[D’backs.com] Kelly lands final spot in D-backs’ rotation - The D-backs’ starting rotation was finalized Saturday when right-hander Merrill Kelly got the news that he had won the No. 5 spot. That means that Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver will face the Padres in the season-opening four-game series, while Kelly will get the first game of Arizona’s series with the Rangers in Arlington. Kelly’s main competition for the role, lefty Alex Young, was told that he would make the team as a reliever. “He’d been throwing the ball really, really well,” manager Torey Lovullo said of Kelly. “My conversation with [Young] was that we’re going to transition him to the bullpen and give him an opportunity to grow and learn what it’s going to take to help this club win games using him that way. He was a great teammate and very receptive to that. It just made the most sense as we were discussing all of our options.”
[Arizona Sports] D-backs name Archie Bradley closer for 2020 season - Archie Bradley will be the closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2020 campaign. Manager Torey Lovullo made the announcement on a Zoom call with media on Saturday shortly after the right-hander’s tweet alluding that he may have been named the team’s closer. “It means the obvious: It’s a wonderful Archie moment where he was super excited with the news,” Lovullo said. “I was aware that he sent that out a very short time after my conversation with him. “It means he’s going to get the baseball at the back end of our close games. He had a small sample size of it last year, he’s been growing and learning as a pitcher each and every year, each and every outing, and I think that he’s ready to get the baseball at the back end of our games.”
[AZ Central] Diamondbacks make roles official in rotation, bullpen - Lovullo also said outfielder Jon Jay will make the team as an extra outfielder and that pitchers James Sherfy and Matt Grace and outfielder Trayce Thompson have been reassigned to the Salt River Fields camp, meaning they will not be breaking on the 30-man roster for Opening Day. The Diamondbacks still have a number of roster decisions yet to be announced at the end of the bench and in the bullpen.
Around the League
[USA Today] ‘You just have to accept it’: MLB’s new normal emerges as pandemic baseball takes shape - On this night, you could hear the thwack when [Bryce Harper’s] home run ball struck an advertising tarp, covering seats unoccupied by fans, and his jog around the bases was accompanied not by jeers but virtually no sound at all. The maniacally competitive [Max] Scherzer? Nonplussed, he accepted the replacement baseballs from home plate umpire Larry Vanover and got in his work almost stoically. And then you remember: This was merely an exhibition game, no different than fake baseball played in Clearwater or West Palm Beach, even though this was a 97-degree night in a big league park in mid-July. No, this was a dress rehearsal for our pandemic pastime, a 60-game Major League Baseball season slated to start here Thursday night, when the defending champion Nationals play host to the New York Yankees, with nary a fan in the stands.
[Yahoo Sports] Freddie Freeman says he prayed for his life after COVID-19 fever hit 104.5 degrees - As the coronavirus continues to spread at record pace in some parts of America, some have argued younger people shouldn’t fear COVID-19 because it doesn’t pose as large a threat to them if they contract it. Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman provided an emotional rebuttal to that argument on Saturday as he detailed his experience with the illness that caused him to report to summer camp late. Freeman told reporters that the experience was miserable enough that he started praying the illness wouldn’t take him: “I said a little prayer that night because I’ve never been that hot before ... I said ‘please don’t take me.’ It got a little worrisome that night.” Freddie Freeman on his worst night with COVID-19, when fever hit 104.5 degrees. “Friday night, that was the scariest night for me. I spiked to a 104.5 fever. Thankfully, [Braves trainer George Poulis] wasn’t awake when I texted him, because I probably would have gone to the hospital. Two minutes after that, I gunned my forehead again, I was 103.8, then I was 103.2 and 103.6, so I was like ‘Alright, if I go above 104 again, I’ll probably just start ringing the phone, try to figure this out.’
[CBS] Toronto Blue Jays prohibited from playing games in Canada for 2020 MLB season due to coronavirus - The Toronto Blue Jays have been barred from playing games in Canada for the 2020 MLB season over fear of spreading the coronavirus. The season, which was delayed due to the pandemic, is scheduled to begin at the end of July. “Based on the best-available public health advice, we have concluded the cross-border travel required for MLB regular season play would not adequately protect Canadians’ health and safety,” Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship said Saturday in a statement. “As a result, Canada will not be issuing a National Interest Exemption for the MLB’s regular season at this time.”