Diamondbacks’ Tommy Henry puts best foot forward with roster decisions coming up

Mar 20, 2024, 6:17 PM

Tommy Henry...

Tommy Henry pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks at spring training against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

SCOTTSDALE — Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed starter Tommy Henry saved his best Cactus League start for his last on Wednesday as competition for Opening Day roster spots come down to this weekend.

Henry retired the final eight Colorado Rockies hitters he faced in 3.1 scoreless innings at Salt River Fields before heading to the bullpen for 30 more pitches to continue to build up (74 pitches total). He did not allow a hit and got ahead 0-1 to seven straight hitters, producing three strikeouts and mostly weak contact.

The southpaw was happy with his pitch sequencing to keep hitters guessing, something he felt made the difference after a couple tough results in spring training games.

“I just felt like through my first few outings, I wasn’t getting a ton of off-balance swings, I feel like people were on time very often,” Henry said. “And that’s kind of a frustrating, exhausting way to pitch. We felt like that was the biggest area to adjust. I’m hoping moving forward that continues to be the case.”

Henry appreciated the positive reinforcement on Wednesday, but maintained the mindset from outings that had not gone so smoothly. Process over results is a theme for many in spring, and Henry has been working on hammering out his lower-body mechanics to get in a better position to fire.

“I’m trying to stick to the foundational stuff we’ve been working on with the mechanics and the hips,” Henry said. “I think continuing to build that foundation and getting stronger in that has helped. I’m happy with the fact that it has been pretty consistent.”

Henry is coming off a 2023 campaign in which he made 17 appearances with a 4.15 ERA before an elbow injury ended his season. He has been engaged in the No. 5 starter competition all spring and is a finalist with right-handers Ryne Nelson and Bryce Jarvis.

However, veteran southpaw starter Eduardo Rodriguez exited Tuesday’s game with left lat tightness, creating a potential question mark in the middle of the rotation a week out from Opening Day. Manager Torey Lovullo said Rodriguez was still being evaluated on Wednesday. There remained discomfort although not as extreme as Tuesday night, the manager said while keeping the prognosis vague.

“If (Rodriguez) can’t, I mean, the obvious (alternatives) are that we have really two spots people are fighting for,” Lovullo said. “So that’s something I’ve been thinking about. But we haven’t jumped into that position, it is just me personally thinking about it. We’d have two spots available, so we’d have to fill two, but I don’t think we’re there yet.”

The rotation going into the final weekend of spring training involves Brandon Pfaadt pitching on the back fields Thursday, Nelson getting the ball Friday, Zac Gallen taking one of the split-squad games on Saturday and Merrill Kelly getting his final tune up Sunday.

D-backs assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday he always says the roster on March 28 is never the same as April 28, pointing out the need for contributions from those who may not win their camp battles, including fifth starter.

“I think they’ve all come out and competed and they’ve been working on different things with their repertoire, whether it’s new pitches, command or toying with different execution,” Sawdaye said. “That’s the most important thing is that we’ve seen growth from all our young pitchers in different areas. … I would be willing to bet that almost every one of these kids we’ve seen in spring training is going to impact our team at some point this year.”

Henry was not a major leaguer at the start of last season but was needed to fill out a banged up rotation.

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