GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Diamondbacks received some encouraging signs from their starting rotation Monday, when Wade Miley showed well in a “camp” game and rotation contender Randall Delgado had a third straight strong appearance.
Despite missing a start because of arm fatigue, Miley can get enough work to be ready for his first regular-season start on April 3 against the Cardinals, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson believes.
Delgado continued to assert himself in a thinned field for the final rotation spot, pitching five innings in the D-backs’ 5-3 victory over the Dodgers a few hours after Tyler Skaggs was eliminated from the competition and optioned to Class AAA Reno.
Delgado gave up two runs in five innings, the Dodgers scoring twice in the fifth on a groundball single, a bunt single, two stolen bases and another single that drove in two. Gerardo Parra’s throw from center to the plate was in time to nail Dee Gordon, the second runner, but it bounced out of Miguel Montero’s glove.
Delgado and left-hander Patrick Corbin are the remaining candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. And while the D-backs have said that a second lefty to accompany Miley would be the choice in a perfect world, Delgado has come on strong, giving up two runs in his last 10 2/3 innings. He said Skaggs’ demotion would not change his approach.
“I just try to keep the same mentality,” he said.
Delgado was helped by his outfielders Monday. Adam Eaton turned a fly ball into a double play when he caught Andre Ethier returning late to first base on a fly out in the second inning, and Gerardo Parra made a diving catch in center field with one out and a runner on second base in the fourth.
“Everybody played well. When you play like that, you play with more confidence,” Delgado said. “I tried to throw what Montero was calling behind the plate.
One of the pieces obtained from the Braves in the Justin Upton trade, Delgado seems to have settled in nicely in his first camp with the D-backs. He hit 95-96 mph in his previous start, Gibson said, and usually sits in the low 90s, plenty of velocity.
“I do that every year,” Delgado said. “You go a lot of months without seeing a hitter. It was a new team. I talk with everybody, and that makes me feel more confident. I practice every day and try to be better.”
Gibson can see Delgado coming along nicely.
“He is building confidence, no question. He is getting more familiar with his team, his catchers. He just has to trust his stuff,” Gibson said. “He was facing a pretty good lineup today. They didn’t bite on a lot of his secondary stuff. He got in trouble, but he got out of it. He’s trying to get more consistent with his pitches. He’s close.”
Miley hit 93 mph with one fastball and was in the 90s on several others while throwing against a team of Diamondbacks minor leaguers at Salt River Fields. He threw 26 pitches in two innings in what was his first appearance in a game since March 7. He was scratched from a March 12 appearance because of arm fatigue after topping out at 82-83 mph in the previous start.
“I felt good. It was good to get back out there and have some success,” Miley said, adding that the time off “helped out a lot, I guess. It did feel a whole lot better, and I was able to locate. When I wanted to go in, I went in.”
Miley gave up a looping single to left field in the second but got out of the inning on a double-play grounder on a 73 mph curveball, a pitch he is hoping to use more this season. If Miley reports no lingering issues Tuesday, the D-backs believe he will be able to progress quickly enough to open the season as scheduled in the No. 3 spot in the rotation. He has pitched six innings this spring, counting his two innings Monday. His next start could come Sunday.
“Everything looked great,” pitching coach Charlie Nagy said. “It’s one of those things where it really wasn’t an injury. It was fatigue, dead arm, whatever you want to call it. You can take big strides with that. You can go from here to four (innings), to four to six and go from there.”
EATON GETS A BREATHER
Adam Eaton singled, tripled, scored a run and doubled a runner off first base in the first 2 1/2 innings, and that was enough for Gibson to see. Eaton, who started in right field, was replaced on defense in the last of the third inning after tripling in a run in the top of the inning and scoring on a one-out grounder. He slid headfirst into third base on his triple to left-center and left the field between innings with trainer Ken Crenshaw, but no injury was involved. Eaton is hitting .382 with 21 hits in 55 at-bats.
“I just want to slow him down a little bit. Got him a couple of at-bats. He was aggressive on the bases, made a good throw,” Gibson said. “It’s getting him ready. We want to keep him sharp, continue to play him, let him get used to some situations. He’s really engaged in what is going on out there,” Gibson said.