Activity was, as you’d expect, light at Salt River Fields today. For when they say, “pitchers and catchers report,” that’s exactly what they mean - players just show up, rather than energetically participating in preseason practice. There’ll be plenty of time for that beginning tomorrow... But manager Torey Lovullo was there as well, taking questions from the media, and a few interesting nuggets cropped up over the course of his first open session with the press in 2017. Here are some highlights from the briefing.
Yasmany Tomas in left, David Peralta in right
That’s the plan announced for 2017. In his debut season, Peralta saw double-digit starts at all three positions, with half the total in right. However, the following year, he almost exclusively became a left-fielder, making 109 of his 115 starts there. But in 2016, although he started fewer than one-quarter of Arizona’s games for a variety of reasons, almost all were in right. Overall, 58% of Peralta’s career starts have come in left, so it’ll be interesting to see if this plays into plans for Chris Owings to get outfield starts against lefties: can he handle right-field? Meanwhile, 134 of Tomas’s 190 starts, or 71%, have come in right, so it’ll be a change of scenery for him too.
Fernando Rodney delayed with visa issues
Seems a while since we’ve had one of these. They used to be a regular entrant on the Spring Training Bingo card; for some reason, it seemed to be relief pitchers that always were involved, most famously Tony Pena’s annual late arrival. So at least Rodney is keeping that tradition going. Of course, in Pena’s case, there turned out to be good reason for immigration authorities to be suspicious. The odd thing is, it doesn’t appear to have been an issue for Rodney before, so one does wonder what changed this year. Maybe that bullpen spot in the Iranian Winter Baseball League wasn’t a good idea... Anyway, he’s expected to be here later this week.
Taijuan Walker being started slowly
Walker had a arthroscopic procedure after the end of the regular schedule in October, to remove a loose bone fragment from his right ankle. This may have contributed to a bout of tendinitis in the arch of his foot, which affected his mechanics during the season. He said before having the surgery, “I don't want to have the same issue next year. It really affected me a lot, so I'd rather get it taken care of.” No reason it should be a (literal!) impediment to him, and there’s no indication of any setback - but no point in rushing, especially with an extra week in spring training this season, due to the World Baseball Classic.
Zack Greinke also being eased into things
The same goes for our ace, although Lovullo was at pains to stress Greinke is completely healthy and ready to go. He won’t be throwing a bullpen session tomorrow, like the rest of the pitchers, and there’s currently no date scheduled for that. Zack had generally been the picture of health over his time in the majors, but last season saw Greinke throw his lowest number of innings since 2007. So it makes perfect sense for him to be treated a bit gingerly here. It’s a long season and as noted above, a long spring; we’d rather not see that $1 million per start cost increase any further...