Positive Bradley attacking D-backs competition after tough ’14

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The temperatures have cooled around D-backs pitcher Archie Bradley.

The first-round pick from 2011 still appears highly-ranked on prospect lists — a spot ahead of teammate Braden Shipley at 25th on Baseball America’ top 100 list. But already, at the age of 22 years old, the luster to his potential is fading.

Despite the Diamondbacks having only one lock in the starting rotation, Josh Collmenter, Bradley’s chances of making the team are as likely as those of any other prospects. This a year after he believed he had a very good shot at making the club.

Answers to the D-backs’ questions atop the mound haven’t been solved through two days of workouts, especially without the help of live hitters. Bradley, after dealing with injuries the past two years and fighting rocky stints at times in the minors, soon will make his case that going 54-2/3 innings with a 4.12 ERA at Double-A Mobile and 24-1/3 innings with a 5.18 ERA for Triple-A Reno in 2014 isn’t where he projects this year.

"I thought it was pretty bad," Bradley said. "I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’ve put in a lot of work mechanically, try to change some things and get better and I’m looking for a bounceback year.

"I’m a very positive and upbeat guy, and for me to go through those struggles of something I’ve never gone through before, it was tough at times. I feel like it’s only going to help me this year and throughout my career."

The positive way to look at it for the positive mind is this: Bradley’s chance at making the opening day roster is good with every player starting with a blank slate under a new staff. Bradley credited them with making sure his mind was right, and it’s a good thing Hale and Co. are approaching his past with an open mind.

"I always look at the past to learn, but never think a guy can’t improve on that," Hale said.

On Saturday, the competition remained wide open, but Hale gave a few not-too-surprising hints at which pitchers will work into what roles.

HIGH HOPES AWAIT D-BACKS IN 2016

Randall Delgado, Daniel Hudson and Vidal Nuno could flip-flop from starting roles to helping out in the bullpen, as they have in the past. Bradley, Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair, the three pitchers who appear on Baseball America’s top 100 prospect list, will be treated as starters throughout the spring, as will newcomers Allen Webster and Robbie Ray.

Of the group of youngsters, Bradley’s career has been filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows. Maybe that experience gives him an edge.

"I think he is here to make the team," Hale said. "I think that’s his mindset, and that’s what it should be."

— Two days after outfielder Mark Trumbo won his arbitration case to earn $6.9 million this season, he appeared at camp. Position players report Tuesday and will begin practice on Wednesday. Said Hale: "I’m sure he’s in good spirits."

— Hale watched 30-year-old lefty Matt Reynolds pitch and liked what he saw, especially from the splitter. Reynolds is returning from Tommy John surgery and is improving well. The D-backs picked up a team option on Reynolds’ contract at the end of October.

— Hale said non-roster invitees Dan Runzler and Justin Marks, both lefties, stood out Saturday, and that special assistant Dave Duncan liked what he saw from lefty Will Locante.

— Hale on how he’ll distinguish pitchers that will win the roster spots: "When you talk about mixing the analytical part of the game with us now, you have to look at all those numbers. But when you watch a guy and what he does during the game and the success he has, does he want that ball for that extra inning? And when things get tough, can he get out of the tough situation? Those are the guys we’re looking for."

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