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Snake Bytes, 2/20: Weaver looks to move forward

A bounceback year from Luke Weaver would go a long way to help Arizona’s 2021.

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Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Luke and see

[] Weaver on rocky 2020: 'Makes you stronger' - While Weaver will forever look at his 6.58 ERA from last year with disgust, he's also trying to turn it into a positive by using it as fuel. "Sometimes it can really beat a guy up," he said. "But I think you just learn from that. You take that, you drive it and use that as motivation. When someone can expose your weaknesses, it only makes you stronger. You hope to attack those. That’s what I’m doing right now. It’s as simple as that. It’s about going out there and showing there are no more weaknesses. Maybe tipping your cap and saying, 'Thank you, thank you for exposing them, because you’re not going to ever touch them again.'"

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks' Weaver believes slider is key to potential bounce back - It sounded like his real focus was on his breaking balls — his cutter/slider, in particular. By the end of last season, his cutter and curveball had become so unreliable that he basically scrapped them, going primarily to his fastball/change-up combo. He is hoping both become weapons for him again this year — but especially the slider. “It’s a monumental pitch,” Weaver said. “In 2019, I had that. I had that consistently. I felt confident throwing that for strikes. For me, it was just easier to pitch. It opens up the fastball/changeup. It gives you more breathing room, a little bit more options. I’m just trying to get back to that.”

[The Athletic] Diamondbacks' Luke Weaver enters a crucial year with a reworked hook - There remains optimism about him in the industry, and other teams would have been interested in trading for him as a buy-low candidate had the Diamondbacks made him available. But that just means Weaver is no more established than he was when Arizona acquired him as a similarly distressed asset before the 2019 season. He is only more expensive and has fewer years of team control remaining. A pitcher with two good pitches usually winds up a reliever, although that’s not a fate in which Weaver is in immediate danger of realizing. But a lot hinges on that new slider and, to a lesser extent, the curve. Those pitches were a vulnerability in Weaver’s game, and he’s grateful hitters revealed that for him. He’s confident he has adapted.

Other team news

[AZ Family] Bill helping Arizona Diamondbacks raise cash for stadium improvements passes committee - A bill moving through the state Legislature could help the Arizona Diamondbacks raise the cash needed to upgrade Chase Field and keep the team in downtown Phoenix. HB 2835, which passed unanimously out of the House Appropriations Committee this week, allows the baseball franchise to issue hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to improve the taxpayer-owned stadium. Chase Field The measure allows the baseball franchise to issue hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to improve the taxpayer-owned stadium. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) If approved, Diamondbacks officials said it will not cost taxpayers a dime, that the team will issue the bonds and impose additional fees onto their fans who attend games to pay off the debt.

[Arizona Sports] 2021 Diamondbacks spring training tickets go on sale Saturday - Arizona Diamondbacks spring training tickets for games at Salt River Fields will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Saturday. Tickets will be sold in pods of two, four and six people to help maximize social distancing between guests. Approximately 2,200 tickets, or less than 20% of capacity at Salt River Fields, will be available for each game. D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar that about 1,500 of the tickets will be for fixed seated areas, while 700 will go to pods grouped in the lawns.

[Fansided] MLB: Diamondbacks continue to institute ‘significant’ employee pay cuts - The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to institute pay cuts to baseball operations, player development and business side employees, according to sources familiar with the situation. The cuts are of varying degrees, though some are said to be “significant.” A team spokesperson confirmed that the pay cuts are still in place, citing that the team is still waiting to determine 2021 revenues and did not want to treat employees differently on the baseball and business sides of the organization. The Diamondbacks are believed to be one of the only teams in baseball still implementing pay cuts to employees. The team is waiting for ticket sales, among other things, before making any changes to expenses.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs P Merrill Kelly 'in a good spot' following 2020 shoulder surgery
- “I got to hand it to our staff. … They’ve taken great care of me,” Kelly said via Zoom. “This process has been much smoother and much more streamlined than I could have ever anticipated. The way I feel right now, the way I felt going into camp and just these first couple days, getting off the mound for the first time on ‘real bullpens’ in spring training, it feels good. I don’t anticipate anything popping up. My mentality right now is I’m just a normal player again. I’m just approaching spring training as usual and just trying to prepare for the season rather than thinking about what happened or how I feel. … I’m just looking forward to kinda getting going.”

[] The young ace who owns edges like Maddux - Entering 2021, with a 2.78 ERA over his first two big league seasons, Gallen is a dark horse National League Cy Young Award candidate. And it's not because he has overpowering stuff. It's because he has elite command. Take a look at his pitch heatmaps from last season. Every single pitch type is concentrated on one of the edges of the zone. That's why he ranks so highly in metrics like STATS' Command+, which has Gallen with top-five command among starting pitchers.

And, elsewhere...

[ESPN] Nine MLB players, four staffers test positive for COVID-19 during intake screening - Thirteen of 4,336 tests for COVID-19 were positive during intake for Major League Baseball's spring training, a rate of 0.3% The commissioner's office said Friday that nine positive samples involved players and four involved staff members. Positive tests included 11 of the 30 teams. After the intake screening, there were no new positives among 2,298 monitoring test samples. Samples thus far totaled 6,634. All players on 40-man rosters and players with minor league contracts invited to big league training camp are screened. Also tested are all other on-field personnel, such as managers, coaches and athletic trainers, strength and conditioning staff, and physicians.

[Washington Post] MLB teams concerned about starting pitching as spring training begins - This season, nearly every major league starter who participated in the 2020 pandemic-shortened campaign will be upping their innings by a much higher percentage — in many cases, by 100 percent or more. In a sport where teams’ fates are so often guided by the health of a starting rotation, the prospect of such a collective increase has increased concerns leaguewide about pitchers’ durability. “For pitchers, arm safety is going to be critical to build these guys up properly and get off and going,” San Diego Padres Manager Jayce Tingler said. “In 2021, certainly with the pandemic, the challenge of 162 games after playing 60, there’s going to be real value in depth.”

[] Trevor Bauer trolls Noah Syndergaard on Twitter and then pitchers exchange some spicy jabs - Trevor Bauer, arguably the most online pitcher in Major League Baseball, called out Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard for what the new Dodgers player determined to be distasteful comments towards fans. The call-out came through a Twitter post featuring screenshots of Syndergaard responding to negative comments on a recent Instagram post of his. Bauer worded his tweet as a defense of fans, claiming that Syndergaard was going after "what makes [pro baseball] games go."