Koji Uehara happy with grip change on split

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
9:00
AM CT
ARLINGTON, Texas -- One of the big reasons that Koji Uehara has emerged as an important late-inning weapon for manager Ron Washington and pitching coaches Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins is his splitter is once again baffling hitters, particularly lefties.

Uehara said he changed his grip on the pitch after he returned from a lenghty stay on the disabled list. Uehara missed 65 games with a right late muscle strain and has looked refreshed and lively.

Uehara feels that his mindset is also better, but that process began in spring training once he settled into being with the club in Surprise and preparing for the 2012 season.

"I think that helped," Uehara said through an interpreter. "Last year, I was in a way a transfer student. But this year, I was classmates with my teammates."

Uehara is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA this seaosn. But since returning from the DL, he's been nearly unhitable. He has with 8 1/3 scoreless innings his last 11 games. He has retired all 20 batters he's faced in his last eight appearances, 12 of them on strikeouts, and he's gotten 25 of the last 27 out overall.

"I'm getting better and better," Uehara said.

He was asked if his postseason struggles last year are driving him this time of year. He gave up three runs on two hits and didn't record an out in his only appearance in the ALDS and sported a 13.50 ERA in the ALCS (two earned runs in 1 1/3 innings).

"I've forgotten about the postseason last year," Uehara said. "I don't even want to think about it. I'd rather you not even ask that question anymore."

Uehara was smiling after he said that last part. And overall, he looks comfortable and confident -- whether he's talking to the media or on the mound. With Mike Adams out, Uehara's importance only increases now.

"He's pitched well and he's fresh," Washington said earlier this week. "We're counting on him."
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Jon Daniels

Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Jim Bowden

ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Chuck Cooperstein

Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.

Galloway & Company: Elvis Andrus

Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.

Galloway & Company: Nolan Ryan

Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Ron Washington

Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Fire Wash?

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Elvis Andrus
BA HR RBI R
.302 1 3 9
OTHER LEADERS
HRE. Andrus 1
RBIA. Rios 7
RE. Andrus 9
OPSS. Choo .830
WP. Figueroa 2
ERAY. Darvish 0.82
SOY. Darvish 23