Lance Painter’s role as a pitching coach isn’t always to develop the young arms, getting them ready for their call to the major leagues.
Sometimes it is just helping struggling veterans to find themselves again.
Jarrett Grube signed a free-agent contract with Seattle in early June, and was immediately reunited with Painter in Triple-A Tacoma.
In their first bullpen session together, Painter noticed a few big changes in the big right-hander’s delivery:
He was not using his front side at all in his pitching motion.
And his arm slot was much, much lower than it had been before.
“I didn’t like what I saw,” Painter said. “He didn’t like what he was feeling.”
You could say at 34 years old, Grube – a former 10th-round selection by the Colorado Rockies in 2004 – was at a crossroad.
“When I first got here, I was real rotational, and the arm slot was lower,” Grube said. “It was something I was working on in Cleveland, and I got into a pattern over there where I was out of sync.”
It might of worked for a while – Grube did sport a 9-0 record with a 2.26 earned-run average last season with Triple-A Columbus.
But this season, he could not match that. At the time of his release in June, he was 0-3 with a 4.43 ERA.
“I kind of needed a restart, a reset,” Grube said.
Painter is sort of known as a “pitcher whisperer” – discovering ways to unlock lost talent or untapped potential. And he was very familiar with Grube, having coached him back in Double-A Jackson from 2010-11.
“This isn’t my first rodeo with him,” Painter said.
And after three uninspiring starts with the Rainiers, Grube showed signs of coming back to life Saturday night against Colorado Springs.
He retired the first nine hitters he faced, including four by strikeout as the Rainiers bolted to a 4-0 lead.
Grube ended up going five innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits.
“I felt more back to normal,” he said.
This is his second stint with the Rainiers. He pitched briefly with them in 2010, then made seven starts with the team in 2011, and eight starts in 2012.
Grube’s career ERA with Tacoma is 6.81.
He isn’t worried about that at all now. He just wants to rediscover what made him effective.
“He is getting better, but it still isn’t where it was,” Painter said. “(Saturday night), those first three innings was the Jarrett Grube I remember.”