For the last seven years, Byrd has kept a journal of various tips and techniques he has learned that have benefited him on the mound. He turned to that '02 season with the Royals, when he won 17 games, including two shutouts and seven complete games, and made note of how effective the changeup was as an out pitch against lefties.This year, Byrd hopes the split-finger will work in a similar manner. He'll utilize the Tribe's slate of Grapefruit League games to test it out, in addition to soliciting advice from pitching coach Carl Willis, who leaned heavily on the split during his playing days with the Twins. On Thursday, the pitch didn't get Byrd off to the best of starts. "I was throwing it well in the bullpen," he said. "Then I came out and threw the first four in the dirt. I was thinking, 'I don't know what I was working on this offseason. I could have watched more TV.'" As the outing progressed, he got a better feel for the pitch. He struck out left-hander Luke Scott in the fourth, which was one of his two scoreless innings of work. It might seem odd for a pitcher who's been around as long as Byrd has to be discovering a new pitch this late in his career. But manager Eric Wedge is all for it. "[Byrd] can throw anything he wants to out there," Wedge said. "He has a tremendous feel for the baseball in his hands. He sees the plate very well, and he knows what he wants the baseball to do." What Byrd wants it to do this season is get more left-handers out. And with his arm feeling good and his spot in the Tribe's rotation written in ink, he's going to take advantage of his job security to try something new. "I'm not in a position where I have to have a perfect spring to make the team," Byrd said. "That's why I kept throwing it [Thursday, even after the early troubles]. In a regular game, I wouldn't keep throwing it to find it. But for me, working on that pitch is what this spring is going to be about."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less