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03/01/12 2:43 PM ET

Lyles hopes curveball takes him to next level

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles has been tinkering with a new grip on his curveball and has been thrilled with the results so far, both during his bullpen sessions early in camp and his two live batting practice appearances.

"Hopefully, it could be a big pitch for me," he said. "Having that curveball could be another pitch to take me to the next level."

The new grip was something Lyles picked up while throwing off flat ground.

"I knew I had to work on my curveball," he said. "That was the biggest thing this spring, was to get that curveball in my back pocket that I feel comfortable with throwing like I do my cutter and changeup in any counts. If I could have four [quality] pitches, that could be a big plus."

Lyles, who threw 51.7 percent fastballs last year and 23.9 percent changeups, mixed in his curveball about as much as his changeup. He used the curve early in the counts to get a quick strike or tried to bury it in the dirt late in counts when he needed a strikeout.

"It's coming along," he said. "It's not where I want it to be right now. Like I said, I just started throwing it and it's coming along pretty nicely. I like the bite and spin. I throw with Kyle [Weiland] and he says the spin is really good, and it's shown more promise than other curveballs I've had in the past."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.