D-backs’ Zac Gallen looks sharp in spring debut, aims to not miss 1st start

Mar 30, 2022, 6:55 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks' Zac Gallen. (Twitter Photo/@Dbacks)...
Arizona Diamondbacks' Zac Gallen. (Twitter Photo/@Dbacks)
(Twitter Photo/@Dbacks)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen looked sharp in his 2022 spring training debut on Wednesday.

In a 9-2 win over the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields, the right-hander only allowed one baserunner of the nine batters that he faced, including retiring the last six hitters in order.

Gallen threw 2.2 innings and struck out two Rockies, the first of which was right fielder Charlie Blackmon to lead off the bottom of the first before a Ryan McMahon single.

“It was coming out pretty good,” he said after his outing. “Delivery felt pretty good. Everything was kind of there for strikes. Just the one backfoot slider to [McMahon] was probably the only pitch I’d like to execute again. But other than that, I felt good with how it went out there.”

The 26-year-old right-hander was pulled by Torey Lovullo after 36 pitches (22 strikes) in which Gallen went through the Rockies’ lineup once.

The D-backs manager had the starter on a strict 45-pitch limit after being diagnosed with bursitis (inflammation of fluid-based sacs in a joint) in his right throwing shoulder during the MLB’s 99-day lockout. Gallen finished up his last nine pitches in the bullpen after he was pulled to get up to 45 on the day.

“It (felt) good (to be back out there), especially dealing with this thing,” Gallen said. “Thankfully it hasn’t been too serious but it’s good to just kind of go out there. You see everybody else having fun. So you’re kinda like I’m tired of the backfield games, let’s get back out there and see another uniform.”

Gallen’s velocity on his fastball topped out around 94-95 mph on Wednesday, as he has been working with assistant pitching coach Barry Enright on closing the front side of his delivery.

And while the right-hander won’t be the Opening Day starter for the Diamondbacks on April 7 against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field, Gallen is hoping to not miss a start the first time through the rotation and is aiming to make his 2022 regular-season debut at home against the Houston Astros on either April 12 or 13.

“You don’t want to start on the IL. I can speak from experience from that last year,” he said. “So I don’t like doing that. It’s not fun seeing your friends play and you’re sitting here.

“So I tried to do everything I could to get ready, trying to stay on top of this thing, but also try not to push it too much and go too crazy and overextend myself. It’s a long season. … I would love to not miss a start but ultimately I don’t make the decision. It comes down to them, but I’ll definitely press pretty hard not to miss a start.”

A total of six D-backs pitchers closed out the remaining 6.1 innings of the ballgame: Kyle Nelson (0.1), Mark Melancon (0.2), Keynan Middleton (0.1), Ian Kennedy (1.0), Caleb Smith (3.0) and J.B. Wendelken (1.0). Melancon was the only Diamondbacks pitcher on the day to give up a run and more than one hit.

Offensively, the D-backs gave the fans on the right field lawn almost a home run derby-like atmosphere with four big flies that all landed on the grassy hill.

David Peralta had the biggest no-doubter with a game-tying solo shot in the seventh — his fourth of spring training. Gerardo Perdomo’s solo blast to lead off the ninth turned out to be the game-winning run. Jake McCarthy and Matt Davidson also added a pair of homers in the ninth — the D-backs’ third of the inning — that brought in five more runs to break the game open.

“From a pitching standpoint — very pleased,” Lovullo said postgame. “From an offensive standpoint — we squared up the baseball, David had the big home run that tied the game and then we had the seven runs in that ninth inning with some good at-bats.

“Guys were waiting for pitches. The Cooper Hummel at-bat sticks out to me more than any other — he drew a big walk. Good approaches. You hit three home runs in an inning, you’re bound to win a baseball game.”

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