ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Greg Holland working into form as D-backs look at bullpen options

Mar 4, 2019, 5:57 PM | Updated: Mar 5, 2019, 11:46 am
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Greg Holland throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the four...
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Greg Holland throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the fourth inning of a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, March 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Archie Bradley and Yoshi Hirano are known factors. The former will attempt to rebound from a relative down year in his third go-around as a key Arizona Diamondbacks reliever. The latter is heading into his second MLB season after a successful first campaign as a 34-year-old rookie.

After that, who knows?

The most well-known newcomer to the D-backs bullpen is 33-year-old veteran Greg Holland, who last year posted very different results splitting the season with the Nationals (0.84 ERA, 24 games) and Cardinals (7.92 ERA, 32 games).

It’s a fresh start in Arizona for Holland, who on Monday played his second game this spring.

“The only opportunity I wanted was the opportunity to win and pitch in some high-level situations,” he said of signing with the D-backs. “I’ve been in this division before. It’s a tough division and I like that, I like the competitive nature of it.

“I look forward to the season starting. That said, I’m not quite ready for it to start.”

Holland earned his third All-Star appearance with the Colorado Rockies in 2017. And in the six years before that, he played for the Kansas City Royals, helping the team to a 2015 World Series win and a 2014 AL Reliever of the Year honor.

Monday in a 3-3 tie with the Cincinnati Reds during his second appearance as a D-back, Holland got hit for a second home run this spring when Matt Kemp took him over the left-center wall for a solo shot on Holland’s third pitch of the day. He allowed a double as well before getting out of the inning without any more problems having thrown 13 pitches, eight for strikes.

“I feel good. My mechanics were cleaner than last time out, I was more consistent,” he said. “Still a work-in-progress this time of spring. The breaking stuff is spinning to where I want it to and the fastball … the misses are getting closer to where I want them to be.”

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said Holland settled in after mislocating a fastball on the home run to Kemp and isn’t worried about Holland’s first two outings.

Expected to compete with Bradley and Hirano for some role as a high-leverage reliever after Arizona let former closer Brad Boxberger walk this offseason, Holland gave up two hits, including a three-run homer, and a walk in his debut of 0.2 innings on Friday.

“I know he knows what he’s got to get to,” Lovullo said, adding he wasn’t worried about Holland’s fastball topping out at 89 mph. “There’s no panic in the runs he’s given up or the mistakes he’s making.”

Holland said he doesn’t view it as an internal competition for a role among Bradley, Hirano and himself. He believes Arizona has the talent to compete.

“For me, my competition is being as good as I can be at a personal level,” he said. “The way I look at it is if I am good as I can be and there’s other options, then we’re going to have a pretty damn good bullpen.”

WEAVER THROWS STRONG SECOND OUTING

Starting pitcher Luke Weaver’s first spring appearance came on a back diamond at Salt River Fields, but Monday, his second time on the mound, came with a strong 3.0 innings of work.

The right-hander acquired as a main piece of the Paul Goldschmidt trade with the St. Louis Cardinals used his full four-pitch repertoire, throwing 41 pitches.

He allowed two hits, including an earned run, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

“Overall, I was very excited about the breaking stuff,” Weaver said, adding it’s his goal to find consistency with his offspeed pitches including a cutter.

“Just get the spin right, get the consistency going,” the 25-year-old said. “I just needed to go out there and know when I throw a pitch that it’s going to be what it’s been — it’s not just something different and now I got to bag it for the day. Just really honing in and driving the consistency train and really try to get that right.”

BASE HITS

– A low-light of the day was first baseman Christian Walker miss-judging a throw by shortstop Jazz Chisholm that took a hard bounce off the dirt as he was stretching to make the out at first base, a play that registered as an error on Chisholm. But with Walker’s next at-bat, the first baseman hit a hung fastball by the Reds’ Keury Mella to the center field wall for a two-run double, continuing the first baseman’s strong spring.

– Rubby De La Rosa, the former starter who hasn’t played since the 2016 regular season due to two Tommy John surgeries, struck out the side to end the game Monday. He threw 11 pitches, including nine strikes, and had a fastball repeatedly registering at 98 mph.

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