Daily D-backs Wrap: March 28
A.J. Hinch stopped short of saying that Rodrigo Lopez had locked up a spot in the rotation, but it sure seems like the right-hander did just that with 5 1/3 shutout innings against the Brewers on Sunday.
“Very good,” Hinch said of Lopez’s performance. “That’s as good as he’s looked all spring and he’s had a good spring. He executed his pitches.”
So what else does he have to do to make the team?
“He’s doing all he can to make this team,” Hinch said. “Just keep pitching. We’re in no rush to judgment here ,but I’m happy with how he’s thrown the ball this spring.”
“I want to stay with the team,” Lopez said. “I think I can help them. I’ve just got to stay focused.”
It is not surprising that Hinch did not just come out and say Lopez was the guy considering that the other two pitchers competing for the spot — Billy Buckner and Kevin Mulvey — both are slated to pitch Monday night against the Padres in Peoria.
So what would they need to do tomorrow night to change how things stand right now?
“I don’t know,” Hinch said. “They need to pitch well. Lopey’s done a nice job of putting pressure on those guys and staking his claim on why he should potentially make the team. It’s good see. It’s good to see him come out and do well. It’s good for our team, it’s good for him and it creates a competitive situation.”
Has he put himself in a pretty good spot?
“Lopey’s put himself in a great spot,” Hinch said. “Each time out he’s executed his pitches. I’m happy with the way he’s thrown.”
After starting off the spring on the right foot, Buckner has allowed 13 runs in his last 5 2/3 innings and has an 11.66 ERA this spring.
Mulvey, who last pitched in a Minor League game last Tuesday, has a 3.68 ERA in three Cactus League games.
MAYBE THREE: Hinch on Saturday announced that Ian Kennedy had made the team, but did not say whether the right-hander will start the third or fourth game of the season.
“I’m not ready to back myself into the decision yet,” Hinch said.
One of the factors that works in Kennedy’s favor is the third spot in the rotation will get some extra off days during the month of April. That is the spot they had initially targeted for Brandon Webb for that reason.
SPEAKING OF WEBB: Nothing much new on the Brandon Webb front. The team is now having him throw from flat ground in “sets”, in a way simulating innings. That’s what the right-hander did Sunday morning.
“It went well,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “We incorporated a little higher intensity, a little higher volume. We did sets. I don’t think it simulates innings. The ball is a little better. It’s not game ready or anything like that, but he looks a little stronger for longer periods of time and that’s a good sign.”
After the sets, Webb threw between five and seven balls off the mound, starting behind the rubber and stepping in front of the rubber and throwing.
“It was a little unexpected, but he felt good enough to do it,” Hinch said. “Really all that does is change the angle of the throw and where his land foot is. It gives him something different in his program that isn’t so monotonous and boring.”
Hinch is well aware that the next week or so is going to be tough for Webb, who will begin the season on the disabled list.
“The first part of the season will punch him in the gut too because he’s not ready,” Hinch said. “It’s difficult mentally and physically to watch the rest of your teammates getting ready for Opening Day. We’re trying to alter his program to try and continue to push him forward.”
HEALTH MATTERS: Other than Webb, the D-backs right now do not have anyone else set to start the season on the DL.
“We’re a healthy team and that’s a good sign,” Hinch said. “I’m very pleased with the life that we have in our bodies. We’ve gotten over the lull of the middle part of Spring Training and I see plenty of energy and readiness.”