Rangers right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is getting the message.
He’s been told the past two seasons while he’s bounced back and forth between the big leagues and Triple A Round Rock, to slow down his heart rate on the mound, to slow the game down. And to fill the zone with strikes.
He did all of that Monday in his first spring outing against the Indians. He pounded the strike zone, got ahead of hitters and retired six of the seven batters he faced.
10 Earned runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings in three starts for the Rangers in 2016 by right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez
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“I was real committed about just being smooth, calm,” said Gonzalez, who did not pitch well in three starts for the Rangers in 2016. “Two days ago I decided to put that in my mind and just let the rest take care of itself and it did.”
Against the Indians, Gonzalez mostly relied on his four-seam fastball. He was getting ahead of hitters that he only felt the need to use his curve ball once.
“That’s my goal, [get] Strike 1,” he said. “I’m going to need to be able to throw my breaking ball first pitch instead of just all fastballs.”
But his fastball, which he can also sink, was too good not to keep using.
“My ball moves enough where I can cut it and sink it that it’s essentially two pitches,” he said. “That’s what I had today.”