PHOENIX — Perhaps this is for the best. Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed starter Archie Bradley has not been the same player, that top pitching prospect, since taking a line drive to the face on April 28.
He’s struggled since, though to his credit he has refused to use the incident as an excuse for his recent performances. He also rejected the suggestion again as he met with reporters to discuss being placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday for the second time this year, this time with shoulder tendinitis.
“I think it was just bad pitching — just not throwing the ball very well, not throwing it where I went to,” he said, sitting in the D-backs dugout prior to their series opener against the New York Mets.
Bradley first experienced soreness in the shoulder, he said, after his start in St. Louis on May 26. At the time, he thought nothing of it, chalking it up to fatigue. But when the soreness continued following his Monday outing against Atlanta, in which he allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings, he brought it up to the team’s trainers the next day, he said.
“Just not feeling right,” he said. “It’s not when I throw. I just feel like the recovery is taking a little longer — just a different feeling than I’ve had before. It wasn’t painful; it was just like something’s not right, like it felt off. I had to labor a little more than I normally do, and for me, no one wants to pitch like that.”
Structurally, the shoulder is fine, according to Bradley. He went through a range of tests, including an MRI, and all the results returned negative.
That’s the good news.
“We just felt like at this point after the tough outings, getting hit in the face, and then some soreness in his shoulder, we wanted to DL him and give him a break,” manager Chip Hale said. “I told him this (Thursday) that we need to get him back to who he was before the injury to the face.”
Before being hit by a Carlos Gonzalez line drive in the second inning against the Rockies, Bradley was pitching lights out, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA (four ER in 20 innings pitched) in four starts.
In the four starts since he returned from the disabled list after to a right sinus fracture, his numbers have been awful. Bradley has allowed 19 earned runs in 15.2 innings (a 10.91 ERA), losing three of the games with a no decision in the other. Twice he failed to complete four innings, and at no time did he finish six, something he had done in each of his first three outings to begin the season.
“Is it getting hit the face? He has not pitched well since then,” Hale said. “(A) mistake maybe by us was not sending him on a rehab (assignment) then. When he came back from that, he has not had the same stuff; he has not had the same location. But, this is just part of the game. He’s a young kid. We need to stay positive with him, but he needs to understand that he can’t continue to pitch the way he was pitching and pitch here.”
The plan, according to Bradley, is take two or three days off from throwing and then play catch early next week. A rehab stint this time around will be necessary.
“It’s frustrating because I want to be out there pitching. I want to work through (the struggles). I want to be a part of this team and help them win,” he said. “But, I don’t feel 100 percent, and I’m not going to go out there if I’m not 100 percent. And they don’t want me out there if I’m not 100 percent, either.”