D-backs pitchers still chasing Robbie Ray; Yasmany Tomas sprays hits in return

Mar 18, 2016, 6:42 PM
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Godley (52) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers durin...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Godley (52) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – For the second day in a row, an Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher fighting for the final starting rotation spot available didn’t do himself favors.

After Archie Bradley allowed six earned runs in 2.1 innings Thursday, Zack Godley allowed seven runs in 3.1 innings pitched, including two home runs and two walks on Friday.

“Struggled with command, struggled to get the ball down,” manager Chip Hale said after the D-backs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-8 at Salt River Fields. “He’s got to get the ball down. He’s got to be able to use all his pitches. Just like Archie yesterday, he can’t be predictable.”

Godley added that he’s working on producing ground-ball outs and keeping the ball low in the zone.

“That didn’t happen but just gonna work on it the next couple days,” he said.

It being just more than two weeks away from opening day, the time available to shore things up is running out.

While the D-backs made a comeback against the Dodgers, lefty Robbie Ray, the favorite to win the last starting spot, pitched 5.2 innings against the Rockies’ Triple-A squad Friday, allowing five hits and no runs with no walks and four strikeouts.

It should be of note that Ray’s absence from the sellout against Los Angeles has meaning. Whomever wins the fifth starter’s position lines up to face the Dodgers in Arizona’s third series of the regular season.

Bradley and Godley failed to take advantage of the last two days. On Saturday, 25-year-old right-hander Tyler Wagner will get the same opportunity against the Seattle Mariners, while ace Zack Greinke will start against the Rangers as the D-backs split their team.

TOMAS RETURNS WITH AUTHORITY

The Diamondbacks trailed the Dodgers 4-0 heading into the second inning before outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who took time off because of knee pain, helped ignite a comeback with his first three hits of the spring.

“I thought when he was hurt, he was favoring his knee and his swing wasn’t the same as we worked on,” Hale said. “We wanted to see that swing he had today. It was impressive.”

Slimmed down with an offseason of workouts in the past, the production from the D-backs’ second-highest paid player will be key in his second season.

It was Friday.

After a Jake Lamb walk, Tomas lined a single to left field with no outs in the bottom of the second inning. Catcher Welington Castillo’s sac-fly and an RBI single by outfielder Evan Marzilli were followed by a Chris Owings single that loaded the bases. Then, Nick Ahmed’s two-out single up the middle cut Los Angeles’ lead to 4-3 after two innings.

The next frame, Lamb’s second walk of the day and Tomas’ second single were followed by a two-RBI double by Castillo, and with two on, Marzilli’s one-out single gave Arizona a 7-5 lead.

Tomas’ two-out double in the fourth, his third hit of the day, was followed by another double by Zach Borenstein to plate Tomas and put Arizona ahead 8-7.

“Good at-bats. Jumped on a couple first pitches and it looked like the guy had him fooled and he battled for a great at-bat and had another single,” Hale said of Tomas.

Through a translator, Tomas said he felt comfortable and was without pain. He doesn’t expect to have any problems moving forward.

Tomas, now playing in left field after moving from right following the trade of Ender Inciarte, will be relied upon more in his second season. After he, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta, Hale and the D-backs continue to evaluate a group of capable outfielders to round out the roster.

Rickie Weeks Jr. would provide a veteran presence. Minor leaguers Socrates Brito and Marzilli (3-of-4 with 3 RBI on Friday) have the capability to play center field and have both hit above .360 so far this spring. But converted catcher Peter O’Brien also remains in the mix – he made a diving grab in left field Friday – and has the advantage of his bat, although not in experience.

“That’s the thing about Pete, he hasn’t played much in the outfield. That lack of experience is tough for him. He is overcoming it,” Hale said, before adding, “You swing the bat, we’ll find a position for you.”

Those words don’t sound hollow.

Arizona has given O’Brien all the opportunity this spring to prove himself at the plate. He leads the D-backs with 40 at-bats this spring and has hit .275 with an on-base percentage of .310 and a slugging percentage of .525. O’Brien leads Arizona with three homers and is second to Castillo with 11 RBI.

NOTED

– First baseman Paul Goldschmidt hit his first bomb of the season, taking it opposite field for a two-run shot that gave the D-backs a 10-7 lead in the fifth inning.

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