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Snake Bytes, 4/6: Friday off-day? Shurely shome mishtake?

Weird, isn’t it? But after a successful start to the road-trip, no-one will begrudge the D-backs a spot of R&R. Here’s a bumper collection of reading to tide you over.

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[Arizona Sports] Robbie Ray limits damage, D-backs move to 6-1 after beating Cardinals - While some of the same problems persisted from his first start, Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray had a much better day on Thursday against the St. Louis Cardinals. Ray went six innings, striking out nine, walking five and giving up one earned run over 98 pitches in the D-backs’ 3-1 win over the Cardinals. Needless to say, it was an improvement for Ray after his seven runs (six earned) allowed against the Colorado Rockies in start number one of 2018.

[AZ Central] Ray bounces back, shuts down Cardinals - He said he was battling his mechanics throughout the night, specifically his posture. He said he hunched over too often in his delivery, causing an ugly chain reaction. That makes him tumble down the left side of the mound, which makes him have to overcorrect, which makes him fire his fastball up and out of the zone to his arm side. He also thought his mentality might have contributed to the lack of control. “(I was) trying to make a pitch too nasty or trying to throw a 100-mph fastball in the second game of the year,” he said. “That’s not my game. I do a lot better when I can command in the zone with my fastball at 95 percent. I was just trying to do too much.”

[] Ray steals spotlight, deals D-backs past Cards - One of the biggest keys for Ray last year was when he scrapped his changeup and instead added a curve to go with his fastball and slider. When he struggled in his first start against the Rockies, he threw just three curves. On Thursday, he threw 31. “My slider was really good my last game,” Ray said. “I was kind of leaning on that a little more and not really going to the curveball. It’s one of those things where I’ve got to understand that if I throw [the curveball], it’s going to get the results I wanted.”

[AP] Ray, D-backs spoil Cardinals' opener with 2-hitter - He was making his first appearance at Busch Stadium since being knocked out of a game by a line drive off his head on July 28, 2017. “I kind of just put it behind me,” Ray said. “It’s something that happened and it’s over. It was just another game.” “You hold this team to two hits on (their) opening night, that’s pretty special,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “He made big pitches when he had to. I don’t think he has a back-down mentality. He stood on his stuff.”

@FoxSportsAZ: “I just need to realize I don’t need to do too much. My stuff is good. Trust it.” -- Robbie Ray, who worked around 5 walks to pick up his second win of the season.

Team news

[] D-backs to rest Goldy ... but not that much - “He’s a hard personality, a hard leader, a hard bat, a hard defender to take out of the lineup,” Lovullo said. “But a rested Paul Goldschmidt and a healthy Paul Goldschmidt is the most meaningful Paul Goldschmidt in the direction we are trying to go. Every player is very reluctant to come out of the lineup and not perform every single day. That’s part of their DNA.” Lovullo points to early rest for his regulars as one of the reasons the D-backs’ were able to put together a 13-game winning streak from Aug. 24-Sept. 6 and pull away from Colorado in the race for the first NL Wild Card spot last year.

[AZ Central] Souza close to returning - Mike Hazen said Souza’s recovery from a strained right pectoral muscle has progressed rapidly enough that he could be back from the disabled list sometime around the end of the current road trip or the beginning of the upcoming homestand. “So we need to see BP (batting practice) for a couple more days and it should be game progression after that,” Hazen said. “So a couple more days of BP at least and again making sure he hits all his markers, and then we’ll be talking about games behind that.” Hazen doesn’t expect Souza to require a lengthy rehab assignment given that he hasn’t missed much time and has been able to remain active during his absence.

[] Bean-Lovullo bond inspires as game’s culture evolves - “I’m gay,” Billy Bean says in the midst of a more complete sentence. But it’s those two words that cause those who didn’t know his story to suddenly sit more upright and listen more intently. All these years, all this societal progress, all this personal redemption and progression, and the 53-year-old Bean is still making waves with those words. Yet on this day, in this moment in the Arizona Diamondbacks clubhouse, he can say them with the confidence that he is admired, supported and encouraged by the leader of this group.

Minor-league news

[Sports360AZ] D-backs' prospects to watch on MiLB Opening Day - It’s Opening Day across Minor League Baseball. Diamondbacks’ prospects that were assigned to Triple-A through Single-A will begin their seasons today, while short season and rookie league teams won’t begin until June. Here are the top D-backs’ prospects to keep an eye on with each of the Diamondbacks’ affiliates.

[Naperville Sun] Budding Rose: Joey Rose knows it's 'going to be a grind' with Kane County Cougars - New Cougars third baseman Joey Rose hails from Toms River, N.J., where baseball is a way of life. Rose appeared in the 2010 Little League World Series, carrying on a strong tradition in the city. Back in 1998, New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier led Toms River to the Little League World Series title. Now, the Rose and Frazier train together. "I live probably 40 seconds from Todd," Rose said. "We work out in the offseason. I've learned a lot from him. I've been hitting with him since I was like 16."

[Kane County Chronicle] Cougars: Matt Peacock making the most of his second chance - Kane County Cougars relief pitcher Matt Peacock walked away from baseball two years ago. So yes, he's ready to get started this spring. It's been a long road to tonight's Midwest League season opener for Peacock, a roughly 912-mile drive from home. Peacock traded in his leather glove for working at his family's saw mill installation company and other areas. He went to school, but after the summer into his senior year, the itch to return to baseball – a sport since he had played since he was a toddler – came roaring back. "I was like, 'Man, working is not fun. I want to give baseball another shot,'" Peacock said.

And, elsewhere...

[ESPN] The MLB's C-Flap helmet is saving faces on All Star at a time - As much as any player or team, the C-Flap appears poised for a breakout season in 2018. It's not just that more players are wearing it -- it's when and why they're wearing it. Trout, Harper and Cabrera are part of a new wave of players who are wearing the C-Flap even though they haven't been beaned. They're wearing it to prevent an injury. That shift in thinking is having a significant impact on the look of the game. As recently as two or three years ago, you could count the number of big leaguers who'd ever worn the C-Flap on two hands. Now barely a game goes by without at least one player wearing it.

[Washington Post] It’s only April and it’s clear the MLB strikeouts record will again be threatened - Baseball’s home run surge over the past few seasons has been a hot topic, but there is another upward trend worth watching: batters are striking out more frequently than ever. In 2017, hitters were retired on strikes 21.6 percent of the time, a major league record for a full season. This year that has ticked up slightly to 22.3 percent, which, if sustained, would be the 11th straight season the strikeout rate has increased. And with the strikeout boom resulting from a combination of improved pitching, aggressive hitters and help from the umpires, it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.

[The Incline] Phil Coyne, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 99-year-old usher, walks off after 81 seasons - Forget McCutchen. Forget Cole. Coyne may be the biggest loss of the offseason. He’s a walking historical archive in a sport that values its history arguably more than any other. In eight decades with the team, he’s seen everything — championship runs, stadium changes, legendary games and legends of the game and no less than 14 presidential administrations. Coyne, a retired machinist who never married, took his only hiatus as a Pirates usher to fight in Italy during World War II. When he returned home from battle, he went back to work and back to the stands.