JUPITER -- Marlins manager Mike Redmond would tell you that Sam Dyson did a nice job Saturday.
Most of Dyson’s work this spring in Jupiter has seemed free and easy, like he has been pitching forever. His ERA is a row of perfect zeros, and he’s only allowed two hits through five innings in the Grapefruit League.
In relief against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Marlins’ January acquisition allowed a single to left field and quickly recovered to close the ninth inning.
“He’s got good stuff,” said Redmond, who saw the 24-year-old in the Blue Jays’ minor-league system. “He did a nice job making an adjustment with a runner on base in picking up his pace. It’s something we’ve been working on with him.”
Dyson was called up to the majors in July for Toronto with only 21 minor-league appearances to his name, and this spring in Jupiter is the first time he has been a part of major-league camp. The Marlins claimed him off waivers.
“It’s worked out for me because I’m just across the state,” he said. “I figured I’d have a job somewhere, it was just trying to figure out when and where to show up for spring training.”
The fourth-round draft pick by the Blue Jays in 2010 has been unlucky with injury, including Tommy John surgery that stalled his path to beginning his professional career.
Through November of 2012, Dyson had been throwing for an entire year, including vigorous offseason workouts. He unexpectedly flew through the minor-league system as a starter and then as a reliever, and he extended his work with a selection to the Arizona Fall League after his fraction of an inning in the Blue Jays’ major-league bullpen.
“Last season was my first full season in professional baseball, so I didn’t really know what to expect,” Dyson said. “I think everybody learns something year to year about their own body.”
This season, things are different. Dyson doesn’t look exhausted, his fastballs are stronger, his sinker is heavier and he has given up on overthinking his approach on the mound.
“I didn’t try to kill myself,” he said, laughing at the difference in his preparations. “Last year, I was overprepared to start the year. … I was running too much, I was lifting too much, I was gassed.”
Physical tolls aside, the Tampa-born Marlin was spending a lot of time in limbo with the development of his third pitch. The Blue Jays wanted him to develop a slider, and he was having trouble executing it.
In Arizona, Dyson mentioned he was losing sleep over it. Now, he laughs when he’s reminded about it; it’s barely an afterthought. He’s not even going to worry about it.
“In the fall league, I was trying to work on that thing so much that I’d forgotten about attacking the hitter and getting outs,” Dyson said of that elusive third pitch.
“That’s the No. 1 thing; pounding the zone. Just attack people. You don’t want to get beat on your third best pitch.”
Dyson’s quick shot to an underwhelming appearance and a 40.50 ERA in the majors is a good example of what Redmond wants to avoid with the younger arms in the Marlins system.
“The challenge is to try not to push guys and rush guys to the big leagues just because they have good arms,” the manager said. “We’ve got a lot more depth down there. We can make sure they get enough innings in the minor leagues and that they come to the big leagues when they’re ready.”
This season, with a clear mind and a fierce arsenal of pitches, Dyson looks like he’s finally ready.