HUDSON, Mass. -- Before Steve Cishek took over as the Marlins' closer at the end of 2012, he learned to control the rush and the excitement of pitching in the big leagues, never mind the ninth inning.
Cishek had a cup of coffee in 2010, then 45 appearances in '11. But the 68 games he pitched last season -- and the 19 save opportunities in particular -- reinforced how important composure is for a Major League closer.
"Even when I first got called up to the big leagues, I learned to take a step back and put all the nerves or excitement out of the way and focus," said Cishek, who is working out at Cressey Performance outside of Boston, near his hometown of Falmouth, Mass. "I feel like I had to do that all over again closing, because it's a whole new atmosphere, a whole other level of adrenaline."
Entering 2013, the 26-year-old with the sidearm delivery is the favorite to close for Miami, and like all successful closers, he craves that ninth-inning thrill. Cishek finished 2012 with 15 saves.
"I love it," Cishek said. "I love the excitement you get out of running out of the bullpen in a major situation. There's no other adrenaline rush like it."
Just being in the Majors at all remains "a dream come true," Cishek said.
Cishek had a 2.69 ERA in 2012, with 68 strikeouts and 29 walks in 63 2/3 innings. He also had a 52.4 percent ground-ball rate, according to FanGraphs.com, and that keeps the ball in the park. Cishek allowed just three home runs last season, and only one the year before.
Cishek said the Marlins haven't told him directly about their plans for him in 2013, but they have indeed said he's the favorite to close, and he's taking the mindset that the job is his.
"No, I haven't really talked to anyone about it," Cishek said. "I filled in last year, so that's pretty much how it panned out last year. So I was pretty much being optimistic about having that job this year."
Like anyone in baseball, Cishek took note of Miami's blockbuster trade with Toronto that sent away a lot of the Marlins' top players. Even if Cishek wished those players were still around, he knows he can't do anything about it.
"You know, it's out of our control," Cishek said. "The front office has a plan and that's what they stick by; they're the ones that make the decision. So with whatever team we have, we'll get together as a family like we did last year and hopefully do something great."
Cishek's workout routine is similar to last year, just trying to improve all around. He just bought a place in Jupiter, Fla. -- convenient for Spring Training -- and he's heading down there just before the new year to move in. He plans to stay for two weeks, then come back to Massachusetts to finish his workouts. He'll be back in Florida again around Jan. 20.
Cishek started throwing this week, but part of the reason he wants to go down to Florida early is so that he can get outdoors. That's hard to do in the Northeast.
"I'm just like any other year, trying to get stronger and get myself prepared for the long season," Cishek said. "It's pretty much just the same thing, making sure I'm physically and mentally prepared to endure a Major League season.
"The workload is pretty intense up there and this is the best place to come to when it comes to getting myself ready, and there's no doubt in my mind I'll be ready for this year as well."