LOS ANGELES -- An increased sense of confidence and some tweaks to his delivery allowed Tyson Ross to emerge as the ace of the San Diego Padres and one of the better pitchers in the National League.
The hard-throwing Ross has always had the stuff, manager Bud Black said, but his confidence lagged.
"I think there is a belief in himself that he might not have had before. There might have been some self-doubt," Black said before Ross took a hard-luck, 2-1 loss Thursday at Dodger Stadium. "I think now he truly believes he's the guy. When you combine that mindset with his stuff, you'll see the type of performances moving forward that we've seen this year."
Ross' performances landed him a spot on the NL All-Star team, the lone Padre selected. However, it took some minor adjustments to his mechanics last season, with an assist from pitching coach Darren Balsley, to get him there, Black said.
"When I first saw him, I thought his stride was too short," Black said. The Padres acquired Ross from the Oakland A's in an offseason trade in 2012. "So we lengthened his stride just a little bit, not a lot. I mentioned to him and Darren collaborated that we were going to lengthen his stride maybe 6 to 8 inches. I think that was the first step."
Black also said they worked with Ross pitching from a slightly more upright position, and Black and Balsley "simplified" Ross' grip on his fastball.
"I think he was trying to do too much with the ball," Black said.
Record-wise, he hasn't much success against the Dodgers. Ross fell to Los Angeles for the fourth time this season Thursday, losing despite pitching a shutout until Justin Turner hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
On the season, Ross is 11-12 with a 2.68 ERA.