Arizona Diamondbacks and Jake Barrett: Timetable for Return Unknown
By Joseph Jacquez
Reliever Jake Barrett of the Arizona Diamondbacks is on a different timeline to start spring training
On Sunday, Jake Barrett informed the media that he had experienced shoulder stiffness since the start of spring workouts with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he has not thrown a bullpen session.
Before Sunday’s game against the Colorado Rockies, Manager Torey Lovullo informed Venom Strikes that the 25-year-old right-hander had been shut down indefinitely.
“Just a little stiffness, didn’t feel right so I shut it down, got an MRI and it’s perfectly fine,” Barrett said, speaking to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com
The MRI showed inflammation in the right shoulder, but no structural damage. Barrett has started light throwing.
Barrett had thrown a couple of bullpen sessions before he arrived at Salt River Fields with teammates. It is not known when Barrett will see game action.
“He’s obviously a little bit behind,” Lovullo said to Venom Strikes before Sunday’s game. “He’s in a throwing progression, and as far as his ramp-up timing, we’re not sure at this point, but we’re going to take it day by day. Knowing that he’s a reliever, getting him ramped up is not as big of a challenge for someone who is a starter. We feel like he could catch up, but the timeline is yet undetermined.”
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Getting in Shape
Barrett lost 30 pounds this past offseason, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Upland, California native said he “ate a lot of cookies last season.”
“I was at my all-time high at the end of the season, about 265 (pounds),” Barrett said, speaking to Piecoro. “And I talked to our strength coach and he said he wanted me down to 235-ish. I was able to get down all the way to there. It was a lot of working out, a lot of running, a healthy diet.”
Barrett, according to the active roster on dbacks.com, is listed at 240 pounds. Barrett, closer Fernando Rodney and right-hander Randall Delgado should have guaranteed spots in the bullpen, but the words “shoulder stiffness” should raise alarm bells, especially when its a pitcher.
Important Part of the Pen
The Diamondbacks’ bullpen did not get the job done in 2016. As a unit, their 4.94 ERA was 27th in baseball, ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Rockies.
Barrett was one of the bright spots. The right-hander went 1-2 with a 3.49 ERA (23 ER/59.1 IP) in 68 appearances. He spent time in the majors on two separate occasions during his rookie campaign.
Barrett, who became the fourth player in franchise history to play high school, college, and major-league ball all in Arizona, was third in saves, tied for third in appearances and sixth in ERA, among N.L. rookie relievers. He played for Desert Ridge High School and Arizona State University.
Barrett finished last season with a career-long 12.2 scoreless innings streak and 13-straight scoreless appearances, the third-longest streak by an Arizona pitcher. All but one of his last 12 outings were hitless, and during that streak, opposing batters were 1-for-32 (.031).
Barrett averaged about 96 on his four-seam fastball and threw an equivalent dose of sliders that averaged about 88. He struck out eight batters per nine innings, with a healthy 44.8 ground-ball percentage.
He will need to clean up his control to be effective. Barrett walked 4.25 batters per nine innings. He walked more batters (28) than earned runs allowed (23).
Barrett also gave up six home runs, but walks were the bigger concern. Despite this, Barrett limited lefties to a .217 average and righties to a .213 average, and opposing batters hit .194 off the flamethrower with RISP.
Related Story: Fernando Rodney the closer, rest of bullpen uncertain
Barrett was effective last season, and if he can improve his walk rate, he will be an effective late-inning reliever for many years.