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Belisle seeks to keep hitters guessing in '14


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Matt Belisle is being patient and measured in his evaluation of his Spring Training project -- to tweak his approach just enough to keep opponents off his pitches.

Belisle, 33, a frequently used setup man whose struggles last season (5-7, 4.32 ERA in 72 games) were costly in some tight games, is incorporating his changeup and looking to pitch inside. Those are parts of his strategy that he said he got away from last year, and hitters caught on. The velocity on the four-seam fastball has dropped some -- possibly a product of 302 appearances and 317 innings over the last four years -- but his sinker, slider and changeup measure as similar, and he added a cutter three seasons ago.

On Saturday, in his first Cactus League outing, Belisle gave up a run in a 3-2 loss to the Reds in which he hit two batters (one he grazed with a cutter, one with a fastball) and gave up two hits in one inning.

"Yesterday was about getting back into a rhythm," Belisle said. "I wanted to employ some different signs with the catcher. That was a new rhythm. I feel great about it. I don't like the results, obviously, but as far as my plan about what I'm trying to get done this spring and how I'm going to attack guys this year, I was good with that a long time ago. It's not a big problem for me to put that into play. I missed some spots with it yesterday, but the gameplan was there."

Belisle said his changes will not be radical.

"Heck no," he said. "This was never a significant change. These are subtleties that I've done in the past to become less predictable. That's all. Everything that I've done in the past to get people out will still be there. It's just mixing things up."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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