SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Willie Bloomquist was in town for less than a day before he was back in the Diamondbacks’ lineup.
After getting two at-bats and playing six innings in the field in two weeks with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Bloomquist was anxious to do more. He talked his way into the game Sunday in a meeting with manager Kirk Gibson.
“It (WBC) was a great experience, a lot of fun. But I have a season to prepare for. I have to get going. I need to get some game action. I was a little draggy today from all the travel, but I need to start getting into games and start getting the feel,” said Bloomquist, who singled and walks in three plate appearances while playing shortstop.
“That’s what it’s all about, seeing pitching, defensive situations. Just being out there and starting to get comfortable again. That’s what spring is all about.”
David Hernandez and Heath Bell also were back in camp Sunday, two days after D-backs minor leaguer Nelson Figueroa eliminated the U.S. from the WBC with six strong innings in Puerto Rico’s 4-3 victory in Miami.
Bloomquist will play again Monday, Gibson said, before taking a day off. He had two official at-bats as well as a sacrifice bunt and served as a pinch runner once in the WBC.
“He told me he’d been working out for two weeks, he wanted to play,” Gibson said of the meeting. “We have to get him caught up. Everybody is going to have to get lot of at-bats the last two weeks. We have a target number for them all. We’ll utilize some minor league games for most of them,”
Eric Hinske and Didi Gregorius will play in a minor league game Monday, and outfielder Cody Ross is expected to join them shortly. Ross has been out since the first week of March with a left calf strain.
Hernandez and Bell each made two appearances in two weeks for the U.S. Bell gave up one hit and struck out one in two scoreless innings, getting the win in a 9-4 victory over Canada that sent the U.S into the second round. He last pitched Friday. Hernandez gave up four hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings, also appearing against Canada. He last pitched March 12.
“I feel like I’m where I need to be. It would probably be different for a starter. But I don’t feel I need that many appearances to be ready,” said Hernandez, who called the Team USA experience “more than I thought it was going to be.
“The fans were just so much more intense than any regular game. To be a part of it and experience it is something I won’t forget. I would definitely do it again. It just seemed like we couldn’t get the big hit. Pitching is always going to be ahead of hitting in spring training. I don’t think our hitters ever got locked in,” he said.
With the split-squad doubleheader Sunday and a malfunctioning computer system, Gibson said he was unable to watch a replay of Tyler Skaggs’ relief outing Saturday or talk about it with pitching coach Charles Nagy, who on Sunday went to Tucson, where Patrick Corbin started against San Diego.
“It seems like he is overthinking things. He is very mechanical. I know he was trying to correct things on the mound yesterday. He totally lost the strike zone. I think he is certainly depressed from the day he came in here. He needs to just go pitch. We need to get him back to where he is just pitching,” Gibson said.
The longer spring continues, the more it seems as if Skaggs’ long-term development would be best served by him opening the season in the Class AAA Reno starting rotation.
“We haven’t had that discussion,” Gibson said. “I haven’t even watched the (replay). (I’ll) watch it with Charlie and see what he thinks.”
Officially, Skaggs has given up 14 hits and 11 earned runs in nine innings this spring, although those stats do not include his three scoreless innings in an exhibition against Mexico’s WBC team on March 5. He gave up five runs, two earned, and walked four in 2 2/3 innings in relief of Ian Kennedy on Saturday.
Left-hander Wade Miley is scheduled to pitch in a camp game with D-backs minor leaguers on Monday morning. Miley was scratched from a March 12 start because of what he called a dead arm, and this will be his first start since, although he has done his normal bullpen work, Gibson reported, saying Miley “seems to be” OK. The camp game setting will enable the D-backs to monitor Miley’s pitch count, and he probably will throw only 15 pitches or so in the first couple of innings. “Maybe extend him a little bit if he gets going. We wouldn’t let him have a 25-, 20-pitch inning,” Gibson said. … Kennedy, the D-backs’ Opening Day starter, reported no significant injury after being struck below the left knee by a line drive in the fourth inning Saturday. “He’s fine,” Gibson said. Kennedy is scheduled to make his next start against Cleveland on Thursday. … Corbin gave up nine hits in 4 2/3 innings against San Diego in Tucson on Sunday, but he escaped with only one run allowed in an 8-6 victory, although he did not get a decision when the bullpen could not hold a 6-1 lead. Corbin got out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first inning and struck out four.