Diamondbacks Spring Training Round-Up: Kennedy Named Opening Day Starter

We trust the Diamondbacks have finished licking their wounds from yesterday. Here's some post-game quotes, word on the early Arizona rotation, and if you've got $15m to spend, have we got a house for you...

Post-game quotes

  • "I felt physically ready, but obviously a little bit out of control, missing location. I was leaving the ball a little bit up."
    -- Randall Delgado
  • "That ball was killed. I think that ball hit a car in the parking lot in left as far as that one was. It literally might be one of the furthest balls I've seen hit. I didn't see it land, so I don't even have an estimated distance on this one."
    -- Billy Butler, on Adam Moore's home-run for the Royals

  • "You're going to make errors at this point. You don't want to make them. We brought a real young crew over here, all of our pitchers are real young. We talk about the things that happen and we try to correct them."
    --
    Kirk Gibson

Kennedy named Opening Day starter

I'm sure this one was keeping you up nights. But Kirk Gibson has finally put all our minds at ease, by announcing that Ian Kennedy will be the Opening Day starter for the Diamondbacks when the season starts against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1st. It'll be his third Opening Day start for us, putting him behind Randy Johnson (six) and Brandon Webb (four) in franchise history. [Trivia question: outside that trio, can you name the other three pitchers to start games on Opening Day for Arizona? Answer at the end of the article]. It's earlier than the previous occasions. Last year, Kennedy was named on Feb. 29, and in 2011, it wasn't until March 15 than he got the nod.

Said manager Kirk Gibson: "If everything goes right, Ian's going to start Opening Day,. He's been great for us. I don't know why we'd change that... He's certainly done nothing to lose that position. That's how I look at it." Kennedy is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in his two Opening Day starts - that's better than Webb, who in his four outing, was also 1-0, but with a surprisingly-high 5.73 ERA. Last year, Kennedy gave us a quality start, and pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs, getting the win as the Diamondbacks held on to beat the Giants 5-4. In 2011, he also allowed three runs, working six frames and getting a no-decision as we beat the Rockies, 7-6.

The rest of the rotation behind him will be Trevor Cahill, then Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy, with the fifth starter to be decided. It may seem a little odd putting Miley ahead of McCarthy, but that would make particular sense if one of the left-handers wins the battle for the fifth spot, e.g. Patrick Corbin, as it would split up the southpaws. Jack Magruder notes that there are multiple early off-days for the team, on the 4th, 11th and 15th of April, so that could reduce the need for a fifth starter, or possibly allow the team to carry an extra bullpen arm or position player early on. However, Gibson has shown a strong tendency not to skip starters.

Arizona outfield: Bloomquist and Parra

It was notable that Willie Bloomquist started yesterday afternoon's game in the outfield, a location where he made exactly zero stars for the team last year (though he did so 22 times for Arizona in 2011). It's hard to say whether that's due to the World Baseball Classic, where manager Joe Torre has said Bloomquist could play in the outfield for Team USA. Said Gibson, "He's been there before and he might get some time out there in the WBC so I wanted to get him out there. And the other thing is we're just kind of short on outfielders right now." The latter is a reference to A.J. Pollock's abdomen strain and Keon Broxton's broken-hand, which have thinned the D-backs herd a bit.

The first hit of the afternoon in Surprise went over Bloomquist's head to the warning track, and he acknowledged it was his fault. "First ball was a little bit tough, I got kind of right there in the sun but it's part of spring training. You don't like to get them the first one out of the shoot, it kind of puts you on your heels but it is what it is, you adjust and make the next play." Better now than during the games which matter: "It's much easier to do it now and get the jitters out than it is mid-season. It's just something I need to be able to do and need to be able to move around if that's what they need me to do on this team or the WBC."

Meanwhile, Gerardo Parra made his second error of this young spring, but Jack Magruder reports Kirk Gibson as saying that was partially due to Parra breaking in a new glove. "He has such a great arm that he gets anxious," Gibson added. That's kinda weird, as last spring, there was a story about Parra's little red glove, in which it says, "Kirk Gibson has raved about Parra's little red glove for much of spring training. He calls Parra's defense "off the charts" and notes "he's always in the right spot, which isn't by accident."" Hasn't quite as much been the case so far: small sample size obviously applies, however.

Around baseball

  • Justin Upton got his first hit as a Brave on Monday - and it was a monster. Described as one of the longest home runs ever seen at Atlanta's spring training complex, it cleared the grass berm in left field, traveling a distance estimated (albeit by his team-mates) as at least 450 feet. .
  • The Giants and White Sox played to a wild 9-9 tie, each side getting 12 hits. San Francisco took a nine-run lead into the sixth inning - former D-back Cole Gillespie had two doubles and drove in two - but Chicago game back, powered by a seven-run eighth to knot things up.
  • Former D-backs CEO Jeff Moorad is selling his house, and wants $15 million for his 16,100-square-foot mansion in Paradise Valley. It will be the third attempt to sell it, having previously been listed in both November 2011 and last fall. "It boasts eight bedrooms and 11 bathrooms, a count that includes the detached guest house that, at about 2,000 square feet, is bigger than many single-family homes. There is also an office, three fireplaces, a maid’s quarters and an exercise and sauna room."
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