Oberholtzer working to improve his curveball

Oberholtzer working to improve his curveball

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer took the mound Sunday for the first time this spring, allowing three hits and one run in two innings against the Braves. Oberholtzer, one of the club's big surprises last year, is using his early spring starts to work on more consistency with his curveball.

"My main objective was working on my curveball and trying to be more consistent with strikes at 0-2, 1-2," he said. "Also, to use it with lefties ahead in the count. I felt like I threw some good offspeed pitches today. That's a positive note. It gives me a foundation to work off a good base. Each outing is a learning experience, and I take it as it comes."

Oberholtzer, who came to Houston from the Braves in the Michael Bourn trade, went 4-5 with a 2.24 ERA in 10 starts in his Major League debut last year, but knows adjustments will be key.

"Any time you can make a pitch better, it will help you," he said. "My fastball and changeup is what got me a lot of success last year, and I know if I had my curveball as well to go along with good fastball location, I'll be on my way."

"He threw some really good breaking balls, which he didn't have last year," pitching coach Brent Strom said. "It's a third pitch for him."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.