Friday wrap: Montero saves Zavada’s outing
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TODAY’S ONLINE STORIES: Remember when the Jose Valverde trade to the Astros looked like a winner for Houston? How is it looking today?
The D-backs beat the A’s today.
The D-backs worked out free agent pitcher Kris Benson at their Minor League complex.
NARROW ESCAPE: Left-hander Clay Zavada had his best outing thus far tossing a scoreless inning. The left-hander walked the leadoff batter in the fourth, but got a double play ball and struck out Travis Buck to end the frame.
It’s been a challenging spring for Zavada, who is trying to work on his curveball to give himself another weapon against lefties while at the same time impressing the staff enough to win one of the final two spots in the bullpen.
It seems in his first two appearances this spring, Zavada was too quick to the plate, which threw off his mechanics and control.
According to Zavada, it was catcher Miguel Montero that got him back on track after the walk Friday.
“The first guy I just felt uncomfortable, but then Miggy came out and basically just calmed me down and said you’re not helping yourself here by trying to think because that’s not my thing,” Zavada said. “That was good coaching on his part. Miggy helped me out a lot. No doubt in my mind it would have been a bad outing if he hadn’t come out and said something to me. It was a positive outing and it could have been ugly.”
It seems he’s starting to get the feel for the breaking ball again.
“I threw a couple of good breaking balls,” Zavada said. “They weren’t way out there, they weren’t hitting the guy, they were down in the zone with good bend and I was real confident behind it, which helps. I wasn’t throwing it with confidence, that was my main thing and today I was.”
Hinch reminded Zavada after his outing not to put too much pressure on himself to be perfect
WORKING HARD: Ian Kennedy had a nice outing against the A’s, but it wasn’t easy.
The right-hander held the A’s to one hit and one walk over three innings, yet nearly ended up reaching his pitch count before he could get through the third. Manager A.J. Hinch said he told Kennedy before the third that he had just 10 pitches left.
After watching Kennedy get out of the inning without going over his limit, Hinch joked that they were going to tell him that before every inning from now on.
“I think I was probably trying to be too fine early on,” Kennedy said of why his pitch count got up there. “Like I would get guys with two strikes and then try to be a little too fine, make it a little too good. They were just taking, they had good eyes and made me throw a lot of pitches.”
Kennedy is a four-seam fastball guy who had fiddled with a two-seamer for a while before finally using it extensively in the Arizona Fall League last year. It was a pitch that worked well for him Friday.
“I feel pretty good with it,” Kennedy said. “I was curious to see how it was when games started, but it seems to still be there. That’s a pitch I need. You look at the best pitchers and they all have it. It’s just a pitch that saves you pitches later on in the game and can get you later in the game.”
So if you’re keeping track at home that means Kennedy’s arsenal includes a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a cut fastball, a curve and a change.
Now, Kennedy is still mainly going to throw his four-seamer, but he’s going to keep working on the two-seamer and he’d like Brandon Webb, who throws one of the best if not the best ones in the game, to show him how he throws his comebacker two-seamer that starts in on a left-hander’s hip and when they give up on it breaks over the inside corner for a strike.
Webb, you may remember, watched Greg Maddux use the pitch and decided to try throwing it and picked it up right away. Chances are it might take Kennedy a little more time.
CAN’T FORGET WEBBY: Webb played catch from about 140 feet and reported that it’s the best he’s felt. We’ll see how he progresses in the next few days, but he seemed very upbeat about it in the clubhouse afterwards.