Marmol gets a grip as spring progresses

Carlos Marmol has a 7.56 ERA in nine spring appearances. Allan Henry/US Presswire

MESA, Ariz. -- It’s one thing for closer Carlos Marmol to ditch his ineffective cutter this year, but that’s not the only fastball change he is working on.

The grip on his regular fastball has changed as well, getting his fingers more on the seams when he throws.

“He’s getting the ball to sink,” manager Dale Sveum said. “There’s more control of the fastball when the fingers are on the threads than throwing dry spitters.”

His progress with his new fastball is starting to show up in his results. While he was struggling early in Cactus League play, he now has a streak of six consecutive scoreless outings and three consecutive since returning from a hand cramp that occurred while pitching in a game.

“He’s gotten ahead with or back in the count with [the fastball],” Sveum said. “He’s staying away from the two-ball counts or the 3-1 counts and putting himself in a situation where if he goes 1-0 he gets back in the count with the fastball and then can throw a slider.”

Asked if Marmol will be used for four- or five-out saves this season, Sveum didn’t say it was out of the question, but he didn’t sound like he liked the idea either. But as long as Marmol stays away from the 40- and 50-pitch saves for the most part, it will help with how often and how long Sveum can use his right-hander.