[D’backs.com] D-backs win sixth straight, Walker struggles - Taijuan “Taco” Walker took the start yesterday against the Kansas City Royals at Salt River Fields. After quickly retiring the first three batters on fly balls to right fielder Steven Souza Jr. requiring only six pitches, he seemingly lost control and could not miss bats in the 2nd inning. He surrendered three runs in that frame, that being the Royals’ only runs, allowing three hits and two walks. Walker retired to the bullpen after that inning to throw an additional fourteen pitches in order to meet his target of sixty. Fortunately, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen and lineup fared much better than Walker. The offense managed to score ten unanswered runs enabling the Diamondbacks to win their sixth game in a row.
“I threw way too many pitches in that second inning,” Walker said. “If it was the regular season I’d go back out there, but it’s Spring Training. I’m still conditioning my arm, and that was just was too many pitches for me there. I felt better in the bullpen.”
[D’backs.com] Lovullo embracing competition for roster roles - Not entirely surprising to see Jake Barrett and Jared Miller begin the season in Reno. It is likely that we will see either one of them with the Major League club again this season. What remains to be determined is if any of the non roster invitees, Neftali Feliz, Kris Medlen, Fernando Salas, or Antonio Bastardo break camp with the club, so it makes sense to give them a longer look.
“We don’t want to make decisions on the final day,” Lovullo said, noting that he and general manager Mike Hazen worked out an approach in Lovullo’s first year managing in 2017. “We want to have things in place a couple days before that. But that’s our strategy that’s what we’d like to do. We know sometimes decisions need as much time as possible. We’ll try and make as many decisions as possible, so guys can start to define and understand their roles. But it’s going to be competitive. We might change that approach this year to give guys as much time as possible.”
[New York Post] One team just a step below MLB’s Magnificent Seven - The possibility of the Diamondbacks winning the National League West would be more surprising than last season’s wild card run. As it stands right now, they will likely be competing for one of the two National League wild card spots again this season. Starting pitching depth within the organization seems to be a current concern, and the final makeup of the bullpen remains unsolved for the moment. However, the additions of Steven Souza Jr. and Jarrod Dyson should result in at least a modest improvement in the outfield and minimize the loss of J.D. Martinez. Will the Diamondbacks finish closer to the 69 wins of 2016 or the 93 they finished with in 2017? That journey begins in three weeks.
[Roof and Panels Open] The Steps Taijuan Walker Took - Joshua Inman takes the analysis of Taijuan Walker’s secondary pitches, something we touched on for the entire rotation earlier, a few steps further. Tai had a bit of a problem with preventing the long ball in pitcher friendly Safeco Field. Last season he increased the amount of sliders he threw to right handers and the amount of curveballs he threw to left handers in order to cut down on those home runs, but it did not take away his ability as a power pitcher.
[AZ Central] New boy, new man: Chris Herrmann ready for baseball after wife’s challenging pregnancy - Sometimes I truly feel that we all pay too close attention, myself included, to the numbers and not enough to the person outside of the playing field. I know that I would have a difficult time staying focused at work if I was going through what Chris Herrmann did, and I do not have milliseconds to decide whether I am going to swing at a pitch or not. Chris received his fair share of criticism for his play last season, but perhaps it was unfair considering what he and his wife Shelby had to go through during the pregnancy of their first child.
Around the League
[Yahoo Sports] The verdict is in on Shohei Ohtani’s bat and it’s not good - It might be time to pump the brakes on the two way player talk for Shohei Ohtani. He performed poorly at the plate against Zack Godley earlier in the week, and has not swung the bat well so far in general. The Angels will have to decide shortly if they are going to have him start the season in the minors if he truly wants to be a two way player to refine his hitting, or use him strictly as a pitcher on their staff. Gives you a greater appreciation of what Micah Owings was able to accomplish for a brief period of time.
[MLB Daily Dish] Twins sign Lance Lynn to 1-year deal - Cross another free agent coming off the board in March. Lance Lynn has agreed to a one year contract with the Minnesota Twins as one of the latest victims of this unique offseason. The volume of one year contracts signed this offseason combined with the enormous pending free agency class next season could make for some potentially interesting bargain deals.
[CBS Sports] It’s possible former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta has actually become underrated - Jake Arrieta is one of the few remaining unsigned in the free agent market, with Lynn, Mike Moustakas, Carlos Gonzalez, and Jonathan Lucroy all agreeing to terms earlier this week. He does not appear to be particularly close to signing with any team, but an injury to any team’s pitcher in the final three weeks before the regular season could have him in camp quickly.
[Sports Illustrated] Flight of the Sole Man - Not your typical fall from grace story you sometimes hear about a former Major Leaguer. Byron McLaughlin was far more successful, financially speaking, in selling illegitimate merchandise than he ever was as a baseball player. His actions will prevent him from ever entering the United States again as a free man.