .302 against him.