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The Red Sox lowered Carlos Marmol’s release point

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Carlos Marmol was once one of baseball’s toughest closers to hit. He didn’t pitch in the majors at all last season and had to settle for a minor league contract with the Red Sox for the 2016 campaign. At this peak of his career, in 2010, Marmol saved 38 games with 138 strikeouts and 52 walks in 77 2/3 innings. What happened?

The Red Sox believe they’ve identified the culprit, WEEI’s John Tomase writes. Brian Bannister, the director of pitching analysis and development for the Red Sox, noticed that Marmol had been releasing the ball at a higher point in recent years, which limited the effectiveness of his slider.

The theory has some merit. Here are his vertical and horizontal release points, via Brooks Baseball:

Brooksbaseball-Chart (1) Brooksbaseball-Chart

Marmol will have to prove Bannister right with a strong spring performance if he wants to make the Opening Day roster.

Steven Souza Jr. injured his left knee

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Almost exactly a year ago, Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza Jr. tore a bicep while diving for a ball in a spring training game. He’d play in only 72 games last year but he really wasn’t healthy for any of them, with the injury and aggravations to it costing him production and causing him pain.

When he started spring training this year he said he’d take it easier in games that didn’t count so he could be ready for the regular season. Sadly, he was once again injured on the eve of Opening Day, crumbling to the ground after injuring his knee while scoring on a double in an exhibition game against the White Sox (video here if you want to see it).

The injury looked bad — he was in obvious pain and could not put any weight on the leg while being helped off the field. He’s undergoing an MRI today and we’ll hear more soon, but it does not look good.

Assuming Souza is out for an extended period, Adam Jones will likely be the Dbacks’ everyday right fielder.