Marlins' Sinkbeil Ditches Changeup

Move Solidifies Shift To Bullpen





FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. It's been almost an entire calendar year since righthander Brett Sinkbeil last fiddled with a changeup. If he goes the rest of his professional career without attempting to throw one, that's fine with him.

Sinkbeil's inability to master a third pitch sent him from starter to reliever at Triple-A New Orleans last season. That's not what the Marlins envisioned when they selected him 19th overall out of Missouri State in 2006 and gave him a $1.525 million bonus.

"We had talked about it and thought I would be able to develop that changeup if I continued to be a starter," Sinkbeil said. "As a first-round pick, that much money, they want to get a starter out of it. Not being able to pick up that changeup, there was really one place I could really go from there."

Sinkbeil went 1-5, 10.59 with a .399 opponents' average in eight starts for the Zephyrs last season. He was no better the prior year in Double-A Carolina's rotation, losing nine of 14 decisions with a 5.02 ERA.

At least three times Sinkbeil changed the grip on his changeup. At times he would get the right action, but he couldn't generate the same arm speed as the fastball. When he did generate the same arm speed, the location was terrible. His career also stalled because of injuries. He was diagnosed with a herniated disc at the end of 2007, around the time he thought the Marlins were considering a promotion from high Class A Jupiter to Double-A.

The Marlins finally decided the bullpen was the way to go. As a reliever last season, Sinkbeil went 1-3, 2.94 in 49 innings over 39 appearances. He limited hitters to a .244 average but had just two more strikeouts (28) than walks (26).

FISH BITES

• Penciled into New Orleans' rotation, lefthander Sean West did not start the season on time because of a back issue.

• The Marlins designated outfielder Jai Miller and righthander Cristhian Martinez for assignment to accommodate the non-roster players who made their Opening Day roster.