Diamondbacks Spring Training: March 24, 2022
Thursday saw another Arizona Diamondbacks spring training workout in the morning. In the afternoon, the team headed to American Family Fields of Phoenix to take on the defending NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers. Taylor Widener started pitching for the Diamondbacks against Brewers righty Brandon Woodruff. The Diamondbacks won, 10–3.
Torey Lovullo Pre-game
Thursday morning at Salt River Fields, the Diamondbacks made the signing of right-handed pitcher Zach Davies official (one year with a mutual option, $1.75 million guaranteed with up to $4.5 million total in incentives; financial details unconfirmed by club). Davies, a graduate of Mesquite High School in Gilbert, should provide depth in the starting rotation. Manager Torey Lovullo said, “We’re pretty fortunate. You look back, he was a 17-game winner not too long ago. He won seven games in a shortened 2020 season. The numbers speak for themselves.
“Last year, I think, was an outlier. But he takes the baseball. Looking at the amount of starts that he’s had per season, he’s very durable. He knows what it takes…. So we’re super excited to have him.” The team is not sure where he will pitch in the rotation just yet. Currently they’re focused on getting him “stretched out for the season.” Lovullo added about Davies being a local, “Any time you can bring somebody home like that is exciting for us.”
The goal this time through the starting rotation is three innings, 45 pitches for every starter. The last pitcher in that cycle will be Friday’s starter, Luke Weaver. Next time through the rotation will see four innings, 55 pitches. Each trip through the rotation will increase outings by one inning and 10 pitches until the starters are fully “ramped up” to the regular-season conditioning level.
Taylor Widener pitched two innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out two. “I felt pretty good,” Widener said of his outing. “It’s always nice to go out there and get the first one out of the way. I’ve been working on a new breaking ball, so it was good to throw that, get some feedback from the hitters, and get a little confidence with just a little bit of success with it. So that’s good. I really liked the shape of my pitches today, and my misses were relatively small misses. And I feel like that’s always a good recipe, so I’m pretty happy with it.
“I felt like my fastball for the most part was hitting my spots and only had one miss that hurt me with it, which was the double down the line. It was supposed to be up and in, but it was more in the middle. The curveball that I’ve been working on, I feel like I got some good swings and misses, (as well as) some that they weren’t too sure about.”
Widener added that he “is definitely going to need a few more” outings in the spring to feel ready for the season. “I’m going to, hopefully, have one or two more outings and then feel good after that.” To build off of what he did in 2021, he said he has to “continue to go out there and just compete. This game is all about ‘between the ears.’ You have to use the confidence when you have success, because you’re going to fail in this game. Have to keep building off of it, keep the confidence, and try and keep it rolling.”
Ketel Marte “felt good” in his appearance Thursday, which was the first time he played second base in a game this spring. “My swing was just a little late, but it’s my second game. I know I’ll be good. Just have to keep working.”
Marte is going to play second base this season, pretty much exclusively, and this makes him happy. “I prefer second base, since it helps with my health,” Marte said in Spanish. “But I’m always going to be available to play whatever emergency position I’m asked to.” When asked if he feels he’s better at second base than center field, he replied, “That’s a hard question, but God gave me the ability to play anywhere. I’ll continue to work with Tony (Perezchica, the third base coach who also works with the infielders), and I think I’m gonna be good at second.”
Torey Lovullo Post-game
Lovullo said of Widener after the game, “He threw the ball really well. It was a matter of repeating his delivery, pounding the strike zone, and identifiable adjustments I think he could have made. But for we need him to be right now, I thought he did everything we wanted.”
When told that Widener felt he needed one or two more outings, Lovullo replied, “Yeah, it’s just that. Our guys were very prepared when they walked into camp. During the blackout period, they did their job and walked in as in-shape as they possibly could have. I agree with (Taylor). The group needs to be out there a few more times and continue to get stretched out. We’ll get them along as far as we possibly can. We don’t want to put them in harm’s way by any means. But they’ll be stretched out. We got a couple more turns for each guy, and I think we’ll be in a good spot then.”
As far as getting the relievers stretched out, Lovullo said they’re “pretty close to the midway point. We’re gonna probably chop away at it a little bit more. We have to make sure that when these guys step into that environment, they’ve been tested with runners on and with back-to-back outings. So we’re starting to cycle through that.
“Monday is going to be an important start day for us, because we’re begin to play the position players back-to-back games. Those are things that are much-needed before we play the season. We’ll do the same with the relievers.”
Diamondbacks spring training continues Friday, March 25. They will hold camp in the morning before a 1 pm home game against the Los Angeles Angels. Luke Weaver will take the mound for the Diamondbacks against Janson Junk in a matchup of right-handers.