ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' coaching staff believes it has identified a mechanical flaw that, when corrected, should help reliever Fernando Salas emerge from his recent funk.
After a so-so spring showing, Salas has been scored upon in four of his 12 outings this year. He has lost his role as the team's primary setup man and has a WHIP over two. Tuesday was as rough an appearance as any, as Salas inherited a six-run lead in the eighth and allowed the Pirates to shave that deficit in half. The right-hander was pulled after facing six batters and throwing 28 pitches.
During an afternoon bullpen session on Wednesday, Salas was told of some discrepancies spotted between his delivery now and that motion during previous periods of success. That prompted some slight tweaking -- mostly focused on getting Salas to have more exaggerated of a rotation -- that the Cardinals hope will improve his fastball command.
"He's been trying a couple different things that have probably set him up with some errant fastballs that have ended up hurting him," manager Mike Matheny said. "He was excited to see what was found and hopefully he'll make some adjustments from here. ... It's amazing how subtle a change can make such a large difference."
Salas came into spring as a favorite to win a setup job given the success he had in 2011. Now with a 7.27 ERA -- the highest of anyone on the staff -- Salas will be pitching in less-pressured spots until he feels comfortable again.
"I want to get him in situations where he can have a little bit of room for error," Matheny said. "I just believe he's going to be as big a part of this bullpen as he was last year. He's been trying to make some adjustments, and I think now he's got his hands around what he needs to do to get back to where he was."