Diamondbacks starter Luke Weaver took the mound against an Angels lineup full of backups and minor leaguers this afternoon at Salt River Fields. Justin Upton and Anthony Rendon played in the back fields B game this morning, an there was no Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani in today’s lineup.
The somewhat easier assignment did not help Weaver navigate his first spring outing. He gave up a run on a walk and two singles in the first inning, and had to leave with just one out in the 2nd with a run in and runners on 1st and 3rd, due to hitting his pitch limit (45).
5 of the 7 balls in play had exit velocity of 100MPH or greater. He walked 3 batters and also threw a wild pitch.
The game got even sloppier after Weaver left when Marcos Tineo came in to relieve. A throwing error by Carson Kelly on a steal attempt allowed a runner to come home. Then Tineo threw a wild pitch scoring another, then gave up an RBI double to Jack Mayfield. Tineo also hit a batter, but induced a 6-4-3 double play to mercifully end the the inning with the Angels up 4-0 at that point.
After his outing Weaver talked about a mechanics adjustment he was trying out, related to his landing foot and balance, but he got caught in between the adjustment and his normal mechanics. He only started to try to make the adjustment 2 days ago.
I asked him if knowing he’s a veteran with a spot on the club allows him to feel more comfortable with experimenting in Spring training as opposed to feeling the pressure to make the ballclub:
“it is a little different. I think there’s a sense of peace and confidence in knowing all the work you put in years before, you get to a point where you’re not comfortable, but you know that you can out there and make these adjustments to be better as a pitcher and getting that game speed feedback. Today I understand I’m going to go back out and pitch like I know how to pitch and fully excpect to make that better next time, and as we get closer I just gotta be more of who I am and attack my strengths and leave experiments behind.”
Follow Up Question:
Speaking of who you are, you come off very laid back, easy going, good sense of humor, but I kinda get the sense watching you pitch sometimes you do a little better when your hair is on fire and you get a little red ass about you?
“Yeah there’s no doubt, that’s instilled by my father, he’d get me worked up a lot back in the day as a kid. I’d always perform better . The focus gets more narrow. The intensity kinda gets to a place where you carry a lot of edge. It’s a battle sometimes because it’s not really a mood that I necessarily want to be in all the time. But like the great Kobe and Jordan, they had these inner mental battles where they make up stories , or you know the guy may be a really great guy across the field but you kinda hate his guts in that moment, right, like thats a mentality. There is an edge in knowing that I pitch better like that, but to get in that moment is the tough part. I don’t want to give up a homer in the first and then go psycho out there and be like “nobody’s gonna hit me”......I want to get out there just spitting blood before they even get in the box and carry that and try to sustain it. Through 2 hours of pitching and 6 innings, sustaining that intensity is very hard to do. Which is why a lot of cool calm collected pitchers can sustain unless your like a Max Scherzer, who’s got a different gene.”
[JACK EDITORIAL] This feeds my already strongly held bias that Weaver should be turned into a closer. Not only do I think his stuff will play up in such a role, but the way he answered this question is exactly how I envision him going balls to the wall in short spurts. The team didn’t choose this route, but they should have.
Rest of the Game:
The D-backs got a run back in the 2nd thanks to base hits by Christian Walker and Carson Kelly, followed by an RBI groundout from Josh VanMeter. Walker later had a leadoff double in the 4th, but was stranded there.
Daulton Varsho pulled the D-backs closer with a homer to right in the 5th, making it 4-2.
Caleb Smith looked good today, working three scoreless innings (3rd thru 5th) and struck out 6 batters while walking just one and allowing one base hit.
Matt Peacock gave up a homer to Taylor Ward, increasing the Angels lead to 5-2, but Seth Beer rocked a two run homer in the 8th and Ryan Bliss doubled in a run to tie it up at 5-5.
Beer is hitting .600 this spring, (6 for 10) with a homer, two doubles and 5 RBI
Carson Kelly had a tough day behind the plate, allowing 3 stolen bases and making a throwing error.
B game and Torey Lovullo notes:
- Ian Kennedy looked sharp in his one inning of work, locating his fastball and getting outs on contact. Here is a video of Justin Upton facing IPK
- Upton later homered against Edwin Uceta, a high fly that just kept going and barely cleared the left field fence.
- Matt Davidson homered for the Diamondbacks, a deep blast to left center.
- J.B. Wendelken looked good in his outing today as well, stuff was sharp and he got a couple of K’s.
- Ryan Bliss, a 2nd round pick in the 2021 draft, made a really nice diving play on a ball up the middle, (he was playing 2nd base). He’s a small guy, (5’9”, 165 lbs.) very fast and athletic. He takes a big hack, and has shown power both in college and last year at Visalia. He later doubled to deep left center field gap to drive in a run in the main afternoon game. He’s a guy you notice on the field. I’m betting he’s a fast mover through the system.
- Angels Starter, left hander Reid Detmers was impressive. He has a great curveball, and caught both Josh Rojas and Pavin Smith looking with it. He REALLY locked up Pavin. Detmers had a rough call up last year, but that yacker is for real.
- Zac Gallen threw one inning sim game on another back field. He didn’t look especially sharp, and was not locating well, even hitting a batter. The most important thing will be to hear if he had any discomfort afterwards, which we may not get to know.
- Torey Lovullo and Joe Maddon sat together chatting for the first 3 innings of the B game. Sharing comments on players, and just feeding off of each other. It was an interesting dynamic to watch. You can listen to Torey’s thoughts on the exchange and how the pitchers in the B game did here