Lowe takes McCann's advice, sees results

Lowe takes McCann's advice, sees results

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Mark Lowe tried so many tweaks and adjustments to try to change his velocity and his fortunes last year, it was difficult to track them all. None led them back to the reliable reliever he was for most of 2015.

His latest attempt this spring is an ever-so-subtle tweak to a habit he had in 2015. If it works, he can thank his young catcher, James McCann, for spotting it.

"Mac just said, 'I know there's more in there,'" Lowe said earlier this week. "He said he knew I didn't just lose four miles an hour."

There had to be a reason for it, and McCann compared video of Lowe from 2015 to now to try to find it. What he spotted was an extra split second Lowe was holding the ball in his glove before separating the two to begin his delivery.

"Just a small thing, a millimeter really, but it makes all the difference," Lowe said.

Lowe tried separating ball from glove sooner, and took it into his outing last Sunday. The result was a scoreless inning with a hit allowed, and what he called some of the most free and easy throwing he has felt in two years. He took the same tweak to the mound with him Wednesday and threw a perfect inning against the Braves in Detroit's 8-6 win.

"Right now, it's a subconscious effort to keep telling yourself, 'Get your hand out,' before every throw," Lowe said Wednesday. "It's great, because that's all you have to think about, and it syncs everything else up."

He isn't throwing in the mid-90s quite yet, but he isn't giving up the same contact.

"I don't know what the velo difference is. I don't know if there is any yet," Lowe said. "But I can see it when the ball is jumping. It's got more life to it, so that tells me that I'm getting more [arm] extension and everything is syncing up the right way."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.