SARASOTA, Fla. -- Left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz began toying with a sidearm delivery two years ago, but last season he realized how it could benefit him while pitching for the Dodgers' Triple-A team in Albuquerque.
The 6-foot-5 De La Cruz throw conventionally most of the time, but he will drop his arm angle to left-handed hitters when ahead in the count and with two-strikes, showing a slider that sweeps across the plate away from lefties.
"It's really been a career-changer for me," said De La Cruz, who threw a perfect seventh inning – and retiring two left-handed batter -- in the Orioles' 9-7 exhibition win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. "It's always good to have another weapon. And when I throw it, I feel that lefties are going to swing at it."
The 25-year-old De La Cruz said he first began using the sidearm delivery in games last year. And he held left-handers to a .217 batting average in Albuquerque.
The Orioles have had their share of pitchers with lower arm slots. Set-up man Darren O'Day has a submarine delivery and last spring non-roster pitchers Mark Hendrickson and Adam Russell tested sidearm deliveries.
"I feel like I can throw it [sidearm] whenever I want to," De La Cruz said. "I've never been nervous about throwing it. It's always been there. No matter what I throw – I can go over the top or from the side – I think I can throw a quality pitch."