D-backs RHP Merrill Kelly efficient in 2023 spring debut vs. Mariners

Mar 3, 2023, 3:42 PM
Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch during the first inning against the Mi...
Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch during the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field on October 05, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kayla Wolf/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kayla Wolf/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly had an efficient first start in his spring training debut against the Seattle Mariners on Friday at Salt River Fields.

The righty finished his day throwing 2.1 innings, allowing two hits, two walks and one run.

Kelly was scheduled to go three innings or 45 pitches, but was pulled after just 1.1 innings and 34 pitches.

Due to spring training rules, though, Kelly was allowed to re-enter the game in the third inning and ended up shutting down the 2-3-4 batters in the Mariners lineup consecutively in just an additional 11 pitches.

Despite allowing a run in the second, the righty was attacking the zone, throwing for 27 strikes total over 11 batters faced.

The first start of the spring for Kelly is the next step in preparing for the 2023 World Baseball Classic with Team USA from March 7-21.

Manager Torey Lovullo said Friday that the WBC is Kelly’s main focus.

“We have one thing to do right now and that is get him ready for the WBC,” Lovullo told reporters.

“I know that’s his priority as well as all the players headed to the WBC. After that, they will step back into our arena and be ready for the regular season.”

Although Kelly and others will not be with the D-backs for two weeks during spring training, Lovullo said the team will send its players workouts they want to see completed while with their respective teams.

Closer issues
Closer Mark Melancon made his first spring start of the year as well on Friday and was roughed up by the Mariners.

In one inning the righty allowed six hits and three runs including a home run.

Melancon entered in the fourth inning and gave up an infield single followed by a two-run homer down the right field line.

He recorded a strikeout following the home run before the next two batters both hit singles. Melancon recorded his second out when the first base runner tried to stretch a double.

The next four batters he faced all reached base safely before getting a groundout to finish the inning.

Melancon finished 2022 with a 3-10 record, 4.66 ERA and 18 saves over 62 games. With a closer undecided for 2023, Melancon, Carlos Vargas, Miguel Castro, Scott McGough, Andrew Chafin, All-Star Joe Mantiply and Kyle Nelson could all compete for the role or see time over the course of the year.

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