For Josh Wall, the motivation to reach Dodger Stadium began long before he was cut in the final days of spring training.
“I had a mindset,” Wall said Tuesday. “Being up at the end of the season last year, I came in with the attitude of not just showing up to spring and seeing the numbers and saying, ‘I’m going to Albuquerque.’ I’m going to do everything I can to make the team. I just worked on things, got myself in really good shape. Worked on some things mechanically I’d been working on at the end of the season, ran with it and everything was feeling good.”
Wall made his Dodgers debut Monday night against the San Diego Padres, throwing two-thirds of an inning to mop up a 6-3 loss.
He might have made an Opening Day roster in another season, after striking out 12 batters and limiting opponents to a .213 batting average in 12 ⅔ innings this spring. The 26-year-old allowed no home runs and finished with a 3.55 earned-run average.
Besides his new mental approach, Wall tinkered with his mechanics. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, he had a tendency to “get a little crazy” with his delivery, becoming a discombobulated assortment of arms and limbs.
“I took out my big leg kick. Everything’s simpler for me,” he said. “I definitely find myself a better pitcher that way, yes. Maybe not the same power but a better overall pitcher. I can do a big leg kick if I want to reach back and get something if I need to.”
According to FanGraphs.com, Wall didn’t lose anything off his fastball since a year ago. He threw 14 fastballs with an average of 93.6 mph Monday against the Padres, compared to a 93.5 mph average in 2012.
He’s also working on a split-fingered fastball to compliment his fastball and slider. The assortment has served him well so far.
“One thing I told Josh from last spring to this spring, just a huge jump,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “A lot like Stephen Fife. He’s just coming into his own. He’s a big guy, his delivery’s just coming together. He went from starter to reliever. We think he’s got a world of potential. If he can continue to improve the way he’s improved in one year, you never know what you’re going to get.”