Pregame NL Wild Card notes: D-backs saving Walker, just in case
One of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ five starting pitchers won’t play in the NL Wild Card outing.
That would be right-hander Taijuan Walker, who last pitched on Saturday. Manager Torey Lovullo said that the timing made sense, given that the team wanted left-handed All-Star Robbie Ray available out of the bullpen against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on Wednesday.
For Lovullo and the D-backs, it’s about thinking ahead.
“With Taijuan, we felt like he was the one candidate, and we felt like we needed to hold somebody back just in case, and we felt like he was the right candidate potentially to start the next game one in the next series,” the manager said. “It was a tough decision. We felt like we had five quality starters.
“But you have to prepare for today and a little bit for tomorrow,” Lovullo added. “And I think that’s what our front office did really, really well. And we walked through some different scenarios and that’s where we wound up.”
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Many assume Ray could also start in Game 1 of the NLDS should Arizona advance to face the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That series would begin Friday, but Ray could find himself out of the running to square off against the NL West winners in Game 1 if he is needed for an extended outing Wednesday.
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Arizona carries Ketel Marte and backup shortstop Kris Negron — who along with Adam Rosales can play multiple infield positions — into battle with the Rockies.
The team opted against activating shortstop Chris Owings, who said Tuesday he felt strong following a recovery from a finger injury.
“We talked over things in detail and with contingencies and just what you would imagine we would do,” Lovullo said of Owings. “We felt like time had run for C.O. to give us some of the answers we needed, so he’s going to continue to progress. Hopefully if things go the way we anticipate he’ll be available and be considered for the next round.”
Reliever Archie Bradley on manager Torey Lovullo’s pregame message: “Just his overall message of how we’re going to do this together. Some words and emotions that you don’t necessarily hear thrown around a big league clubhouse sometimes about love, caring, compassion and being there for each other on and off the field, and that’s really what guys bought into.
“I mean, I could go over numerous things. People’s family passing away, people having trouble with their pregnancies, (home clubhouse manager Roger Riley’s) mom passing away right before the season. It was a constant throughout the year. We were there for each other. We went to her funeral. We prayed over guys. We prayed for people. We’ve just done everything together. The focus has always been about having each other’s back. That’s been the biggest thing. We’ve had each other’s back from day one.”