Cactus League record: 13-10-1. Change on 2016: -5.5.
Remember Peter O’Brien? Prodigious power, appalling plate discipline, couldn’t field any position? We ended up trading him to the Royals for a minor-league player in January. Well, guess who is leading all hitters in home-runs this spring? Yep: Peter O’Brien, who hit his seventh of the pre-season off Robbie Ray in the second inning this afternoon. We’ll see whether it lasts - he had five last spring - and he’s still also striking out at a scary rate, with 17 in 45 at-bats. But at least he gets to DH for the Royals, so it’s probably a better universe for everyone.
Otherwise, however, it was another good outing for Ray, who went five innings and allowed two runs on four hits, with a walk and six strikeouts. Nick Piecoro said of the outing, “Lots of strikes. Lively fastball,” and notes Ray’s improved command as we’ve gone deeper into spring. I also note Ray’s efficiency. Those five innings took 78 pitches, and average of 15.6 per frame, which would be a distinct improvement over his 18.2 average in 2016, which was one of the problems preventing him from going deeper into games. If he can get that figure down to average (16.6 last year), it’ll be another step toward him becoming the ace commensurate with his elite K-rate.
Here’s manager Torey Lovullo discussing Ray’s outing (via @FoxSportsAZ):
The rest of the bullpen seems to have had a good day too, though I am not inclined to belief what the MLB.com box-score is telling me:
Yeah. I’m pretty sure Fernando Rodney didn’t go four innings this afternoon. Not least because elsewhere in the box-score, it says J.J. Hoover got the save. But I’m not inclined to sit around and wait for MLB to get their act together. After a couple hours, MLB has finally fixed the box score for this game, as Andrew Chafin also pitched for the Dbacks in the 9th inning. Rodney and Chafin had 1-2-3 innings, with Rodney striking out two hitters, while Hoover pitched the two innings between them.
Arizona got on the board in the second, with Chris Herrmann’s second home-run of spring. But it was a three-run fifth which proved decisive. Gregor Blanco got a spring RBI triple, after the Royals’ outfielder lost the ball in the sun. David Peralta reached on an error, allowing Blanco to score, and Jake Lamb doubled - off a left-handed pitcher, no less - to bring Peralta home.
Tomorrow’s an off-day for the Diamondbacks. So we can all concentrate on watching the once again Goldschmidt-less Team USA go up against Japan in the semi-final of the World Baseball Classic. If they lose, I’ll have no sympathy for them.