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St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Brett Cecil throws a pitch to a San Diego Padres batter during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Orlando Ramirez)

JUPITER, Fla. • If Mike Maddux heretofore hadn’t been known as a hands-on pitching coach, a recent experience Cardinals lefthander Brett Cecil had should cement it.

Cecil has begun working on a new grip for his sinker, adjusting the placement of his thumb. He said he had told Maddux that “I was having a little inconsistency with the pitch. Sometimes, it would stay straight. Sometimes it would cut. I was getting about maybe one in every three or four to do what I want.”

The thumb placement adjustment took some speed away but added movement, said Cecil. He also found himself impatient, unable to stay back before releasing his pitch — until he received the help from Maddux.

“’Mad Dog’ said, ‘Get ready and act like you’re going to throw the pitch.’ Then he grabbed my belt loop and tugged on it," related Cecil.

"It made me stay back, I threw the pitch and it was at the knees. Hard. It felt really good.”

Cecil called his dad and talked about the bullpen session, “That pitch I threw when he grabbed my belt loop. . . I want to throw that every time I throw the ball,” said Cecil. “My pitches will move if I’m able to stay back like that.”

Cecil, who was late to begin his work this spring because of a personal matter, allowed two hits and a run in one inning in a “B” game appearance on Wednesday.

“I was happy with the way I kept the ball down,” he said. “The only pitches that were up were the ones I wanted up.”


Righthander Alex Reyes threw his third session to minor-league hitters Thursday. The routine was the same —  fastballs and changeups for 20 pitches.

Asked when he might be allowed to throw some curveballs, Reyes said, “Hopefully, soon. I’m going to need that.”

Reyes is rebounding from Tommy John elbow surgery that he underwent last spring.


Non-roster first baseman Rangel Ravelo, who was two for eight before suffering an oblique injury, was returned to the minor league camp.

Rick Hummel

@cmshhummel on Twitter


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