ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Christian Walker stays hot in D-backs’ 3rd tie of spring training

Mar 20, 2021, 7:07 PM | Updated: Mar 21, 2021, 9:39 am
Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker (53) celebrates his two-run home run against the Cleveland I...
Arizona Diamondbacks' Christian Walker (53) celebrates his two-run home run against the Cleveland Indians with players and coaches during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

For the second time in three days, the Arizona Diamondbacks tied a spring training game.

Saturday’s 6-6 draw with the Kansas City Royals at Salt River Fields marks the third tie of the spring for the D-backs.

Luke Weaver got the start for the Diamondbacks, throwing for 4.1 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits (two home runs) while striking out five. He threw 74 pitches to 20 batters on the day, 49 of which were strikes.

“I thought it went really well honestly. … It was definitely the first outing this year that everything came together — fastball and changeup,” Weaver said via Zoom. “That was the best I’ve thrown my changeup in a while. Minimum slider, curveballs — I couldn’t land the curveball today but it had good action and some sliders I had some good action as well. Just feeling it up, no walks, just controlling what I can control.”

“I think more than anything I want to bring a better balance to my repertoire and be able to kind of come with four (pitches), being able to land those curveballs and get ahead in those counts,” he added.

Weaver is enjoying having fans back in the stands — albeit at a limited capacity — even if some happen to be heckling him.

The right-hander joked that there’s no telling what he’ll hear from the crowd when the concession stands are open.

“Hearing some fans’ banter, sometimes it’s at me. I can hear some of those comments and they aren’t nice,” Weaver said. “But most of the time we got some really positive stuff.

“Some fans telling me good job on the way out and I looked up and I’m like, ‘Well there’s four runs up there, but I appreciate you.’ It’s been great, it’s been a huge difference. We’re not quite all the way there to where it was, but it’s a great path we’re on.”

Offensively, the D-backs once again were led by first baseman Christian Walker.

The 29-year-old was 2-for-4 on the day with four RBIs, two of which came on a double in the bottom of the third inning. He would then add the other two on a single in the bottom of the fifth.

Diamondbacks catcher Stephen Vogt also had an RBI which came via the long ball in the fourth.

“Step-by-step we’re getting closer and closer. You can see in different areas where each guy is starting to bring things together, whether it be an at-bat, whether it be on the mound,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said via Zoom postgame. “I think defensively we’ve had a couple miscues,  certain things that we need to sure up. But those are all identifiable things that I feel typically happen in spring training.

“I feel like we’re on the right track and right path and getting closer each day. We’re swinging the bats well; making good, hard outs; looking for the pitch we’re hitting. I’ve been very satisfied. I think we have a little more time here, we have a few things we have to tighten up but we’ll get that done.”

LOOKING AHEAD

With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, Weaver compared this year’s D-backs squad to a lower seed that’s looking to knock off a big-name favorite.

“If you want to classify us as the No. 12 seed or a double-digit seed, we’re hungry and we’re ready to take [that team] down,” he said.

“I think that’s kind of how we’re approaching it. There’s no extra pressure on us. We’re just going out there having fun and playing a game. I think when you can do that consistently, you’re going to have some good results and I think that’s all we’re striving for.”

Lovullo on what he’s looking for from the Diamondbacks in the last 10 days of spring training.

“I think landing all pitches in all areas for all of our pitchers and I think those are things that have gotten tightened up as we’ve gotten further and further in spring training,” he said. “Tightening up command and location and finishing, having the ability to finish off hitters with quality second stuff.

“And then being able to position a defense behind that. Getting a chance to watch each guy defensively behind certain pitchers and certain matchups I think takes a little bit of time. … The last several games we’ll get the majority of our guys on the field at one time and let it play out.”

EXTRA BASES

Lovullo didn’t have an update on Tyler Clippard’s right shoulder discomfort. The manager added that the team is still gathering information.

UP NEXT

The D-backs host the Chicago White Sox at Salt River Fields.

First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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