D-backs 3, Reds 0: Archie Bradley makes a statement

Archie Bradley gave up one hit and walked three in six shutout innings on Wednesday vs. Cincinnati.

Ross D. Franklin/AP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — By his words and his play, Archie Bradley desperately wants to make the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster.

A day after he pitched a 7-5 win against the San Diego Padres’ dangerous lineup on March 21, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale admitted the performance alone earned him more looks. Connect the dots to Wednesday, when Bradley pitched six innings of a 3-0 shutout of the Cincinnati Reds. The scoreless, one-hit, three-walk, two-strikeout performance became a statement during another showcase opportunity for the D-backs’ top prospect.

"I don’t care how I make this team, if it’s as a stinking water boy, I literally don’t care," Bradley said. "I want to be part of this team, I want to help them win."

The how to that desire has taken a few twists and turns in the last few days.

The volume of skepticism has crescendoed at the Diamondbacks’ floated idea of allowing Bradley to make the Opening Day roster as a long reliever. That seemed to be his only option entering Wednesday with the starting rotationnamed Monday, but Bradley’s efficient performance against Cincinnati had Hale pumping the brakes afterward.

"He’s definitely pushing," Hale said when he was asked if there was any shot of Bradley becoming a starter. "We’ve named our five, but he’s pushed the envelope. This is all the way down to the last possible chance he’s had. He’s looked great. We’ll have to sit down and evaluate everything."

And maybe Bradley indeed starts his big-league career in the bullpen. That’s OK to him. For the detractors who don’t believe it’s the best course for a future starting pitcher, Bradley will remind you that taking the bullpen route turned out OK for Arizona’s Opening Day pitcher, Josh Collmenter.

Bradley went nine up, nine down to start his final spring outing.

After Arizona put three runners across the plate in the fourth inning on a no-out, bases loaded triple by Yasmany Tomas, Bradley got in his first and only bind, walking lead-off man Brandon Phillips and then Todd Frazier to begin the bottom of the frame. Bradley responded well, forcing a flyout by Marlon Byrd and then a 6-4-3 double-play to get out of the inning.

Remaining calm has been part of his learning process.

"It’s funny because as a pitcher, you want to work quick, but at the same time when you get in situations like that, they talk about slowing the game down," he said.

The D-backs can’t get too enamored with one outing and must remember his spring as a whole. Bradley has pitched 22 1/3 innings this spring, allowing six runs and 20 hits with 14 strikouts. His ERA in that small sample size sits at 1.61. 

Wednesday’s outing clearly changed the conversation about Bradley. Hale said before the game he’d put a lot of stock into the performance.

"It’ll weigh a lot," the skipper said. "It’s the last thing you remember for a guy. A lot of times you try to look at the whole spring and the big picture, but we are starting the season on Monday, so you want guys throwing the ball well going into it."

Josh Collmenter: In a Triple-A game, the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starter went five innings, allowing six hits and his first earned run of the spring. He struck out six, walked three and threw 76 pitches.

Robbie Ray is in the mix for a final bullpen slot, but Bradley’s performance may have locked the left-hander out of the competition. Nonetheless, Hale liked what he saw as Ray went three innings, allowing one hit, two walks and three strikeouts. "He did well," Hale said. "He had a few little spots in there where he lost his command, but he got it back and he overmatched hitters, whether he got ground balls or strikeouts." . . . The catching position may be dictated by the other roster decisions moving forward. "We’ll pick the two best guys we think can handle the (pitching) staff," Hale said. "If there’s room, a third guy could be in the mix for that 25th spot" … Hale, on whether talking to the front office and his staff changes his prior opinion on making a decision: "When we talk I always want to have an open mind. Your eye sees things and you don’t want to be tainted by what you just saw, the big picture. Definitely you go back and forth, but you have to trust your gut in the end." … Another big if: If Bradley or Ray take the final pitching opening on the roster, they will stick on the roster no longer than a month if they aren’t receiving a good number of innings, Hale said. On that timeline, the D-backs would either send them to the minors or have to put them in the five-man rotation.

CARDINALS CORNER

Rule 5 pick and catcher Oscar Hernandez said he is three weeks out from taking batting practice. He is 20 days removed from hamate surgery on his left hand and was expected to take six weeks to recover.

White Sox vs. Diamondbacks, Salt River Fields, 12:10 p.m.

Probable pitchers: Arizona — RHP Rubby De La Rosa, RHP Addison Reed, RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Evan Marshall, LHP Oliver Perez, RHP Daniel Hudson, RHP Enrique Burgos. Chicago — LHP Jose Quintana, LHP Dan Jennings, RHP Matt Albers, RHP Zach Putnum, RHP Kyle Drabek, RHP Javy Guerra.

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