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Alex Young to start 1st D-backs spring training game of 2020

Alex Young #49 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 16, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Diamondbacks second-year starting pitcher Alex Young will be the first to pitch for the team in 2020.

Manager Torey Lovullo said Wednesday that Young would be the starter for Saturday’s game, the D-backs’ first of the 2020 spring training schedule, against Colorado. The D-backs are the road team in that game, even though it’s in their home ballpark of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, which they share with the Rockies.

Young was a rookie in 2019, beginning the year with Triple-A Reno before going on to finish the season with the major-league club.

In 17 appearances for the D-backs last year (15 starts), Young had a 3.56 ERA with a 1.188 WHIP in 83.1 innings. He averaged 2.9 walks and 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. In July, he had a no-hitter going through six innings against the Rockies but was removed from the game due to a limited pitch count. The D-backs did not complete the attempt at a team no-hitter.

“He basically flew into that starting situation in the minor leagues and just became somebody that I was looking forward to throwing every fifth day,” Lovullo said. “And if you consider where he was at the start of the year and where he finished with seven wins at the back end of the year, for us at the major league level, it’s a pretty amazing accomplishment.”

As it stood Thursday, the D-backs had many candidates who would appear qualified to take starting pitching jobs in 2020, including Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, Mike Leake, Merrill Kelly and others. Lovullo said he would consider having Young throw out of the bullpen.

“I know that he’s very versatile and he wants to start, and he’s going to get an opportunity to show us,” Lovullo said. “He pounded the strike zone, he was fearless, he had a three-pitch mix that he felt very comfortable throwing at any time. So those are some great ingredients for the success of a young starting pitcher.

“We’ve told him he’s going to come in here and compete for a starting position but at a certain point, as any of the guys that we’ve told that to, we want to make sure that we’re bringing the right guys over to Chase [Field] to help us win, and win often.”

Lovullo didn’t immediately have available who else would pitch on Saturday, though he did offer that one thing might change from years past: Lovullo said he normally puts all of the regular starting position players in for the first game, but may not do that on Saturday so that some regulars can play on Sunday.

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