No secret to midseason turnaround for pitcher other than hard work

Charlie Barnes insists he hasn't changed anything, though it may be tempting to think otherwise.

The left-handed starter for the Lotte Giants went just 5-6 with a 4.57 ERA in the first half of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season -- the kind of performance that can cost foreign players jobs in this "what have you done for me lately?" league.

Since the mid-July All-Star break, though, Barnes has gone 3-0 in four starts with a 1.48 ERA covering 24 1/3 innings.

The latest second-half gem came on Tuesday against the Kiwoom Heroes, whom Barnes held to just five singles over 5 2/3 shutout innings. Barnes would have picked up his ninth win of the campaign if the bullpen hadn't blown a 1-0 lead in the bottom eighth.

Pitching in his second KBO season, Barnes said he is the same pitcher now that he had been before July.

"I don't think there's anything. I haven't changed anything," he said after the Giants prevailed 3-1 at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. "Just try to stay focused on my day-to-day work and my preparation. You know, that's really all I can control."

Barnes struck out seven batters -- four with a slider, two with a fastball and one with a changeup. He threw 93 pitches, 65 for strikes.

"Pretty much everything was working tonight," he said. "I was pleased with how I threw it. I thought I commanded my fastball, and I just attacked hitters."

In their previous game on Sunday, the Giants threw a combined no-hitter, with Barnes' fellow American starter, Aaron Wilkerson, tossing seven shutout innings.

Barnes said he didn't put additional pressure on himself to follow that act.

"I was happy for him, but today's a new day. I controlled what I can," he said. "Obviously, I try to throw a no-hitter every game, but it doesn't always work out like that."

Prior to the game, Giants manager Larry Sutton said Barnes and Wilkerson will be going on four days' rest for the rest of the season. Barnes has mostly pitched on six days' rest this season, but with the Giants trying to make a late-season push for the postseason, he will be relied upon for extra work.

Barnes said he will embrace that opportunity.

"As a competitor, I love to be out there anytime," he said. "I love to pitch. So when (Sutton) came to me and spoke with me about it, I was all on board. Any chance I can get out there, I'm happy to do it."

As for preparing himself for the grind ahead, Barnes said: "I just make sure I get my work in between starts. That's really all I can do."

"My focus going forward is, let's be good every day and try to put a good today and a good today, and that leads to a good month," Barnes said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency