Notes: Wilson adding to pitching menu
Rangers left-hander will experiment with Japan's 'gyro'
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The "gyro," a pitch made famous by Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka, may be coming to Ameriquest Field in Arlington.Left-handed reliever C.J. Wilson, a relentless student of pitching and all things baseball, may be the guy who brings it. Kazu Tezuka, the Japanese baseball trainer who came up with the pitch, is in camp working with reliever Akinori Otsuka and Wilson talked to him about the gyro for an hour. "I'm going to give it a shot," Wilson said Wednesday. "He gave me a little device to practice with. I'm going to do it on my own so I don't alter my mechanics." The gyro is supposed to be a fastball with extra hop that, when thrown by a left-hander, moves in on a right-handed hitter. The idea is that when thrown properly, it moves like a bullet or a football and actually rises on a hitter as it breaks. "I thought it was a slider, but it's a fastball with hop that allegedly rises," Wilson said. "It's like a sailing, cut fastball. The spin created is what makes it lift and you do that by having your hand on the side of the ball more than a fastball. The key is generating more power with your hips than normal." Wilson is constantly in search of information that will make him better. He spent much time with Kenny Rogers when they were together two years ago and has studied the philosophy of former Cy Young Award winner Mike Marshall, a doctor in kinesiology whose theories in pitching have generally been shunned or disputed by Major League pitching instructors. Wilson came up with a new pitch last year that he calls "The Cork." It's basically a combination of a split-fingered fastball and a cut fastball. The splitter tumbles downward and a cut fastball moves in on a right-handed hitter. The Cork tumbled down and in for Wilson. "I'm not afraid to try new things," Wilson said. "I'm never satisfied. I'm always trying to make myself a better pitcher." Gagne watch: Most pitchers throw a bullpen session every other day in Spring Training. As a concession to two surgeries, Rangers reliever Eric Gagne is throwing off a mound every third day.
Gagne is spending extra time throwing long toss, which is more suited toward building up the arm strength he needs after two years of limited pitching. Gagne is also cautiously working through the early Spring Training soreness that all pitchers go through.Gagne said the first few weeks of Spring Training are for building arm strength. Then comes regaining his feel for pitching and finally getting back to game-ready again. "I feel good right now, I'm just taking baby steps," said Gagne, who had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery in 2005 and back surgery last year. "I still feel like I'm ahead of schedule." Francisco is explosive: Manager Ron Washington watched reliever Frank Francisco throw in the bullpen on Wednesday and was impressed with what he saw, especially with the fastball. "It was explosive," Washington said. "Right now he's healthy. It looks like he's not missing much on his fastball and he still has the power splitter. We need to get him back into game shape. If we get him back into game shape, he'll make us so much better." Francisco was an integral part of the Rangers league-leading bullpen in 2004 when he was 5-1 with a 3.33 ERA and struck out 60 batters in 51 1/3 innings. Washington was a coach with the Oakland Athletics back then and said, "I just remember him blowing us away." But Francisco has spent the past two years trying to come back from Tommy John surgery as well as the fallout from the chair-throwing incident at the end of the 2004 season. But the elbow appears healthy again and he has fulfilled the community service requirements from his plea-bargain agreement for misdemeanor assault. He can concentrate now on winning a spot in the Rangers bullpen. "All the work, the community service, it was tough," Francisco said. "But now it's behind me. I've got my mind clear. All I've got to do is focus on baseball." Individual tickets on sale, March 2: Individual tickets for Rangers home games will go on sale to the public at 9 a.m. CT on Friday, March 2. Tickets can be purchased on the internet at www.texasrangers.com, by phone at 817-273-5100, at the first-base ticket off at Ameriquest Field in Arlington or by mail through the Texas Rangers Ticket Office, 1000 Ballpark Way, Arlington, TX 76011. The ticket office at Ameriquest Field will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday noon-4:00 p.m. beginning on March 2. He said it: "He just gave me a 10-minute hug,"
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.