AFL Road Trip: White Sox’s Harrell Gets A Grip

PEORIA, Ariz. — If Lucas Harrell makes a turn for the better here in the Arizona Fall League, the White Sox’s righthander might look back to two days ago as the turning point.

The 2004 fourth-round pick was working on the side and experimented with a new grip on his slider. Gone is the four-seam fastball-like grip in which Harrell would turn his hand in order to get the necessary spin.

In its place is more of what Harrell called a John Smoltz-like grip for the slider as he handles it on the seams.

Credit Kirk Champion, one of his pitching coaches here in the Arizona Fall League for the Peoria Saguaros and the White Sox’s roving pitching instructor, for the suggestion.

“It’s going to help me tighten it up,” Harrell said. “It’s more of a strike pitch now.”

Harrell was a surprise addition to the White Sox’s 40-man roster last November despite not pitching at all in 2007 following minor surgical repairs on his elbow.

He then battled an inflamed shoulder in 2008, missing time from mid-April to mid-June. He finished back at Double-A Birmingham, striking out 25 but issuing 18 walks in almost 42 innings.

He is 2-0, 6.52 in 9.2 innings in the AFL, with nine strikeouts and four walks. His velocity is back up in the low 90s.