Balester returns to Nationals throwing changeup more plus draft notes

The Nationals recalled right-handed reliever Collin Balester from Triple-A Syracuse before Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Balester has gotten into a nice groove at Syracuse. He was 2-0 with one save and a 3.24 ERA in 19 games, striking out 29 and allowing just one home run.

Balester appeared in three Nationals games earlier this season and got roughed up a bit. But he has made an adjustment in his pitch choices. Balester said he has started to throw his changeup more often with positive results.

“My changeup has been a lot better for me down there,” Balester said. “It started more as a show pitch, but now it has become a quality pitch for me. I have been able to throw it to righties and lefties. I want to keep that going That is going to be a big pitch for me as I (return to the Nationals).”

It is difficult to teach pitchers how to take 10 mph off of their fastball, which is the ideal range for the changeup. Balester said he has been able to make an adjustment to his release on the changeup and that has made it more effective.

“It is one of those things where you just hold the pitch,” Balester said. “You hold it and then you throw it as hard as you can. Everyone (used to say) it is too hard. Now, I am just going to throw it and let the pitch do the work for you, just like all my other pitches.”

Notes: The Nationals’ fifth-round draft selection, third baseman Matt Skole, visited Nationals Park. The Georgia Tech star met with team personnel and doctors and got a tour of the clubhouse and the facilities. Skole will report to short-season Single-A Auburn, which begins play June 17.

Principal owner Mark Lerner paid a visit to the George Washington University alumni event Tuesday night at Nationals Park. He spoke with 27th-round selection Bobby Lucas Jr., a left-handed starter. Lucas had his signed contract with him. Lerner joked that he would give the envelope to general manager Mike Rizzo to save on the postage. Lucas is going to report to Viera, Fla., and then likely begin play with the GCL Nationals.

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