Tucson Padres

Colt Hynes was midway through his second bullpen session of spring training when he saw two men you don't say no to head his way.

Randy Smith, the San Diego Padres' farm director, and Mike Cather, the organization's pitching coordinator, asked Hynes to step off the rubber for a quick conversation.

The two men wanted Hynes to make a subtle change to his delivery that they thought could turn his career around.

Coming off a season in which the left-hander put up a 5.76 ERA for Tucson and let lefties hit .342 off him, the 27-year-old was willing to give it a shot.

What Smith and Cather wanted was simple: They wanted Hynes to release the ball a couple of inches lower than he was. In other words, instead of delivering the ball from above his head, they wanted him to drop down to more of a quarter delivery.

"Their motive for it was to be better against lefties out of the bullpen," Hynes said Tuesday before Tucson's 5-1 win over Fresno at Kino Stadium.

If Hynes ever makes it to the big leagues, a bottle of Dom Pérignon and a thank-you card are in order for Smith and Cather.

The slight change in mechanics has in fact revitalized Hynes' career. Combined between Double-A San Antonio and Tucson, Hynes has pitched 25 1/3 innings this year and given up just two runs. He's struck out 32 batters and has a combined ERA of 0.71.

In Tucson, the former Texas Tech pitcher has given up one run in 13 innings and has struck out 16 batters in 14 games. And as for that whole being able to get out lefties thing; Hynes has struck out 13 of the 24 lefties he's faced in Triple-A, and they're hitting just .179 off of him.

"I talk about him every day," Tucson manager Pat Murphy said. "He's a guy you can't help notice. He's been impeccable. He comes in, and everyone feels very, very confident.

"When you're approached about a change like that, you have to believe it yourself, and you have to trust the people asking you."

And there's the key.

Hynes would be lying if he said he wasn't a little confused by the timing of the request. But, he wanted to get lefties out more and obviously wants to pitch in the major leagues someday.

So he kept his mouth shut and had an open mind.

"I was receptive, but at the time apprehensive," Hynes said. "Because it's like, man, I've been working on so many different things in the offseason and now we're going to start working on this?"

But Hynes did what he was told, and somehow it felt more natural to him than the way he'd been throwing his whole life.

"It's crazy to think as a pitcher you can pitch 20- something years of your life at your non-natural arm angle," Hynes said. "But, one move and it's a totally different thing. I've had positive thoughts and feel good about it.

"Would I have guessed it would go like this? Nope."

Hynes served as a starter for Tucson last season and gave up 190 hits in 126 2/3 innings. A Padres farmhand since being drafted by the organization in the 31st roundin 2007, Hynes started games for the first time in his career last season. He knew entering spring training this year that he was moving back to the bullpen.

He didn't know he was going to open the year a level lower than he finished last year and that he would be doing it with a new delivery.

"It's always exciting when you're pitching well and feeling good," Hynes said. "A big part of the game for players is to take it one game at a time like we always say. And yes, it does sound like a cliché, but, good, bad or indifferent, if you're thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, you're not doing yourself any good. Mentally, I've had a lot of fun playing well between the lines.

"I'm just trying to keep that simple mindset and not get caught up in anything, good or bad."

¡Tus Padres!

• Highlight: Jonathan Galvez, Dean Anna and Cody Decker all hit solo home runs and the Padres outlasted the Grizzlies in the first of a four-game set. Anna went 2 for 4 in the win with two RBIs and two runs scored. He hit his 18th double of the season, which leads the Pacific Coast League. Center fielder Cameron Maybin, with the Triple-A team on a rehab assignment, also had a two-hit night, going 2 for 3.

• Big number: 73: Making his first start for Tucson, right-hander Burch Smith, recently demoted from San Diego, threw 73 pitches over five innings. He gave up six hits and one walk and was on a pitch count. He struck out six.

• Tonight's starters: RHP Sean O'Sullivan (3-3, 4.18 ERA) vs. RHP Boof Bonser (2-4, 6.24 ERA)

Daniel Berk


• What: Fresno at Tucson Padres

• Where: Kino Stadium

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1290-AM

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at dberk@azstarnet.com or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk