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Fox Trying to Add Changeup to his Repertoire


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Marlins' Fox busy working on a changeup for the better

 

By Ted Hutton

Staff Writer

Posted March 2 2004

 

JUPITER -- Chad Fox is 33 and has been pitching since he was a kid. He has a mean fastball and nasty slider, pitches that helped the reliever sign a $1.2 million, one-year contract with the Marlins.

 

But that doesn't mean Fox isn't willing to try something new, which is why hitters are likely to see some changeups when they face him this spring.

 

"It's another weapon," Fox said Monday. "You talk with hitters and realize how it catches them off guard, so why not try it? Let's see what happens."

 

Left fielder Jeff Conine understands why Fox would want a changeup in his repertoire.

 

"It's the most effective pitch in the game," Conine said. "It's a tough pitch to read."

 

Marlins catcher Mike Redmond explained how a changeup works.

 

"You sell it as a fastball, but it comes in maybe 8 or 9 miles per hour slower," Redmond said. "It's a great equalizer and very effective."

 

The changeup can make batters look awful, as they swing at where they think the ball is supposed to be when it is still making its way to the plate.

 

"I'd rather see a breaking pitch than a changeup," Conine said. "You can pick those up and they are hittable, but a changeup is a tough pitch to hit. Your mind is telling you to swing at a fastball, but it's not there yet."

 

Fox, a 6-foot-3 right-hander, said he fooled around with a changeup several times in his career, but never quite got it.

 

"You want to keep that same arm speed because that is what's fooling them," Fox said. "When I was younger, I just didn't get it. Now that I've gotten older I've learned my mechanics and can hopefully make it work."

 

A couple other factors helped Fox begin working on the changeup during the offseason.

 

"It takes stress off your arm," he said, "and I've had a lot of surgeries and arm problems."

 

Fox, who was signed by the Marlins last August after being released by Boston, has been on the disabled list five times and had two operations on his right elbow.

 

Another was seeing how effective Josh Beckett's changeup was during the Marlins' run to the World Series. And because Beckett and Fox are Texas natives who live near each other, Fox worked out with the World Series MVP in the offseason.

 

"Josh made it so successful you had to think about it," Fox said.

 

Because the arm speed has to be the same as with a fastball, changing the grip is required.

 

"The grip takes the speed off the ball," said Fox, showing how the ball is nestled in his palm. "The ball is choked and my hand is a lot more relaxed. With my fastball and slider, the grip is more intense. I pretty much have a death grip on it."

 

Fox said he doesn't need to use the changeup much, just enough for hitters to know he has it.

 

"I want it in the back of their heads, `OK, is that a fastball or is that a changeup?'" Fox said.

 

"You just have to let a hitter see it once," Redmond said, "and they will never forget that you have it and you'll have an advantage."

 

"I'm definitely not going to get away from my slider, that's my out pitch and I know that's my bread and butter," Fox said. "[The changeup]is on a trial basis right now. If it doesn't work, that's fine."

 

Redmond said, "In spring training, we'll call it a lot just to work on it to see what kind of feel he can get for it. We'll see if it gets to the point where he can go to it in crunch time."? ? ?

 

Copyright ? 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

 

If he could have a decent enough changeup that would really help him fool hitters. Towards the end of last year I sometimes thought they had figured him out because when he couldnt find his slider he would just throw his fastball and he would get racked with a changeup he could mix things up a bit more.

 

 

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