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Snake Bytes 3/2: Merrill Kelly Returns

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In his first start since undergoing thoracic outlet surgery, Merrill Kelly struck out five in two innings and allowed a two run home run.

Colorado Rockies vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks News

[D’backs.com] New hitting drills; Kelly’s spring debut - When Merrill Kelly got up Monday morning, the D-backs right-hander said he felt like a little kid again as he anticipated his first outing of the spring. In a two-inning start during Arizona’s 7-1 loss to Milwaukee, Kelly allowed two runs on one hit (a home run) and a walk while striking out five. It wasn’t just Kelly’s first outing of the spring, but it was also his first game action since undergoing thoracic outlet surgery last September. “It kind of felt like my first Spring Training game back in 2019, just with the butterflies,” Kelly said. “With everything that’s been going on and everything that happened last year, it was a lot of fun.”

[Arizona Sports] D-backs’ Merrill Kelly sharp in return from season-ending surgery - Manager Torey Lovullo was encouraged by seeing Kelly hit 93 MPH with his fastball. “Obviously, we’re going to compare to what he was like prior to the procedure, and when you see him respond the way he did today, it means he did a lot of work when nobody was around and put himself in this position,” he said. “So it was very nice for all of us to see.” Kelly pitched two innings, allowing two earned runs on one hit with five strikeouts and one walk. “All things considered and everything he’s been walking through over the past several months, I couldn’t be more pleased with what he gave us,” Lovullo said. “I think overall it was just a great day for him, for us, to see him back on the mound performing at a high level and executing pitches.”

[AZ Central] Arizona Diamondbacks rev up batting practice in search of more offense - Coming off a disappointing season at the plate, the Diamondbacks’ offense is looking for ways to improve. One approach the club is taking is to change the speed at which it practices. “What it’s allowing our guys to do is see things quicker, faster, more game-type situations,” Diamondbacks hitting coach Darnell Coles said. “That way, they can make their adjustments in batting practice and carry it over to the game.” The Diamondbacks last season ranked in the bottom half of the league in most major offensive categories. They had the third-worst on-base and the second-fewest home runs. They tied for the fewest pitches seen per plate appearance. Most crippling were the long stretches in which the offense seemingly vanished, notably during a 2-18 stretch in the middle of the year that wrecked their season.

[The Athletic] Diamondbacks’ Tim Locastro wants to be more than your favorite gadget player - If you’ve heard of [Tim] Locastro, you’ve either watched a lot of Diamondbacks games or you’re among the slice of the baseball internet that geeks out over his very particular set of skills. According to Statcast, Locastro is the fastest player in the majors. He has yet to be caught stealing as a big-leaguer, going 26 for 26 to start his career. He also has an uncanny knack for getting hit by pitches. Put it all together and you’ve got a player who can get on base and potentially come around to score without a ball ever being put in play. That might make him your favorite gadget player, but Locastro wants to be something more than that. He hasn’t been so far — he has a .730 OPS for his career, which consists of just 347 plate appearances — but the experienced players around him see it coming. They see a raw, hyper-athletic player just now starting to figure out his swing and approach. They see a man with the build to put more of a charge into the ball and the wheels to turn doubles into triples. They hope Locastro will play a big role this season.

Around the League

[MLB.com] Orioles name Katie Krause director of public relations - The Orioles today announced that Katie Krause has joined the organization as Director, Public Relations. Krause will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Orioles’ Public Relations department and generate creative opportunities to publicize the club’s efforts on the field and in the community. She will begin her duties today, reporting directly to Jennifer Grondahl, Senior Vice President, Community Development and Communications. The 2021 season will mark Krause’s 10th in professional baseball. Most recently, she served as the Senior Manager of Corporate Communications with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where she secured millions of dollars in earned media through pitched stories with a focus on off-the-field features. She was responsible for publicizing all events and promotions including giveaways, community appearances, corporate partnerships, group sales, culinary experience, and more.

[ESPN] MLB bringing back in-game video for players in 2021 - It was a jarring change for some hitters during a down year for offense during the pandemic-shortened season. But Major League Baseball has cleared the way for the return of in-game video on dugout iPads beginning on opening day, with catcher signals clipped when they are displayed on a computer... For decades, baseball players retreated to a clubhouse video room to check out their at-bats or take a closer look at a reliever entering a game. Then Houston was penalized in January 2020 for an electronic sign-stealing scheme during the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series title and again in the 2018 season. The coronavirus pandemic also led baseball to limit clubhouse access. The prohibition of in-game video access coincided with a .245 MLB batting average during the shortest regular season since 1878, the lowest since .237 in 1968 and down from .252 in 2019. The average number of home runs per game declined from the record set in 2019, and the difference between strikeouts and hits increased despite the short season.

[NY Post] It took one game for MLB umpire Angel Hernandez to go viral again - Everyone in baseball is trying to get into shape this time of year — even those verbally attacking Angel Hernandez. Cardinals announcers went after the frequently shaky umpire in Sunday’s spring training opener, getting on him for a pitch call that was actually accurate. “And the 1-1 … Ángel Hernández is in midseason form,” Cardinals play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin cracked on the ball call.