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Arizona Diamondbacks: Patrick Corbin steps up his game

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Sep 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (46) throws during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (46) throws during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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Left-hander Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks was dominant against the Rangers and retired 15 straight at one point

Left-hander Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks made a rather definite statement Tuesday afternoon. That’s when he cranked out his best outing of the spring and attempted to create separation with righty Archie Bradley for the final rotation spot.

With just under three weeks remaining in spring training, the four of the five starters seem set with Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller. The final spot is up for grabs between Bradley and Corbin.

If Corbin was serious about creating space, he seemed to drive a wedge between the competition with a stellar effort against the Texas Rangers at Salt River. After Delino DeShields had opened the game with a single, Corbin retired the next 15 in a row and struck out five hitters along the way. For the game, the Diamondbacks pounded the Rangers, 12-0, and the offense was powered by home runs from Chris Iannetta and Chris Owings.

Afterward, Corbin told Venom Strikes one goal remains paramount.

"Last year, I wasn’t throwing strikes. That’s what I wanted to do this spring. I’m feeling better each start out and stronger. I was able to throw my fast ball away for strikes. I have three more starts (in spring training). I want to increase my pitch count and build on that."

In his five innings against the Rangers, Corbin tossed 56 pitches and hit the strike zone 42 times.

From his perspective, manager Torey Luvollo pointed out to Venom Strikes that Corbin continues to improve. The ability to throw first-pitch strikes and command the strike zone remains principal for all starters.

"Patrick threw five crisp innings and was very strong. He worked on some things he normally does not like the running game."

Because Corbin allowed just one runner, DeShields’ single to open the game, that might be a stretch. For now, Corbin seems to settle into a pattern which eluded him earlier this spring. If maxes out on a consistent basis over the final weeks of spring training, he might be able to turn the page back to his All-Star season of 2013.

Day-to-day?

With less than three weeks before opening day, the Diamondbacks are without the projected two-thirds of their starting outfielder.

More from Venom Strikes

Center-fielder A. J. Pollock suffered tightness in his left groin this past Sunday, and manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes he is day-to-day. Speaking before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers at Salt River, Lovullo pointed out that Pollock will undergo treatment in the coming days and his playing time will be carefully watched.

At the same time, Yasmany Tomas, penciled in to start in left field, continues to have a combination of poor performance and a painful back. