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Caleb Smith, D-backs get 1st look at Fernando Tatis in loss to Padres

Starting pitcher Caleb Smith #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of the Cactus League spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 02, 2021 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Diamondbacks play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

Even if you happen to live under a rock, you’ve probably still heard by now.

Highlighted by the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers and the offensive juggernaut that is the San Diego Padres, the NL West is no cake walk.

Arizona got its first taste of what they are up against this season in a 7-2 loss to the latter on Tuesday.

Led by Fernando Tatis, the Padres had little trouble putting runs on the board in the first two frames.

In just two at-bats, the shortstop accounted for four RBIs off two hits thanks largely to a first-pitch, second-inning grand slam. He also scored a run and was walked once.

Tatis’ play would spell the end for Arizona starter Caleb Smith after two innings of work. He headed to the dugout after allowing six earned runs on four hits. He also registered two walks and a strikeout.

Despite the outing, Smith is taking the good with the bad in stride.

“You never want to do bad, but there’s positives to take away from this,” Smith said after the start. “I thought I threw the ball fairly well for not having that good of stuff today.

“I learned don’t throw Tatis a fastball. It happens. Just glad it’s spring training and we got it out early.”

The D-backs entered spring training looking to solidify their starting rotation, with Smith a candidate to slide in as the fifth member.

The pitcher, who was acquired last season from the Miami Marlins, started three games for the D-backs in 2020. In those three starts (0-0), Smith allowed three earned runs on five hits, while walking six batters. He struck out nine on his way to a 3.00 ERA as a D-back.

“I thought Caleb just made a couple mistakes with pitch selection and location,” D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo said after the game. “You do that to one of the better players in the National League with the bases loaded and you can see what the results are.

“But we’ve got remember, it’s early in spring. He’s still looking to find his location and make pitches. It’s really about execution, but I want those things to improve for sure.”

Coming in relief for Smith was Alex Young, who is also in the mix to earn a starting role come the regular season.

In two innings, Young allowed just one hit and recorded a strikeout.

“AY I thought threw the ball very well,” Lovullo said. “He was just off the plate, made some adjustments, got the ball on the plate and got some quick easy outs.”

The D-backs will look to secure their first spring training win Wednesday when they take on the Cleveland Indians.

BASE HITS

– Madison Bumgarner is in line to get the start Thursday for Arizona following a bullpen session Wednesday. Lovullo said the starter is “good to go.”

– Outfielder Kole Calhoun will likely be sidelined for 3-4 weeks following a procedure Wednesday to repair a torn meniscus, per Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.


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