MESA, Ariz. — When the Arizona Diamondbacks optioned Braden Shipley to Triple-A Reno on Monday to be stretched out as a starter, it didn’t put to bed the possibility he returns to the majors as a long reliever.
It also doesn’t mean his only chance at playing for the D-backs will come as a starter if one or two pitchers in Arizona’s rotation get injured this upcoming season.
“We were aware of the fact that he could have been a long reliever,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Monday before the D-backs faced the Oakland A’s at HoHoKam Stadium. “We decided this is what we needed to do for him — to be ready as some possible depth in the starting rotation for us — is to get stretched out.
“It doesn’t mean he’s not going to be here as a reliever,” Lovullo added. “It could be. But for right now, we felt like this was the best situation.”
Shipley closes spring with 6.1 frames under his belt. He struck out two, walked one, and allowed seven hits and three earned runs — all those runs were in his only start, his spring debut.
He was joined by pitcher Matt Koch heading to Reno. Additionally, the team assigned INF/OF Jason Pridie and right-hander Keyvius Sampson to minor league camp.
As for the three pitchers, all will be stretched out as starters, but “all can be used in versatile roles is what was explained to them today,” Lovullo said.
Lovullo confirmed Zack Godley, who started before transitioning to a reliever role in 2016, will likely come out of the bullpen.
While Shipley’s third appearance of spring on Friday lasting 1.1 innings indicated he would fall short of a starting role, the move to Reno officially leaves six starters fighting for five starting spots.
Zack Greinke has been named the Opening Day starter, but Lovullo has not officially locked any other player into his rotation. Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin and Shelby Miller are presumed to have the leg-up on Archie Bradley based on their MLB resumes.
Shipley was told before spring he would be considered for a long reliever role if he fell short of winning a starting job, but no such discussion has been had with Bradley, Lovullo confirmed.
“We haven’t quite got that far in our discussions. I think we’re trying to address all of our starter needs and find the best candidates. The competition is still open and we haven’t drilled down our decision,” the manager added.
POLLOCK MAKING PROGRESS
Outfielder A.J. Pollock last played March 12. He tweaked his left groin rounding the bases following his first home run of spring.
On Monday against Diamondbacks minor-leaguers, he ran the bases on his own before taking three at-bats — he didn’t run the bases.
Everything checked out. Next, Pollock will take live at-bats against minor-leaguers Tuesday with the potential step after that being a return to spring training games, barring a setback.
— Outfielder Yasmany Tomas could be right behind Pollock in terms of playing at the D-backs’ secondary fields in the coming days. Out with an oblique injury after a 0-for-17 start to spring, Lovullo isn’t concerned about his timetable.
“We’re not in emergency status right now with him. We feel like there could be reps across all our facility to get him caught up. I still feel there’s plenty of time to get him ready for the season,” the manager said, adding Tomas hit off tees on Monday.
— Relievers Jake Barrett (right shoulder), Steve Hathaway (right shoulder) and Rubby De La Rosa (right elbow) are expected to throw their second bullpen sessions on Tuesday. Silvino Bracho (right thigh) and Kevin Jepsen (right thigh) are expected to throw bullpens Wednesday.
“I saw somebody that was very dedicated and working to make this team and doing everything we asked him to do. He was aggressive in the zone with all his pitches. We had to make a tough decision today.” — Torey Lovullo on what he saw from Shipley this spring.