Listening to Andrew Cashner talk after his final exhibition start Monday afternoon in Norfolk, Va., the Orioles right-hander sounds confident in the arsenal he will carry into the regular season.

That’s because Cashner believes he’s regained the feel for his slider, a pitch that was a regular part of his arsenal before last season pitching for the Texas Rangers. Last season, after throwing his slider 17 percent of the time in his first seven major league seasons, Cashner essentially abandoned it for a cutter, a pitch similar to the slider that has less break but more velocity.

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After his final preseason tuneup Monday, Cashner was happy to announce he had found his slider again.

“I really think I just figured it out in the last five days,” Cashner said. “For me, I’ve been throwing a cutter. The cutter is still pretty good, but I think I’ve finally found my balance point and release point with my slider and right now, I’ve got it. So you just have to keep that feeling and keep going forward with it.”

If Cashner can re-establish his slider and use it to complement his power sinker, he will be able to cover both sides of the plate, which should not only help his ground-ball rate but also lead to more strikeouts. Last season, Cashner’s strikeout rate of 12.2 percent was the lowest of his career.

Cashner’s sinker is a unique pitch. He likes to throw it up in the zone and it has dramatic late break, so it is a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch, especially against left-handed hitters. But he can also keep it down to induce ground balls. Cashner owns a 49 percent career ground-ball rate, and last year he posted a 48.6 mark with the Rangers.

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Cashner said having spring training in Florida for the first time in his career — he trained in Arizona when with the San Diego Padres and Rangers – allowed him the opportunity to get a better feel for his sinker.

“You go to Arizona and you really don’t have a chance to work on your sinker because it really doesn’t sink there, so I think I really had the chance to work on it all spring,” Cashner said. “I feel like I’m in the best place I’ve been in a long time with my breaking ball.”

Combine those pitches with a four-seamer, curveball and an occasional changeup, and Cashner is excited about the beginning of the season. He will pitch the Orioles’ second game of the year Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

“I feel like I’m in a really good place mentally, physically,” Cashner said. “I’ve been working on a lot of different stuff. I’m excited for the challenge of Minnesota.”

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