D-backs ‘thin’ after injuries, Corbin dominant against Rangers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Injuries didn’t do the Diamondbacks any favors in 2016, when Arizona lost 93 games and finished fourth in the division. Now, the team is wary that misfortune might be hitting them once again.
Outfielders A.J. Pollock (groin) and Yasmany Tomas (back) are day-to-day. Catcher Oscar Hernandez is nursing a right hamstring cramp. Reliever Silvino Bracho strained his hamstring in the World Baseball Classic. Relievers Steve Hathaway and Jake Barrett are “banged up.”
D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said Wednesday that it’s a normal part of spring.
“They’re all nursing some things that are just common injuries for this time in spring training,” he said. “They’re working very hard. They ask their bodies to do an awful lot.”
Pollock, who played just 12 games last year after fracturing his right elbow in an exhibition game, sat out Tuesday after experiencing tightness in his groin on Sunday. In 2015, his last full season, he hit .315 with 20 home runs.
“My thought is, if you wait one more day, it’s going to get you through the rest of Spring Training,” Lovullo said. “If you wait the proper amount of time, it’s going to get you through the season.
“The one thing that A.J. did, and I call this maturity, he felt a little tinge, a little tightness in that leg area,” Lovullo added on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show Tuesday. “In years past, self-admittedly, he would have just powered through that. In this case he thought, let me pull back a little bit and use a little caution.”
Tomas has been out since March 6 with back tightness. He took batting practice Monday, but Lovullo said he’s “maybe” progressing slowly.
“Tomorrow will be another day where we can watch and we’ll evaluate him, ramp him up one more level closer to playing,” Lovullo said.
Tomas is projected to be the Diamondbacks’ starting left-fielder in 2017 after hitting .272 with 31 home run and 83 RBI in 140 games last year.
One silver lining with the injuries is that Lovullo could have license to tinker with his lineup in ways that he otherwise wouldn’t.
“(The injuries are) going to give Jason Pridie a chance to play a little bit of outfield,” Lovullo said. “It’s going to give us a chance to see Chris Owings out there which is part of what we talked about. And then, not to create a new position for anybody — we’re going to give some guys looks out there that we intended to give looks to — but it’s now that there’s more playing time. Instead of getting a five-inning look, they might now get a nine-inning look.”
The Diamondbacks will look to get healthy for their season opener against the Giants on April 2. In the meantime, they aren’t taking any chances.
“When their body’s talking to them, we’re going to listen,” Lovullo said. “And that’s where we’re at right now.”
CORBIN ROLLS THROUGH RANGERS
Left-hander Patrick Corbin made his fourth start of the spring on Tuesday at Salt River Fields against the Texas Rangers. The 27-year-old struggled last year, posting a 5.15 ERA and eventually earning a demotion to the bullpen.
On Monday in a 12-0 Diamondbacks win, he was lights-out.
“It felt great,” Corbin said of his outing. “I feel like every time I’m out there, my arm just feels better and better. It feels like it’s becoming easier to hit my spots.”
Corbin gave up a leadoff single to Delino DeShields to start the game but proceeded to retire the next 12 hitters in a row, striking out four.
He finished the day with five innings pitched, no runs, a hit, five strikeouts and no walks. Corbin was also efficient, tossing just 14 pitches in the first inning, 11 in the second, 10 in the third, 11 in the fourth and 10 in the fifth.
“Fastball down and away (was working),” Corbin said. “We came in a little bit and I was able to throw my slider for a strike a lot. My changeup’s been a pretty good pitch for me the past couple of games.”
Corbin faced 16 hitters and worked to a two-ball count just four times all afternoon, and a three-ball count just once. He threw 42 of his 56 pitches for strikes.
“I felt really strong, even after the fifth, I felt good enough to — if we needed to — go back out there,” he said. “So, that’s a positive. And just throwing strikes — that’s something that I struggled with last year.”
The D-backs bats also came alive against the Rangers, plating 12 runs on 17 hits. Brandon Drury and Chris Herrmann each went 3-for-3 and combined for three RBI. Chris Iannetta hit his first homerun of the spring.
Chris Owings and Ildemaro Vargas also each corked home runs, both in the eighth inning.
— The D-backs announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday, trimming their spring roster down to 53 players. Left-hander Anthony Banda, ranked by MLB.com as Arizona’s No. 1 prospect, was sent to Triple-A.
He’s allowed just one hit and a walk with no runs over four innings of work this spring.
“He needs to develop some more,” Lovullo said. “He needs to continue growing and learning.”
Lovullo added that in the minor leagues, a starting role is best for Banda to get him more work.
— Right-hander Jimmie Sherfy was also sent to Triple-A Reno. Infielder Dawel Lugo, right-hander Frank Duncan and left-handers Daniel Gibson and Jared Miller were re-assigned to minor league camp.
— Though D-backs right-hander Zack Greinke topped out at just 91 mph in his minor league outing on Monday (the big-league club had the day off), Lovullo said he wasn’t concerned about his ace.
“We know that it’s going to take some time for all these guys to build up to what they need to get to,” Lovullo said. “I’m not really concerned about Zack at this point.”
The Diamondbacks will make the short trip over to Mesa on Wednesday to face the Chicago Cubs at their place before their game in Maryvale to play the Brewers on Thursday. Right-hander Taijuan Walker and lefty Robbie Ray are slated as the next to starting pitchers for Arizona.
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