ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Merrill Kelly struggles again in second outing of spring training

Mar 5, 2019, 8:52 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly is pulled from the game after allowing three ru...
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly is pulled from the game after allowing three runs during the first inning of the team's spring training baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

SURPRISE, Ariz. — It was déjà vu for Merrill Kelly in his second outing of the spring and for the Arizona Diamondbacks, that wasn’t a good thing.

Kelly again was shelled in a limited outing, allowing three runs in 1.2 innings on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals.

The second consecutive rough outing didn’t do anything to help Kelly’s case as he vies for the final starting rotation spot.

In his spring debut, the righty gave up three runs in 0.1 innings against the Cleveland Indians.

“A little frustrating,” Kelly said Tuesday of his outing. “I expected at least to come out a little better than I did the first game.”

Kelly struggled to keep his fastball low in the strike zone and also with his command, the same problems that plagued him against the Indians.

It’s a worrisome trend for the 30-year-old, who joined the D-backs in the offseason after a four-year professional career in South Korea’s Korean Baseball Organization.

The Royals’ No. 2 hitter, Whit Merrifield laced an opposite-field triple on a 90 mph fastball that stayed up in the zone in the first inning.

He then walked Alex Gordon before Jorge Soler tagged him for an RBI single.

Another walk followed by a fielder’s choice and error second baseman Wilmer Flores allowed two more runners to score before the first inning was over.

Kelly’s final line wasn’t pretty: three runs, three walks and just one strikeout in 1.2 innings.

“I think I just need to attack from pitch one,” Kelly said. “That’s something that I try to do but that’s something I’ve gotten away from the last couple of starts.”

In two starts, Kelly sports a 22.50 ERA in two total innings pitched.

No doubt the D-backs expect more from Kelly, but it might take more time than normal because of his unusual circumstances.

Kelly, who played his college baseball at Arizona State, hasn’t yet played in a MLB game.

He said he did see some positives from the outing, including life on his fastball and the emergence of his curveball.

“I just have to try and wash the negative parts of [the outing],” Kelly said. “It was just a couple bad breaks and just have to try and take the positives from it.”

Even with the slow start, Kelly remains as one of the candidates to fill the final starting role.

Nick Green, the Rule 5 pick who has impressed so far this spring and is in the mix for the same role, also struggled Tuesday against the Royals.

Green walked four batters and allowed two runs in 1.1 innings.

“It’s friendly competition but it’s competition,” Kelly said of the race for the final starter’s spot. “I respect that. So that’s why I think my first two outings have been frustrating because they’re not up to par to where I want them to be.

“I’m here to earn a spot like anyone else.”

BASE HITS

– Jake Lamb has struggled offensively this spring but had a nice at-bat in the first inning against Royals starter Jorge Lopez. Lamb stroked an RBI double and is now hitting .154 in the spring.

– Chris Owings, who left the D-backs for the Royals in the offseason, faced his former club for the first time. Owings recorded an RBI double against Green but was struck out by Archie Bradley.

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