The Yankees traded for left-handed reliever Boone Logan this winter, but they also quietly signed 29-year-old lefty Royce Ring to a minor league contract. A first-round draft pick in 2002, Ring has pitched in 94 major league games, holding lefties to a .229 batting average. He uses a side-arm delivery and had a 3.04 ERA with Triple-A Memphis last season.
When did you develop the low arm angle?
Ring: I had a velocity drop in 2004 and came into spring training with the Mets in 2005… I threw really well, but (pitching coach Rick Peterson) just came over and said, I think you should drop down. You’d be more effective. I was still with them, had another three or four years before I could get out of there, so I figured I might as well try it while I’m here. It wasn’t a real unnatural thing for me to do. I messed around with it growing up, played positions growing up, so it’s not like I was just an over-the-top guy my whole life.
Did you change what you threw when you dropped down?
Ring: Not too much. Still kept the same kind of pitches, and actually dropping down, the velocity was just as good as it was. Not (as good as) coming out of college, but I was still throwing the ball well, it was just a matter of throwing strikes. That was the hardest thing my first year. Two weeks of learning how to do it in the spring, then three weeks in Triple-A and I was called up. I didn’t really know what I was doing. Just aim down the middle and throw as hard as I could. There was a learning experience, and I feel like from there I’ve gotten more controlled and my mechanics have become more sound and being able to reproduce it every time.”
What caused the drop in velocity?
Ring: I think, just going from college to the pros, you don’t understand that you’re going to be throwing every day… In college I threw twice a week. If I didn’t feel good, I didn’t pick up a baseball. When I got to professional baseball, my velocity dropped a couple of miles per hour. The year I lost my velocity, I think I created some bad habits in my mechanics. I kind of got pushed through spring training. Nobody really worked with me too much. I kind of fell into bad habits and just couldn’t find it. Then I got into the season and I couldn’t be in the bullpen every day working on my mechanics or I’d be tired for the game. It turned into a tough year for me, but I still threw pretty well considering.
What do you throw?
Ring: Fastball. Curveball. Slider. Change. And then I’m actually working on a knuckleball right now. It’s good some days, and bad some days. It’s something I’m working on. The changeup is really hard for me to throw sidearm, so it’s good some days. It’s an on and off pitch for me.
Would you use it like a changeup?
Ring: Exactly. It’s not like I’m going to go out there and throw 40 knuckleballs. It’s just a pitch for me to change speeds and keep down in the zone and keep hitters off balance.
Did you see a good opportunity with the Yankees after they traded Phil Coke and Mike Dunn?
Ring: Two real good lefties, young guys who could throw. Coke proved himself pretty well, and when he was gone, it just seemed like this was a place where I could come and show what I have and hopefully be a part of one of the best teams in baseball, or maybe the best. I’m not expecting to be handed a job or anything like that, it’s just an opportunity to go out and throw and show them what I can do. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t. All you can control is what you do out there.