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Diamondbacks Game Preview #34: 5/14 vs. Cubs

Jeff Bannister talks Daulton Varsho and Catching

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Starting Pitchers: Zac Gallen, 2-0, 0.95 ERA vs Kyle Hendriks 2-3, 4.38 ERA

Lineups:

As good as the entire Diamondbacks rotation has been so far, Zac Gallen is emerging as the ace of the staff. He threw 7 shutout innings last time out against the Rockies and has allowed just 3 runs in 28.1 IP while allowing just 16 hits and more importantly walking just 4.

Kyle Hendriks has had 3 rough starts in this young season that inflated his ERA, but don’t kid yourself, he’s still an excellent pitcher who is tough to square up and seldom walks anyone. He narrowly missed a shutout in his last start in San Diego, going 8 23 , giving up just 3 hits and 1 walk in a 6-0 Cubs victory.

Nick Ahmed is back in the lineup today. He was not in the starting lineup yesterday against a left hand starter, leading some people to speculate he may have reinjured his shoulder. But he pinch hit last night and is back in there today.

Even though he is the emphasis of this preview, Daulton Varsho gets a day off from behind the plate but is in the lineup as the DH. That works.

Prior to the game today bench coach Jeff Bannister handled pre game media duties and gave a long wide ranging interview including the changes to the ball, overcoming early season slumps, Zac Gallen’s excellence and Jose Herrera.. You can listen to all 27 minutes here

Jeff Banister Audio

I found the most interesting part of the interview to be detailing how they helped Varsho improve behind the plate, which in essence boiled down to not coaching the athleticism out of him.

[Note: Bannister is responsible for the catching coaches and overseeing the catching program]

“[Varsho] is Tremendous athlete, you see what he does in centerfield. I was fortunate to be around two really good catchers in Jason Kendall and Russell Martin who both were very similar type athletes. Very athletic guys who also played other positions in their career. So I believe that aides in that development as a catcher and the ability to be a premium catcher. The problem is alot of times when we take catchers and we train them we try to make athletes like this traditional. what you would imagine a catcher to be.

And so we take a different philosophy. Like with Martin he was an infielder shortstop and we had to remind him that’s who he was, so we brought that skillset forward. Kendall was very similar. So with Varsho the idea was lets allow that athleticism to play behind the plate. So positionally how you set up, how you receive , how you react , have that centerfielder type mentality, how you see the ball , how you react to the ball.... you’re just squatting down, you’re on a knee.

I think that has opened up a different world for him, a different perspective, to be that athletic. You watch him he doesn’t look as traditional as what you would see. We’re trying to enhance that for him. Now there have been a lot of behind the scenes work , early work that you guys don’t see. “