Cosart impresses in efficient spring debut for Marlins

Pitching with chip on shoulder, righty wants to prove skeptics wrong

Cosart impresses in efficient spring debut for Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. -- Two innings may be a small sample size, but Jarred Cosart certainly showed plenty on Sunday at Roger Dean Stadium. The balancing act the 24-year-old is dealing with now is getting positive results while not showing too much.

With Cosart, the best is yet to come, which he hopes is during the regular season.

In his first Grapefruit League start, Cosart breezed through two perfect innings, striking out two in Miami's 5-2 loss to the Cardinals. The right-hander ran his fastball up between 92-95 mph, and his afternoon was finished after 24 pitches, with 16 strikes.

"I really feel like we were fortunate to get this guy," manager Mike Redmond said. "He's going to be a huge part of our staff going forward."

The Marlins acquired Cosart from the Astros last July, and the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is elevating his game.

"There's a lot of different things I'm working on, but at the same time, we're going to see these guys [Cardinals] this year," Cosart said. "We're going to see the Nationals a lot this year. It's being efficient about your work, but not trying to show everything you have."

The glimpses Cosart is thus far showing have been impressive. He's throwing strikes, and commanding his fastball to both sides of the plate.

Cosart combined for a 13-11 record with a 3.69 ERA in 30 starts last year. After joining Miami, he was 4-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 10 starts.

The midseason trade re-energized Cosart, who is eager to prove his critics wrong.

"It gave me a little extra chip on my shoulder, which I've always had," said Cosart, a 38th-round pick of the Phillies in 2008.

Cosart is one of the hardest workers on the staff, and he is gaining insight from veterans like Dan Haren and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. He also credits catchers Jeff Mathis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia for challenging him to throw different pitches in different counts.

"You always want to think you work harder than some of the other guys, but then you see how veteran guys get after it, and what they do in the video room, and how they go about things mentally," the Texas native said. "Things like that, I think [are] really helping me, and having guys like Mathis and Salty behind the plate is expanding certain things I can do in certain counts.

"For the first start, I was really focusing on fastball command to both sides. I'll probably continue to do that going into my next start in that four to five innings range. Then I'll have to start throwing more curveballs and changeups for when I'm hopefully going seven, eight, nine innings when the season starts."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.