Catcher Carson Kelly getting good feel for D-backs’ Madison Bumgarner

Jul 10, 2020, 11:29 AM

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly smiles as he picks up his gear bag during team practice a...

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly smiles as he picks up his gear bag during team practice at Chase Field Friday, July 3, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It’s only been a few game-like situations since coronavirus shut down spring training in March, but Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly believes the choppy training camps haven’t gotten in the way of his developing relationship with starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner.

“It’s been great. Every time we go out there, catch him, play catch, whatever it may be, I just feel like we strike up a conversation about, ‘Hey, will this help me?’ He’s always trying to learn,” Kelly told reporters on Zoom call Thursday. “He takes that mound and he’s a fierce competitor and has a plan, but he’s always trying to learn.”

The question is how the D-backs catchers and Bumgarner will build chemistry and support one another with such an abbreviated set of instrasquad scrimmages to prepare for the 2020 season that starts for Arizona on July 24.

Bumgarner is already familiar with offseason addition Stephen Vogt, who played last year with the lefty on the San Francisco Giants.

“I think we’re pretty good,” Kelly added of his relationship with the ace. “I’ve caught him almost every start now that he’s had. Stephen has had that relationship with him in San Francisco. Mine and (Bumgarner’s) locker, we’re six feet away (for social distancing) but we’re close to each other in a sense.

“In passing just to talk to each other, I think that relationship’s going to continue to grow as we keep going here.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said he will begin having conversations with his pitchers this week about which catcher or catchers they prefer. He added that Bumgarner, who pitched a clean three frames Thursday at Chase Field, has not expressed any desire to be limited to one catcher, but stressed they have yet to sit down to line up partners.

As for Bumgarner’s pitching off the mound against live batters in a simulated game, Lovullo liked his stuff.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the progress he made from his last start,” Lovullo told reporters. “It was easy to predict. Last start at times looked a little flimsy, but it was his first time on the mound. You can just see how these pitchers with the type of experience and type of stuff that he has improve. They feel things. It just takes a little bit of time.”

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