[D’backs.com] Inbox: Who will fill in for Walker? - Fans ask questions pertaining to Taijuan Walker’s potential replacement in the rotation, Shelby Miller’s role when he returns, and which prospect we could expect to have an impact at the end of this season.
[Arizona Sports] D-backs Farm Rumblings: Braden Shipley off to a great start in Reno - Braden Shipley is a likely candidate to make a “replacement” start this season, possibly as soon as later this week. Shipley has performed well for AAA Reno to start the minor league season with 14 strikeouts and 5 walks over 17 & 1⁄3 innings. Catcher Dalton Varsho was 7-for-15 with 2 home runs and 10 runs batted in this week, but draft mate Pavin Smith has still yet to homer in his minor league career and is sporting a more anemic 5-for-35 line. Socrates Brito became the first player in Reno Ace’s history to have 2 career inside the park home runs.
[AZ Central] Diamondbacks’ Taijuan Walker still optimistic despite landing on DL - No judgement from me if you are still cautious despite Taijuan Walker’s optimism. Considering what we just experienced around this time last season with Shelby Miller, the term “right forearm tightness” is a definite cause for concern. Walker’s demeanor is remarkably different than Miller’s was, so perhaps Walker truly will be fine after some rest. MRI results should follow later today to provide us with a more definitive answer.
“I think everyone has felt some tightness in their forearm,” Walker said. “The first thing everyone thinks is, ‘Oh, it’s Tommy John.’ But I feel like you kind of know if it’s real serious. I don’t think it’s that serious.”
[Full Count] Derrick Hall expresses Diamondback’s interest in acquiring Yusei Kikuchi - Forewarning, the linked article is written in Japanese. Jim posted a Google translated version in yesterday’s Bytes, but it will not be much help unless you speak the language yourself. Kikuchi pitches for the Seibu Lions of the Nippon Professional Baseball League and throws left handed. He will not be eligible to come to the MLB as a free agent until 2020 unless the Lions post him this offseason at the age of 27. With 138 starts so far over his career, he owns a 2.77 ERA and 793 strikeouts in 892.2 innings pitched. He has dealt with shoulder injuries in the past, but he will not be subject to the international bonus pool system as Shohei Ohtani was, so it will be interesting to see what teams are willing pay to acquire him. A substantial bidding war would likely prevent the Diamondbacks from making a serious run at him.
[The Athletic] Torey Lovullo’s dilemma: Protect his relievers or his starter? - Consecutive short duration starts from Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley presented Torey Lovullo with the difficult decision to protect Godley while struggling on Sunday at the expense of exhausting his bullpen. After an extremely efficient first inning which took Godley only 7 pitches to complete, he required 41 to complete the third frame. T.J. McFarland, the long man out of the bullpen, was unavailable having pitch four innings of relief the night prior, so Lovullo was forced to leave Godley in the game as long as reasonable without risking injury.
“Because we were thin, we were going to ask Zack to go up to that 100-pitch limit and be careful with the amount of pitches per inning,” Lovullo said. “We were trying to balance that out, and it’s very challenging at times.”
Around the League
[ESPN] Under Armour now scheduled to make MLB uniforms in 2020 - The plan for Under Armour to take over the manufacturing of MLB jerseys from Majestic has now been pushed back to 2020, as originally scheduled when the deal was made public. It was announced last season that the timetable had been moved up to 2019, but now it has been moved back to the original date for an undisclosed reason. When Nike took over as the manufacturer of NFL jerseys, some minute design changes had been made for certain teams, so this move could budget more time for similar changes to MLB uniforms.
[Cut4] Bryce Harper joined an exclusive club with his broken-bat homer - When thinking of other broken bat dingers after watching Bryce Harper’s own yesterday, Justin Upton’s during his time with the Diamondbacks immediately came to my mind. However, I was not originally aware how frequently it has actually happened throughout the years. Here are all the videos in one convenient place!
[The Oregonian] Retired Nike exec stakes claim to bring Major League Baseball to Portland - Cities around North America are preparing in the event that MLB votes on a league expansion, or should an existing team be relocated. Craig Cheek, a retired Nike vice president, has formed the Portland Diamond Project with the desire to bring another professional team to the Pacific Northwest. Portland previously approved a $150 million bonding bill to construct a stadium in 2003, so there are already some public funds already available for use.
[MLB.com] Drury awaits neurological results, takes BP - Old friend Brandon Drury hopes to soon have answers as to what has been the root cause of his migraines. It is truly remarkable that he was even able to hit a baseball with adequate contact because of the visual acuity required to do so. I am excited to see him strive towards his potential if he is able to have this issue corrected.
He said that his migraines intensify with physical activity, and when asked if he has stepped into the batter’s box without being able to see clearly, Drury replied, “All the time. I’ve played through it, but I’ve got to the point now where I don’t feel like that’s the player I am,” Drury said. “It’s early in the year and I want to get this figured out early so I can help this team win a lot of ballgames this year.”