VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Matt Chico had his best game of the spring on Friday afternoon. He pitched five innings and gave up one run on three hits in a split-squad win over the Indians.
Mechanical changes proved to be the reason for Chico's success. A few days ago, pitching coach Randy St. Claire stumbled upon a video of Chico when he was attending Fallbrook Union High School in Southern California. It showed that Chico had a high leg kick. He stopped using the leg kick in 2005 because the Diamondbacks wanted a much shorter one.
"I think the high leg kick affects his arm path and his arm swing," St. Claire said. "He actually has better lines with the high leg lift than he does without it. His hands work a lot quicker."
St. Claire wanted Chico to revive the high leg kick. Chico agreed and it added more life to his fastball and his left arm wasn't hurting him.
"I felt a lot better," Chico said. "It's the first time I haven't had any shoulder discomfort at all. My pitches were a lot better than they have been in the past."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.