D-backs send struggling Skaggs to Triple-A

The three-man competition for the fifth spot in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation was trimmed to two Monday when Tyler Skaggs was optioned to Triple-A Reno.

Skaggs, a left-hander who’s considered one of the team’s top prospects, had struggled for much of camp, making five starts and getting hit hard in all but one. In his last appearance on Saturday, he went 2 2/3 innings and gave up five runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks. Overall, the 21-year-old allowed 11 earned runs and eight walks in nine Cactus League innings.

“Right now, Tyler just needs to go somewhere and iron out a few things mechanically, mentally,” pitching coach Charles Nagy said. “It is best to send him down and let him go do his thing down there and get ready for the season in that regard.”

Nagy said a number of factors snowballed and played into Skaggs’ poor spring.

“You are trying to throw strikes. You are trying to get guys out. You are trying to win a spot in the rotation, and mechanically you are off,” he said. “You don’t have all your weapons out there. It is hard enough to do when you have everything. When you are off and you don’t know how to fix it and you are trying to do all these other things, it’s tough.

“He’s 21 years old. He has a big, bright future ahead of him. He’s still held in high regard in our minds, and I’m sure we’ll see him at some point this season. Right now, it is just in his best interest to go down and work on things.”

Manager Kirk Gibson concurred with that assessment.

“He just wasn’t ready. We thought it was counterproductive. We thought
that was the right thing to do,” Gibson said. “I think he was a little bit relieved, to
be quite honest with you. We’ll get him back on track. He knows what he
is doing. How do you stop it when you are going out trying to win a job
with every pitch? You get into bad habits. When you can’t command your
fastball, that’s not going to cut it. He understands. It
will be a learning experience for him. It’s part of the process.”

The remaining contenders for the last spot in the rotation are lefty Patrick Corbin and right-hander Randall Delgado, one of the pieces received from the Braves in the Justin Upton deal.

Corbin looks to be the leader for the job, having made five strong appearances — two runs allowed in 13 2/3 total innings — and one bad one, a start that lasted just one inning and saw him surrender four runs. On Sunday, he went 4 2/3 innings and allowed nine hits but just one run while striking out four and working out of an early jam. The 23-year-old Corbin logged 107 innings in the majors last year, going 6-8 in 17 starts with a 4.54 ERA, 86 strikeouts, 25 walks and a 1.33 WHIP.

Delgado has had three outings, one shortened by rain to 1 2/3 innings, and should get two more. His last appearance was his most impressive of spring, as he threw four shutout innings and allowed just three hits. The 23-year-old Delgado has made 24 major league starts in his career, all with Atlanta in 2011 and ’12, going 5-10 with a 3.95 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

Also reassigned to minor league camp on Monday were first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, catcher Rossmel Perez, outfielder Brad Snyder and left-handed pitcher Rommie Lewis. None of the four was expected to be on the major league roster.