Changed arm slot paying off for Leroux

Changed arm slot paying off for Leroux

Changed arm slot paying off for Leroux
ST. LOUIS -- Back in late April, when it looked like Chris Leroux was falling down on the Triple-A depth chart, he was presented with the suggestion of returning to his old form. He revisited the three-quarters arm slot that had brought him success in 2008-09 and picked back up his "slurve" pitch that he had thrown in college.

Leroux's Triple-A numbers saw an immediate improvement after the two changes were made. And now back in the Majors, the right-hander has carried over that success. With another 2 2/3 scoreless innings on Thursday, Leroux has allowed only one run in 10 2/3 innings with Pittsburgh.

"I'd like to say it's been career saving," Leroux said of the change in arm angle. "My control is way better. I'm down in the zone more. I'm throwing my breaking ball a lot more for strikes. I think the results speak for themselves."

They do, especially in comparison to Leroux's numbers from a year ago. Claimed off waivers by the Pirates last September, Leroux came to Pittsburgh to finish off a season in which he posted a 6.75 ERA in 23 Major League appearances. His results in the Minors -- a 6.28 ERA in 26 games -- weren't much better.

But a renaissance of sorts this year has helped Leroux lay claim to a long-relief role and has put him on the radar to be a piece in the Pirates' bullpen beyond 2011.

"I'd just like to give it more time to make sure that what we're seeing is what we're seeing," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Where it all goes, I don't know. But I do know that right now he has a very versatile arm. He can be used multiple times in a week. I love the arm. He's got a lot of self-confidence in a quiet way. I think he's got a very good future."

After unsuccessfully lobbying to start earlier in the year, Leroux has settled into a multiple-innings relief role. It's a role Leroux said suits him well, and it could turn out to be his best fit on a Pirates team that is likely to construct its 2012 bullpen mostly through internal options.

"I've showed the little time I've been up here this year that I'm a changed pitcher," Leroux said. "I think this next month is going to be big for me. Hopefully, I can prove even more that I deserve to be here."