Early this season, Vancouver right-hander Ben White
couldn't quite figure out what was going wrong. His earned runs were piling up, but it seemed the more time he took to gather himself, the more runs crossed home plate.
As it turned out, he didn't need more time. In fact, he needed to speed things up.
White has cut back on the time spent between batters, which in turn gives them less time to gather themselves. All of a sudden, hitters don't have time to step out of the box and make adjustments. Instead, another pitch is on the way before they know it.
"I was really trying to work on taking my time to make quality pitches," White said. "I realized that I don't have to take my time to make quality pitches."
The quicker approach has made an immediate impact on his game. In his six starts from June 27 through July 24, he allowed 25 earned runs while striking out 19 hitters. His last four starts have been a clear difference, as he's allowed just four earned runs while striking out 20.
His improvement comes at a perfect time for the Canadians, who are 14-9 in the second half and currently in first place in the West Division. As the defending champions, Vancouver aims to be the first team to win consecutive championships since Salem-Keizer did it in 2006 and 2007.
"Being here last year I got to see us win the championship, and it's hard to forget that feeling," White said. "There are a few guys who are on the team from last year. They know the feeling and just try to keep a level head about it."
After struggling out of the gate, White continued to work with Vancouver pitching coach Jim Czajkowski to try to overcome the adversity he was facing. That's when he sped up his pitching cadence, a change that may have given new life to his professional career.
He's continued to gradually improve, and though he admittedly would like to increase his velocity a bit more, he's happy with the progress he's made while working with the Canadians coaching staff.
"Jim is great in the fact that he tells it like it is," he said. "If you weren't good, he'll tell you. If you were great, he'll tell you the same."
A self-declared "workhorse," the 23-year-old continues to strive to move up in the Blue Jays organization, and the adversity he faced early in his career has helped him develop. Along the way, sometimes he just needs to stop and take it all in.
"I wake up every day, I go to work, I show up to a ball field and a game breaks out," White joked. "It's hard to beat that lifestyle and hard to beat calling that a job."
For the ladies: The Everett AquaSox are holding their first-ever Ladies' Night on Aug. 25. The $35 package includes a ticket to the game, meet and greet with the AquaSox, a T-shirt and a pregame barbecue. Ten dollars of each package will be donated to the Mary Kay Foundation. Tickets can be purchased on the AquaSox Web site.
Movin' on up: Texas Rangers first-round pick Joey Gallo was assigned to the Spokane Indians this week and appeared in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Yakima Bears. Gallo, who plays third base and was the 39th overall pick, set an Arizona League record with 18 home runs this season.
Who's hot? Who's not? Boise first baseman Daniel Vogelbach has six home runs and 12 RBIs in his last nine games. Tri-City right-hander Shane Broyles is 1-0 with 13 strikeouts, one earned run and two walks in his last 11 1/3 innings. Salem-Keizer righty Chris Johnson has allowed eight earned runs in his last four innings, while Everett AquaSox second baseman Jamodrick McGruder has hit .147 in his last nine games.
He said it: "I didn't get to see the last two innings, but obviously something really special happened today, and it's really cool that it was our pro club." --Everett AquaSox first baseman Taylor Ard to Spokane's Spokesman-Review regarding Felix Hernandez's perfect game.