Arizona manager Hale says Collmenter is opening day starter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) In one of the least surprising announcements out of Arizona Diamondbacks camp this spring training, manager Chip Hale has confirmed that Josh Collmenter will be the team’s opening-day starter.

Hale said he decided to end speculation Sunday after the 29-year-old right-hander cruised through two scoreless innings, throwing just 18 pitches, in his spring training debut on Saturday.

”We believe in all our guys but he’s got the most experience at this point here in Arizona,” Hale said. ”He’s a good leader. He deserves it. He’s earned it.”

Collmenter was 11-9 with a 3.46 ERA last season on an Arizona team that finished with the worst record in baseball. The Diamondbacks open their season April 6 at home against reigning World Series champion San Francisco.

”It’s an incredible honor to be the guy to take the ball the first day,” Collmenter said, ”and hopefully set the tone for the season, get us off to a good start and we can get some momentum early.”

The right-hander with the unorthodox over-the-top motion has a pitch that tops out in the mid-to upper-80s, relying on control and an effective changeup.

”As long as you get guys out it doesn’t matter what it looks like,” Hale said. ”I’m just glad he had the opportunity. A lot of guys who throw like Josh don’t get the opportunity to throw in the big leagues. He did and he’s made the best of it.”

Collmenter has bounced back and forth from long reliever to starter in his four big league seasons. He has a career record of 31-27 with a 3.42 ERA.

He said he looked forward to ”just everything that goes into opening day, the pageantry and the spectacle that it is.

”To be the one to toe the rubber the first time is pretty special,” Collmenter said, ”especially in my career, having bounced from starter to the pen, and now hopefully I can set the tone and lead by example.”

Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson appear to be the only pitchers who are locks to be in the rotation. Hale has said the competition for the other three spots is wide open.