Results tagged ‘ Rodrigo Lopez ’
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.”
CONGRATS TO KENNEDY: Ian Kennedy was told following Saturday’s game with the Indians that he had made the team.
Not a real surprise given not only the fact that they traded for him, but also because he’s pitched very well this spring.
About the only question is how many innings the D-backs will be able to get from someone who missed most of last season. It would not be surprising to see the team give him an extra day of rest here and there to try and keep that innings total down.
RIGHTING THE SHIP: While the day’s news belonged to Kennedy, the pitcher who may have helped himself out the most Saturday was reliever Clay Zavada, who has struggled throughout the spring.
The D-backs would really like to have a lefty in their bullpen and they are certainly tempted by the potential of Jordan Norberto, who has pitched better than anyone not named Juan Gutierrez this spring. The issue is the lack of experience for Norberto, but again he’s been so good that it’s not completely out of the question that he makes the team.
Anyway, Zavada had a much-needed 1-2-3 inning against the Indians.
“I’ve been battling,” Zavada said. “I’ve been working to get my tempo back and I’m starting to see better results. It’s been a bumpy road, it’s been tough. I’ve been working hard and I’m going to keep working hard.”
“It’s amazing what a clean inning can do for confidence,” Hinch said. “I think it was a good outing for him, for us.”
NOT SO GOOD NEWS: A.J. Pollock, the second of two first-round picks the D-backs in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft underwent surgery to repair a fractured elbow Friday.
The center fielder suffered the injury when he attempted to make a sliding catch during a Minor League game last week.
GM Josh Byrnes said Pollock could be out around two to three months.
“I’m glad he signed early and had a full summer last year and we’ll get him out there and then conceivably in the [Arizona] Fall League,” Byrnes said.
Signed out of the University of Notre Dame, Pollock is a polished player, who hit .271 last year at Class A South Bend and was expected to begin the 2010 season at high-A Visalia.
TUCSON APPRECIATION DAY: Sunday will be Tucson Appreciation Day when the D-backs play host to the Brewers. The festivities will commemorate the organization’s 13 years of Spring Training in Southern Arizona. All fans in attendance will receive a pennant honoring the D-backs’ Spring Training in Tucson.
It will be an important day for Lopez, who will get another chance to claim the No. 4 spot in the rotation. The D-backs will face left-hander Doug Davis, who pitched for them from 2007-09 before departing via free agency.
A.J. Hinch sounded a little exasperated.
With Opening Day less than two weeks away, there is still an opening for the No. 4 spot in the rotation as well as some spots at the back end of the bullpen.
“I’m waiting for one of those guys in the group either bullpen or the starters to come up and grab these spots,” the D-backs skipper said. “They’re open for the taking. I’m waiting for somebody to stand out above the rest. The group that’s competing for the last bullpen spots or the rotation it would be nice to get [someone] to win the job and stake their claim to the spot. It’s still wide open.”
Wednesday was Billy Buckner’s turn to impress and he was not able to make it out of the fourth inning as he allowed five runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings.
“He started out great and then he lost his delivery and got a little quick,” Hinch said. “He was trying to control the running game so it was the tale of two different outings. Early on I thought he was in command of the game and then it got away from him a little bit, that ran his pitch count up and he got in trouble.”
The other two contestants for the rotation spot — Kevin Mulvey and Rodrigo Lopez — threw in Minor League games Tuesday.
Lopez threw four innings while Mulvey pitched into the fifth before being hit with a comebacker. He was removed from the game after that as a precaution, but was not injured.
“They both threw well,” Hinch said. “Mulvey had a slightly better day than Lopez. They both got their work in and both got their pitch counts up.”
Yet neither put a choke hold on the job. Same deal Wednesday. All that was accomplished Wednesday is another day came off the calendar.
“That’s the way I felt like today was, nothing really gained by anybody,” Hinch said. “It’s close to the season so it’s time to move forward. There’s still a lot of time so I’m not overly concerned, but the outings are getting smaller and smaller by the day. I’m not frustrated as much as I’m eager for someone to win the job.”
As for the bullpen neither Clay Zavada nor Blaine Boyer pitched particularly well.
On the bright side, Aaron Heilman was sharp in his one inning of work and Zach Kroenke got the lone lefty he faced out. Leo Rosales also tossed a shutout inning.
BENSON START: A name to keep in mind for the rotation for when the D-backs need a fifth starter April 17 is Kris Benson, who was signed to a Minor League deal recently.
