D-backs’ Mike Leake ‘hoping’ to be ready for season

Mar 4, 2020, 3:46 PM | Updated: 10:38 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Mike Leake throws in the first inning of a baseball game agai...
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Mike Leake throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Starting pitcher Mike Leake’s status for the beginning of the 2020 Arizona Diamondbacks season is still uncertain, but he told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta Wednesday that he’s hopeful he won’t have to miss a start.

Leake fractured his left wrist in an accident at home, according to the D-backs. That’s his non-throwing wrist, so he has still gotten in bullpen sessions.

“It’s about halfway there, I’ll say. Maybe a little bit more. I’m hoping to be ready for that first game,” Leake said. “I think I’ll be able to make one or two starts, and that will hopefully prove to them.”

He is scheduled for a live pitching session Thursday with a net protecting him, manager Torey Lovullo said Sunday.

If Leake is unable to play in a major league game by March 30, which is the fifth game of the season, the D-backs have enough pitching depth to replace him.

“We do have a handful, possibly, of guys in Triple-A that we can use. So it’s not a big issue, but it is,” Leake said. “The good thing is that we have talent that can come in and do the job right away.”

Logic dictates that Merrill Kelly would be the next man up. Though Kelly went through a rough stretch in which he had an 8.91 ERA in 33.1 innings over seven starts from July 23 through Aug. 29 last season, his ERA dropped to 2.18 over his final five games. He led the staff in wins with 13.

He also said that coming into this year, he’s more confident than last.

“There was just a lot of external pressures and a lot of external factors that I allowed to kind of creep into my mind, but this year it’s a lot clearer up there, it’s lot calmer,” he said on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta.

A rookie who had spent the previous four seasons in Korea, Kelly was looked at with intrigue by the team, fans and media alike.

He had to adjust to that attention — there will be less this year — but he also had to adjust to his own abilities.

“I think that’s where kind of the analytics game into play last year; that there were certain pitches that the organization thought were better pitches than I thought they were in my own head, and that’s because I hadn’t attacked hitters that way before,” Kelly said.

“So I think it took me a little time to trust that what I had was good, and what I had in certain situations and big-time counts and big parts of the game, that I could go to certain pitches with confidence and it would end in a good result.”

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