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Arizona Diamondbacks: Competition Heats up for Spots on Pitching Staff

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May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) sets to throw the ball during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Hank Conger (24) sets to throw the ball during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
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Several in competition for jobs in Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff.

To secure a few openings on the pitching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks, let the competition begin.

For the first week of training camp, this was a “wait and see” period for manager Torey Lovullo and his staff. During the opening days, Lovullo wanted to put a face to a name and began the communication process.

After the Diamondbacks defeated Grand Canyon University 9-1 Wednesday afternoon at Salt River to open their spring slate, “it’s a different evaluation starting today,” Lovullo said.

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Pitchers used by Lovullo against Grand Canyon represented those pressed with an immediate need to impress. Left-hander Anthony Banda started and went one inning and was vanilla. In his situation, that’s probably good because there was no embarrassment.

Banda allowed one walk among the four hitters he faced and induced three, ground ball outs.

Not that the left-hander projects brighter than others on Lovullo’s radar screen for a spot in the rotation, Banda is quick to recognize that the season ahead is a marathon and a team traverses through a season with 40 or more players.

"“Worked on my command and felt great,” Banda told Venom Strikes after his one inning of work. “I threw the change off the fastball and the ball went where I wanted. It was an honor to pitch (in the opener), and in fact, it’s an honor to period, period at this level.”"

While Lovullo said Banda’s secondary pitches could have been better, Banda did not nothing to fall from favor.

“I thought (Banda) was aggressive with his fast ball,” Lovullo told Venom Strikes. “I liked the angle of his fast ball and that’s something we wanted to see.”

One reliever on the radar screen is left-hander Yuhel Nakaushiro, who recorded a 0.00 ERA in 13 appearances at Triple-A Reno last season. With Steve Hathaway nursing a strained left shoulder and yet to throw this spring, a left-handed middle reliever could be a premium. Lefty Jared Miller, who was promoted four times through the Diamondbacks farm system last season, is another potential reliever on Lovullo’s radar screen.

Before Wednesday’s game, Nakaushiro threw off the mount to hitters on a back-practice field and Lovullo, right behind the batting cage, was a keen observer.

"“(Nakaushiro) has a track record, and I liked what I saw,” Lovullo told Venom Strikes. “He had a very good command of his fast ball, changed speeds and location and his breaking ball was effective. I was very impressed.”"

For his part, Nakaushiro looks at himself as a specialized. Though that may counter Luvollo’s assertion that he wants pitchers to get both left-handed and right-handed hitters out, Nakaushiro’s physical ability is noteworthy.

“Two years ago when I was pitching in Japan, I was not focused,” he told Venom Strikes through an interpreter. “That changed, and now I’m focused on every pitch. I want be a left-handed specialist.”

Next

With no games scheduled, Lovullo has set Thursday and Friday as days to concentrate on fundamentals. The emphasis will concentrate on rundowns, situational hitting, covering bases, and cutoffs, noting, “we want to be a fundamentally sound team.”

Next: Corbin ready to regain rotation spot

The Diamondbacks open the major-league portion of their schedule Saturday at Salt River against the Colorado Rockies this weekend. Because both share the same spring site, the Diamondbacks are the home team Saturday and the Rockies are the home team Sunday in this back-to-back opening series.

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