Diamondbacks Spring Training: McCarthy Takes The Mound

Great day at #Dbacks camp here at @SaltRiverFields as @BMcCarthy32 faces live hitters for the first time - @BertDbacks, via Twitter

Brandon McCarthy saw live hitters yesterday. It went better than the last time that happened. Here are the details on that, more on our new outfield acquisition, and the other news from Salt River Fields yesterday.

Brandon McCarthy pitches to hitters

It has been 5½ months since McCarthy faced a major-league batter. Normally, that wouldn't be remarkable. But in between, there was a fractured skull courtesy of Eric Aybar, a brain hemorrhage and two hours of emergency surgery to relieve pressure. So it's no exaggeration to call this a significant step, even though, like most of his colleagues, he threw from behind a protective screen. He reported afterward, "There's that thought of, 'Is something going to happen? The first time they swing, are you going to duck for cover and run for center?'" But it really wasn't there. I threw the first pitch, he didn't swing and it was, 'Oh, this is easy, let's go back and do this again.'"

Jack Magruder says that McCarthy is looking to add a change-up back to his repertoire [spring training cliche #37: pitchers trying out a new pitch]. :"McCarthy threw an unorthodox change back then, gripping the ball with his little finger, ring finger and thumb. His new change is the more typical circle change." It's very much a work in progress: "The changeup needs to come along. There are some trust issues there. I’ve been away for it for so long it feels brand-new. It’s finding a comfortable grip. Finding a trust with it where you can see hitters reactions and you know you can just throw it over the plate." However, this morning, McCarthy had other concerns:

Tony Campana: Speed Thrills

New Diamondback Campana appears to be the brain trepanning tool of baseball: only good for one thing, but what it does, it does very well. Dave Cameron wrote about exactly how good Campana is on the base-paths: since 2011, "Campana rates #2 in Major League Baseball in runs added through base stealing, behind only Coco Crisp, a player with 750 more plate appearances... Put simply, Tony Campana is probably the very best base stealing weapon in Major League Baseball right now. He runs even when everyone knows he’s running, and he’s been ridiculously successful even without the element of surprise."

The obvious question is, how do the D-backs get him on the roster so they can utilize that insane speed? Even before his arrival, there seemed at least one bench player too many (and that's discounting the Rod Barajas vs. Wil Nieves contest). If Campana is to become a fifth outfielder, behind Gerardo Parra, that would seem to suggest one of John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist have to be moved, as well as what now seems almost inevitable, the release of Eric Hinske. But, as Cameron says, "There are ways to produce value in the big leagues without being a good hitter. Tony Campana is probably one of the best people alive at producing that non-hitting value."

Ross Takes The Reins

Looks like Cody Ross has been delivering the veteran presence which was a part of the reason for his signing. Jack Magruder writes, "Ross and Adam Eaton went through outfield drills on the second day of full-squad workouts last week, and Eaton could not help but notice the pace. Ross seemed to be working about game speed, and Eaton asked him about it. "Gotta get better," Ross answered simply." It's the Ross way: he told KTAR, "I'll lead by example. Obviously I'm not the biggest guy in the world and I'm not the most talented but I play the game hard and I play it the right way.. You know they'll see that and hopefully they'll follow."

Turn Ahead The Clock?

Jeff Summers writes about a long forgotten D-backs promotion from the September of their sophomore season, back in 1999. "Lucky fans in attendance were given a chrome looking baseball cap called a "space lid". The graphics on the scoreboard were given a futuristic look and the small boards where pitch counts and pitch speed would show previous MVP winners that were in the future suggesting minor league players like Jack Cust would have great success at the major league level." Here's a page with a look at the jerseys worn by the D-backs for the promotion. Ah, the future isn't what it used to be...

Notes

  • Short practice today for the Diamondbacks, as Kirk Gibson is giving them a bit of a break after a couple of days of full-length workouts. The team is going off to play paintball instead: curious to hear how that turns out!
  • Fox Sports Arizona at 7pm tonight will be debuting their weekly Cactus League program, covering the return to the hill of Brandon McCarthy and other news from the opening days.
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