OAKLAND -- Late last year, it seemed like the Angels found a future bullpen force in Nick Maronde, who gave up only one earned run in six innings -- spanning 12 outings -- and struck out each of the first four batters he faced in the Major Leagues.
Fast forward to 2013, and Maronde is struggling mightily with his release point.
On Tuesday night, he came out of the bullpen in the sixth inning, threw four straight balls to the lefty hitter he was brought in to face, John Jaso, then threw a wild pitch, exited the game and was sent back down to Double-A Arkansas later that night.
"That was rough," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had high hopes for Nick coming out of last season. I thought he presented himself very well and pitched well for us last year. [He] had great mound presence. He had a rough Spring Training where he struggled with a lot of things, as far as his command and his breaking ball, and he just hasn't put it together."
If you combine Maronde's Cactus League appearances in Spring Training with his numbers from Double-A and what he did in three appearances with the Angels, the 23-year-old left-hander has given up 20 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings, walking 18 batters and striking out 24 batters.
Observers believe Maronde fell in love too much with his slider and changeup, causing him to lose command of his fastball and frequently fall behind in counts.
"I think I've been falling behind in counts, starting from Spring Training," Maronde said recently. "As long as you get ahead in counts, you get away with more pitches. That's what I need to get back to doing -- jumping ahead, staying ahead."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less