Kennedy finishes his spring 'pretty happy'

BY foxsports • March 31, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Some believe that the more times a hitter sees a pitcher, the more the advantage skews to the hitter.

Not Ian Kennedy.

"Maybe if I had better stuff," Kennedy said with a laugh.

Kennedy, who had enough stuff to go 21-4 last year, was glad to be able to face NL West foe Los Angeles and Cy Young left-hander Clayton Kershaw in his final spring start, even though the Dodgers got three runs off him in five innings of a 9-3 split-squad victory at Salt River Fields.

"I like it. I learned some things today. They have some new players. Sometimes you see things that they are working on. It just gets me more prepared for the season, and it’s really pitching," Kennedy said.

"You have to think your way on the mound, and I like doing that. I like seeing the guys in the box and trying things. Sometimes you try and you succeed. Sometimes you try and you fail. Those are the things that you get to do. You pitch as if it was the season, and you can erase it starting now."

Kennedy, fourth in the Cy Young balloting last season, gave up two runs in the first inning and one in the second, Dodgers’ leadoff hitter Dee Gordon scoring one and driving in another, before finishing with three shutout innings.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson kept Kennedy and Daniel Hudson away from NL West opponents once apiece this spring, but the D-backs and Dodgers don't meet until a two-game series May 14-15 in Los Angeles.

Kershaw, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, ran into trouble with the newest D-backs hitter, Jason Kubel, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning and a leadoff double in the fourth. Both hits were to left field.

"He’s swinging the bat well," Gibson said of Kubel, who hit two line drives Friday against the Angels that were caught.

Kershaw, whose Dodgers open the season with a four-game series in San Diego that begins Thursday, wasn't particularly happy with his outing.

"It's no fun to pitch bad. But it doesn’t count until April 5, so hopefully all these bad ones are out of my system."

Kennedy, who will start the D-backs’ regular-season opener Friday against San Francisco, as 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA this spring, not counting a minor league start.

"I’ve been feeling better and better with everything, command and off-speed stuff. Results aside, I am pretty happy with the way things are going going into the season,” he said.

COLLMENTER REVISITED

In an effort to detect the cause of Josh Collmenter’s spring struggles, Gibson compared video of his Friday start against the Los Angeles Angels (four innings, 10 hits, eight runs) with his performance in Game 3 of the NLDS against Milwaukee (seven innings, two hits, one run) to check mechanics, location, etc.

“When you see something, you ask yourself why. Sometimes it’s just a mechanical thing and you don’t realize you are doing it. It’s usually pretty obvious what is going on, but the question is why, and can it be corrected?” Gibson said

“I don't have the answer. It’s just consistency with his pitches. He’s been more down than up this year.”

Collmenter is 0-4 with an 11.81 ERA in 16 innings this spring. He is to start against Milwaukee on Tuesday, although he will be on a low pitch count in preparation for his first regular-season start, which is scheduled for April 8 against San Francisco at Chase Field. Collmenter was 10-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 154 1/3 innings last season.

“In spring training, you really overblow what happens. It’s way different than the regular season. I still have confidence it will be fine,” Gibson said, seeming to confirm Collmenter’s spot in the rotation by adding, “I certainly wouldn’t make a rash decision, a quick decision, on anything.”

Young starters Wade Miley, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin remain in camp.

OFFENSE IN SURPRISE

Geoff Blum hit his first home run of the spring and A.J. Pollock hit his third when the D-backs’ other split-squad team beat Kansas City 10-3 in Surprise on Saturday. Both homers came off left-hander Danny Duffy, who is expected to open the season in the Royals’ starting rotation. Pollock led off the game with a homer.

Henry Blanco, who became the third catcher at least 40 years old to triple in a major league game when he did it last Sept. 24, hit a two-run triple in the fifth.

SUNDAY PROBABLES

Daniel Hudson (1-0, 2.57 ERA) will make his fifth and final spring training start against Chad Billingsley (0-0, 4.91) in a rematch against the Los Angeles Dodgers, this time at Camelback Ranch at 1:05 p.m. Hudson has had a strong spring, as he has 14 strikeouts and just two walks in 14 innings while holding opponents to a .163 average.

Left-handers Craig Breslow and Mike Zagurski also are scheduled to pitch for the D-backs. If Breslow goes, it would be his first back-to-back appearance of the spring. A candidate as a long reliever, Breslow gave up three runs on four hits in one inning against the Dodgers on Saturday.

NOTES

Right-hander Brett Lorin, a Rule 5 pick from Pittsburgh this winter, will remain in the organization and open the season at Class AA Mobile after the the D-backs swung a trade with Pittsburgh. Lorin, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who attended the University of Arizona and Long Beach State, was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in eight relief appearances this spring. He gave up six hits, struck out seven and walked only one in nine innings. ... Second baseman Aaron Hill was sent home early Saturday with flu-like symptoms, or "the crud," as Gibson called it. Hill is on over-the-counter medications, and Gibson said he preferred Hill take the day off with the regular season less than a week away. Taylor Harbin, who hit .270 with eight homers as a member of Mobile’s Southern League championship team last year, played second against the Dodgers while Cody Ransom played second against the Royals. ... The D-backs raised $1.7 million to benefit the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation at the Evening on the Diamond fundraising event at Chase Field on Friday. Among the items purchased in a blind auction were a five-day hunting expedition with manager Kirk Gibson. ... The Justin Upton Field at University Park will be dedicated next week, the 32nd field built by the team for use by youth teams in Arizona.

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