PHOENIX — The journey has been a long one, and while their destination hasn’t been reached, Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez can begin to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
On Tuesday, with the roof open at Chase Field, both pitchers stepped on the mound and faced hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgeries just over a year ago.
“It was awesome,” Corbin said. “I looked at the calendar yesterday and it said 14 months, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been out there on a mound. It was exciting. Everything felt great. I wasn’t thinking about the elbow at all (and) was able to throw all of my pitches and got some good feedback from some of the hitters.”
Corbin threw 20 pitches to four batters, working out of a full windup and set position.
He was then followed by Hernandez, whose surgery came one on April 1, 2014 — one week following Corbin’s.
“Lot of different emotions going on: nervous, anxious, just ready to get it over with,” he said. “I felt good. I’m pleased. I like where I’m at.”
Like Corbin, Hernandez faced four batters, firing 25 pitches — a mix of fastballs, changeups and sliders.
“I just, in general, I hate throwing simulated games to our own guys,” Hernandez said. “I just never really feel comfortable — don’t want to pitch in, obviously. I felt like I made some good pitches and felt good coming out of it, so that’s a good sign.”
The simulated game drew a crowd that included manager Chip Hale, pitching coach Mike Harkey, chief baseball officer Tony LaRussa and general manager Dave Stewart.
“I thought both of them threw the ball well,” said Hale. “Corbin, it looked like he could go out there and pitch tonight, and so did David. The ball was coming out of their hand great.”
Cliff Pennington, Danny Dorn and Jordan Pacheco were three of the hitters to step into the box against the two rehabbing hurlers.
“They looked good,” Pennington said. “They were throwing the ball where they wanted to throw it, and it was jumping out of their hand. It’s exciting, especially if you’re a teammate of theirs or a fan or theirs, because they look like they’re both coming along really well. For me, it’s exciting … Those guys are getting close and it’s going to be nice additions when they get here.”
Corbin is expected to double his pitch count to 40 in another simulated game next Tuesday before making a three-inning appearance in extended spring training.
Hernandez, meanwhile, is planning to throw in an extended spring training game this weekend.
“They’re right on time,” Hale said.