DETROIT -- It was not easy to make the adjustment that Tom Gorzelanny needed to make. Had he not done so, it was no secret that his career would've been over. The change in arm slots is still a work in progress and Saturday night was the first time he'd pitched in a week, but that didn't show in the two solid innings of work.
"I felt good out there," Gorzelanny said. "I felt strong. Just trying to stick to the process I've been working with lately since I've been back. Things felt comfortable out there. Every time I get off the mound I work on stuff and things are getting better each time I do it."
Saturday night was the longest outing for Gorzelanny this season and he had only pitched 1 2/3 innings once -- on May 11 in his second outing of the year. When nothing was working he got sent down to Triple-A to work on the new arm slot, something that the Tigers felt could save his career. Since returning from Toledo, it's definitely been an up and down time for Gorzelanny and the record reflects as much.
After he pitched back-to-back scoreless outings, Gorzelanny gave up two runs on three hits a week ago. The Tigers held him from pitching for the next several games. Some signs of rust would've been expected and considering his shaky season, not surprising. Instead, the opposite happened. But none of this has been easy and Gorzelanny has a long way to go before even he trusts himself with his new delivery completely.
"It's been trying," he said. "People my age and at this point in their career don't usually make arm angle changes in the middle of the season. It's probably not advisable for most people to do it. But it was an idea I wanted to try and they wanted me to try and it's worked. It looked good and it felt good. It's just a matter of getting used to it and getting reps. The most important thing is doing it as much as you can -- and that's kind of tough do during a season."
What his pitches were doing, the sink of the fastball, more break in his slider, and even just how his arm has felt in switching over -- everything about it is just better, he said. Even the recovery process has been easier for Gorzelanny.
It's an arm slot -- slightly 3/4 but more so sidearm -- that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said Gorzelanny is definitely getting more comfortable with. With more use, the Tigers think it will be something that he'll be able to use long-term. Only time will tell. But on Saturday night when the Tigers couldn't afford any additional mistakes in a tied game that'd gone to extras, Gorzelanny locked the Royals down long enough for Ian Kinsler to walk it off 6-5 in the 11th -- for real this time.
For Gorzelanny, he's now pretty comfortable with most of his pitches, though he said sometimes he's unsure of how much a pitch will break -- particularly the slider -- and that will just take time as he continues to make adjustments. If he can continue to adjust and improve as a reliever by putting the past behind him, Gorzelanny may yet be a strength in the bullpen.
"Through the whole year, it's been a rough year for him," Kinsler said. "Because he struggled early and then he tried to change his arm angle and drop down, and you could see that it was going to be effective. He just couldn't control the ball as well, and it took time. His last probably four outings have been really good. So it's good to see all the hard work pay off."