PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres pitcher Clayton Richard allowed five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in a loss to the Cubs on Monday, but found something mechanically during the start that he hopes will serve him well moving forward.
San Diego pitching coach Darren Balsley noticed that Richard had been working at a lower arm slot than usually recently, and the two worked on the side to raise his arm in his delivery.
The results? Richard got 10 ground-ball outs and was much more efficient than he had been previously, as he needed 74 pitches to get 19 outs, his longest outing this spring.
"The change is so minimal, but it makes a big difference," said Richard, who allowed seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts. "[It allowed for] better action on the fastball, better command, pretty much everything it helped out with."
Richard, who will likely make two more starts in exhibition games before Opening Day, was encouraged with how he was able to get outs -- on the ground.
"Being able to keep the ball down with movement is a good sign," Richard said.
The Padres haven't named their Opening Day starter for April 1 against the Mets at Citi Field, though it will either be Richard or Edinson Volquez, who got the start on Monday in the World Baseball Classic semifinal against the Netherlands.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.