Cecil changes it up by mixing in changeup

Cecil changes it up by mixing in changeup

JUPITER, Fla. -- Brett Cecil made his Cardinals debut in Sunday's 7-4 victory and showed a willingness to turn back to a pitch that had been buried in his repertoire in recent years.

Since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2013, Cecil has survived largely with a fastball-curveball mix. The changeup, which accounted for nearly a quarter of his pitches as a starter, mostly faded away. Last year, for instance, it represented six percent of the pitches Cecil threw.

Classic-bound Baker shines in debut

But Cecil used it liberally in his scoreless inning of relief on Sunday, and he suggested that he'll continue to do so as he transitions to a new team in a new league.

"If I can mix that in there as a first pitch and throw it for strikes and throw good ones for swings and misses, it's good for me," said Cecil, who signed a four-year deal with the Cardinals last November. "It's always a pitch that's stayed with me."

That changeup, manager Mike Matheny asserted, could especially be a weapon against right-handed hitters. Last year, righties posted a .799 OPS off the lefty Cecil.

"I don't know why he wouldn't [use that pitch]," Matheny said. "It looked good. I didn't expect to see that from him."

Mayers strong in debut

Despite the forgettable start to his big league career, Mike Mayers reminded on Sunday why he shouldn't be a forgotten prospect. Mayers retired all six Marlins batters he faced, and he did so efficiently, throwing 15 of 23 pitches for strikes.

Mayers K's Yelich

Mayers had a lot to mull over during the offseason as he reflected on his first taste of big league competition. His Major League debut was nothing like he had dreamt it would be, as Mayers surrendered nine runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings. He returned as a September callup and finished the year having allowed 16 runs on 16 hits in 5 1/3 big league frames.

"It was definitely not the way I envisioned it going last year, but I was able to learn a lot," Mayers said. "I definitely think those experiences and those struggles will help me out this year and going forward."

Mayers projects to open the season in the Triple-A rotation and expects to be better prepared when the next call comes.

Worth Noting

Carlos Martinez (Wednesday) and Adam Wainwright (Thursday) have had their first Grapefruit League starts scheduled. This will be the only start Martinez makes before leaving for the World Baseball Classic. Wainwright could have as many as six before the regular season opens.

Kolten Wong, who has been on a conservative throwing program to account for discomfort around his right shoulder, is expected to make his spring debut on Monday. Matheny reiterated on Sunday that the club does not consider this to be a serious issue.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.