CHICAGO -- Ross Ohlendorf has never been shy to throw over to first base. In fact, last year he led the National League with eight pickoffs. And in doing so, he became just the third right-hander since 2002 to have seven or more pickoffs in a single season.
This year, however, the pickoffs aren't accumulating, and the errors are.
Ohlendorf committed yet another throwing error on a pickoff attempt on Sunday, which marked his fourth such error in his past eight starts. It cost the right-hander a run, too, that loomed largely in Pittsburgh's eventual one-run loss to Oakland. And now in 11 starts, he still hasn't picked off a runner all year.
So what has gone wrong for Ohlendorf, who has had success in this area in recent years? The issue lies in his target, Ohlendorf explained. Instead of throwing a safe, high throw to the first baseman, Ohlendorf is trying to aim the throw low so the first baseman has a better chance at a quick catch and tag.
The problem, though, is that Ohlendorf isn't making those throws accurately.
"I haven't been picking guys off, so I'm trying to make better throws and I end up throwing them too far away," Ohlendorf said. "Last year, when I was trying to make those throws, I was making them more consistently. This year, I've just yanked them just a little bit to where they are a little out of reach."
All this presents a Catch-22 of sorts for Ohlendorf, who doesn't want to let his recent throwing issues keep him from being aggressive in that area. His solution? "One thing I'm going to do is practice more," Ohlendorf said.
Added manager John Russell: "He likes to pick guys off. He's good at it. He's quick to first. When you're that quick, sometimes it's tough to pick up your target. I don't want to take that away from him, because he's good at it."