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D-backs' Stites has put good advice to work

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WASHINGTON -- A pair of adjustments -- one mechanical, one mental -- appear to have been just what D-backs rookie reliever Matt Stites needed.

The 24-year-old, who was acquired in July 2013 via a trade with the Padres, made his big league debut June 19. After some initial success, he began to struggle and his ERA climbed to 6.59 after he was roughed up by the Tigers on July 23.

Stites then got a couple of pieces of advice, one from pitching coach Mike Harkey and another from catcher Miguel Montero.

Harkey suggested that Stites move from the first-base side to the third-base side of the pitching rubber.

Montero told him to stop trying to be too fine with his pitches and to trust his stuff.

"He's more aggressive," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Believes in his stuff and understands the importance of where you throw it and when you throw it. I think right now, he's real confident. He's got a lot more life on his fastball. He's letting it go again. His velocity is back up and his slider is much better."

In his last nine games enetering play Wednesday, Stites had a 1.13 ERA in eight innings of work.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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