PHOENIX – Inducing ground balls normally is a fantastic detail for any pitcher. For those who participate in their dwelling games at hitter-friendly Miller Park, it is highly advised.

With that in head, the Milwaukee Brewers signed reliever Jake Petricka to a no cost-agent contract in excess of the winter, bringing him to spring camp to vie for a task. The 30-year-old correct-hander pitched past season for Toronto but was not tendered a contract for 2019, placing him on the current market.

Petricka (pronounced puh-TRISH-kuh) experienced ample rough outings with the Blue Jays to bump his earned operate typical to 4.53 in excess of 41 games, with a lessen ground ball fee (51 p.c) than standard. For his job, majors and minors, the native of Faribault, Minnesota, has induced grounders at just under 60 p.c of the time.

“There ended up a few gives out there,” Petricka mentioned. “They experienced some desire past year as well so we understood their desire was really genuine. During the entire group, they ended up a very first-class group. That absolutely served.”

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Petricka was a 2nd-round draft choose by the Chicago White Sox out of Indiana Point out in 2010 and swiftly ascended to the majors, making his debut a few decades later on. He was a major portion of Chicago’s bullpen in 2014, submitting a 2.96 Period in excess of 67 appearances, and was however receiving the ball regularly the future season, with a 3.63 Period in excess of 62 outings.

Then, came the injuries. Petricka endured a torn labrum in his correct hip soon after only nine outings in ’16 and underwent surgery, lacking the relaxation of the season. He returned the future year and struggled, submitting a 7.01 Period in excess of 27 appearances ahead of likely on the DL with a correct elbow strain. Petricka later on experienced surgery to transpose the ulnar nerve in that elbow.

Chicago cut him free soon after that season and Petricka landed in Toronto. Immediately after the Blue Jays let him go, the Brewers signed him to a split contract that pays $900,000 if he is in the majors and $250,000 in the minors.

“Those two decades of injuries made it tricky,” Petricka mentioned. “Last year, I was at last receiving back into it. If I could erase a few or four outings past year, the figures are a great deal improved. But that’s most people. You have received to limit those major innings.

“Looking at the way they ended up constructing the team, it kind of made feeling (to be non-tendered). It’s a enterprise, and they are in a rebuild now.”

As for his reliance on inducing grounders, Petricka mentioned, “A double participate in is improved than a strikeout to me. It doesn’t matter who’s in the box, to me. I really don’t believe they are likely to raise it until finally they prove me completely wrong.

“Balls have been leaving the lawn additional than they ever have. The hitters are that fantastic now. That is why you have to maintain the ball down.”

Petricka is in a team of pitchers in camp vying for places in the bullpen, including Jacob Barnes, Taylor Williams, Junior Guerra, Adrian Houser and Bobby Wahl, amongst other people. Manager Craig Counsell mentioned Friday that Matt Albers, whose 2018 season fell aside soon after some injuries, is deemed “on the team,” becoming a member of Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and, additional than probable, lefty Alex Claudio.

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“Obtaining ground balls, that’s his power,” Counsell mentioned of Petricka. “Fantastic velocity with his sinker. That is his bread and butter. He needs to get the ball on the ground. He has experienced some major-league achievements. That is portion of it.

“It is really an attention-grabbing person to place in the level of competition. He is a person we have received to make a determination on. He is squarely in the level of competition.” 

Petricka, who has a slight-league solution remaining, understood the Brewers ended up loaded with relief arms when he signed with them, so he’s fantastic with becoming thrown into level of competition for careers.

“I believe it’s stacked,” he mentioned. “That’s where by I just require to get the ball, regardless of whether it’s the fifth or sixth inning, and get it to the guys in the back conclude, and let them do their task. They wished me listed here for a rationale, so I’m just likely to do what I do.”