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How 60-game season changes dynamic for D-backs pitchers, catchers

From left, umpire Chris Conroy confers with Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly and starting pitcher Robbie Ray before the start of the bottom of the third inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Urgency is the theme of the condensed 60-game 2020 regular season of Major League Baseball.

That’s what the Arizona Diamondbacks keep pushing as a mentality to have, but when it comes to actual alterations for players, it’s going to be something similar.

Veteran D-backs catcher Stephen Vogt has a specific job to do in his relationship catching for pitchers. There are little adjustments they can make before and after each outing to improve. The dynamic there. at least for Vogt, has now changed even during summer camp.

“Really just trying to emphasize to the guys I’m catching and when I get a chance to talk to our pitchers that, ‘Hey, there’s no time to ease into this,'” Vogt said Wednesday. “Everybody’s been working, everybody looks great but there’s not a whole lot of time to kind of feel our way into it. We gotta be ready to go right now.”

Vogt said it’s about visualizing the current pitching being done as if it’s already mid-May of a typically scheduled season.

“During a normal spring training, you might think, ‘Hey, let’s work on this during a bullpen … maybe next outing let’s throw more of these,'” he said. “No. It’s more, ‘Let’s get more outs next time we go out.'”

From a pitcher’s perspective, Merrill Kelly won’t change much about how he gets ready.

“I’m gonna prepare the same way I have,” he said Wednesday. “Do my work on whatever team that we’re going to face, try to prepare and try to get nailed down on those guys until I have another jersey to think about.”

Kelly said that his effort will also be the same in terms of just trying to get as deep into a game as possible, but he did note seeing how there could possibly be more emphatic outings from pitchers.

“If anything, with the shortened season and guys being fresh, I think it might allow people to kind of get after it maybe a little bit more than they would,” he said. “Because you know you only have a certain amount of starts and you know there’s fresh guys down in that bullpen.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo put it best on how that catcher-pitcher tweaks could be different now, and could surely also apply to him and his coaches working with all the players less delicately.

“We can’t dance around subjects right now,” he said Wednesday. “You might have to square somebody up a little sooner than normal.

“If we’re gonna learn something from the condensed version of the schedule, we’re gonna have to do it now. We’re not going to be able to wait five minutes.”


D-backs Interviews and Segments