Hinch said he would like to see Benson in a Cactus League game at some point before the month is out.
UPTON OK?: Didn’t seem like too many people were worried about Upton’s ankle injury, a sign that it’s probably not very serious. Upton did not have any ice on it when he met with reporters and he seemed to be walking fine.
Hinch even said he had him penciled into the lineup for Thursday.
Tuesday is the lone scheduled off day of the spring for the D-backs.
Not everyone, however, will get the time away from the ballpark.
Kevin Mulvey and Rodrigo Lopez, who are both battling for a spot in the rotation will start Minor League games Tuesday as a way to get some extra work in.
The pair have not gotten as much work as others because they have split up their starts. Lopez, in fact, was so efficient with his pitches in his last outing against the A’s that he threw just 31 pitches in three innings and had to go to the bullpen to throw more.
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GETTING BETTER: Reliever Esmerling Vasquez, who is battling for one of the final two or three spots in the bullpen has pitched better his last couple of times out with his velocity picking up.
“He is pretty dynamic when he’s in the strike zone,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said of him. “With a guy who is 92-97 [mph] with his arm angle, he makes it tough on the hitter when he gets strike one. He’s not too far removed from that stretch last season where he was probably our most dominant reliever.”
KEEPING IT CLOSE: It’s been a very good spring for infielder Tony Abreu, but infielder/outfielder Rusty Ryal is keeping things close in the battle for the final bench spot. Even when Ryal has not gotten a hit he has tended to hit the ball hard.
“I’ve said all along, I think Rusty is one of the few guys that we have in camp that can play a bench role and have a chance to hit the ball out of the ballpark every time he steps in,” Hinch said. “He’s a strong hitter with a lot of power. Ryal is living up to our belief that every time he gets in the batter’s box you feel like something good is going to happen and he’s going to hit the ball hard. That’s a nice weapon to have.”
Hinch has worked recently to try and simulate the situations guys could find themselves in during the regular season, for instance using Ryal as a pinch-hitter against a left-hander.
COMPETITION? WHAT COMPETITION?: Lopez said he has not paid close attention to what people are saying or writing about his battle to claim a rotation spot.
“I’m satisfied with my job and what I’m doing over there,” he said. “I’m not going to worry about the competition. This is a team and I’ve got to take care of my business first and try to help the team. That’s what I’m here for. I’m not reading much in the paper and don’t watch much on TV. I think if I pitch good and pitch the way I have pitched in my career, I’ll have a spot in the big leagues.”
TAKING A DAY: I will be off tomorrow so no blog or tweets, but I will be back at it again Saturday.
Here are a few notes from today:
Well, what do you know, the sun came out today in Arizona and it actually felt like Spring Training again. With that in mind, here are some notes from today:
— I’ll write more in detail about this in the next few days, but closer Chad Qualls has looked very good so far this spring from a health standpoint and that’s great news for the D-backs.
Qualls dislocated his left knee at the end of August and eventually had to have surgery. He puts a lot of pressure and torque on his left leg in his delivery and so far it has given him no problems this spring.
It usually takes Qualls a little while to get going during camp, but GM Josh Byrnes said today, “He looks sharp right now.”
— Found out something interesting about Rule 5 draftee Zach Kroenke. Since this is the second year in a row as a Rule 5 pick (last year the Marlins took him and sent him back to the Yankees in March) the his situation is different than most Rule 5ers.
If the D-backs decide to take him off the 25-man roster at some point this year and he clears waivers he can choose to become a free agent rather than be offered back to the Yankees as is the case with most Rule 5 picks.
— Speaking of rules and contracts, none of the D-backs non-roster invitees have opt-out clauses in their contracts that would allow them to be free agents if they do not make the team. That includes veteran Rodrigo Lopez who is a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
— D-backs manager A.J. Hinch is anxious for Wednesday’s first full-squad workout. There’s been so much buildup about the fresh start and what it means coming on the heels of last season that Hinch said it will finally feel real when the whole club is in place.
Would like to be a fly on the wall for his talk to the team Wednesday as he said he is going to try and set the tone for the season.
— Each camp there’s a player that seems to generate buzz. Early in camp this year it’s left-hander Jordan Norberto who has drawn praise from both Byrnes and Hinch.
Judging by the way the staff has been talking about Norberto he could see time at the big league level this year if he is able to harness is outstanding mid-to-upper 90s fastball.