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With the help of Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart trying to add change-up to arsenal

FORT MYERS -- Marlins right-hander Jarred Cosart has been hearing it from pitching coaches for years: he needs to start using his change-up more often.

He knows the pitch will help him navigate through a lineup the third and fourth time through, get him deeper into games and make him a better starting pitcher overall. He just hasn't really ever trusted it enough to throw it in games.

"You get out here and Joe Mauer is in the box and you're kind of like 'Do I really want to do this?'" Cosart said following his second spring start Thursday. "I told myself today, 'You're just going to throw it.'"

Armed with a new grip -- one that he sort of copied off teammate Henderson Alvarez -- Cosart said he threw his change-up about five to six times against the Twins Thursday and got mixed results. He said the plan is to amp up the usage even more in his next start. 

"I got two swings and misses and then [gave up a] ground ball hit," Cosart said in recounting how the day went with his change. "I threw one for a strike to [Twins center fielder Aaron] Hicks on the first pitch. 

"It's going to be a huge pitch for me when we're getting in late in-game situations, sixth, seventh inning. If I get into a 2-0 count I can throw one for a strike and then get a groundball for an out. I'm really happy with the progress."

Cosart, 24, has one of the better fastballs in the game (8.0 value according to Fangraphs ranked 23rd among 87 starting pitchers in 2014). But he uses it a ton (70.1 percent) and ranked as the fifth-most fastball reliant pitcher in baseball last season, using his curveball 25.6 percent of the time and change-up only 4.2 percent of the time (62nd out of 80 starters who threw it with any frequency). 

So, adding the change-up to his arsenal this spring could be pivotal to his success as he makes more and more starts in the majors. He's made just 40 in two seasons and is 14-12 with 3.26 ERA.

"As you can see in the big leagues, you can't just fire heaters," manager Mike Redmond said. "You have to have off-speed pitches and have an out pitch to get these guys out."

In Thursday's 7-6 loss to the Twins, Cosart faced 10 hitters. He gave up four hits, three earned runs, a walk and a home run in two innings of work. He's not too worried about those results because he knows he's experimenting with the change-up and throwing it in pitch counts he normally wouldn't. But at the same time, Cosart said, he wants to grow and progress and not give up runs either -- even if it's just spring.

"Watching any of the great ones, they throw it," Cosart said of the changeup. "Hamels is one of the best in our division. [Max] Scherzer uses it way more now than when he got roughed up a couple times [when he first started throwing it]. It's just a matter of trusting it."

> Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon got a chance Thursday to catch up with his younger half-brother Nick Gordon, the Twins' 2014 first round pick.

A shortstop, Nick, 19, was practicing on the backfields at the Twins spring training complex Thursday morning. After his older brother's game, he was in the Marlins clubhouse hanging out.

"I walked over this morning [to the backfields] and I didn't realize how close we were to [our] stretch [time] and I almost showed up late," Gordon said. "t was my first time seeing him in a professional uniform. It was good."

The elder Gordon said he talks to his brother everyday. "Facetime, text, he doesn't let me breathe," Gordon said. "But that's what a little brother is supposed to do."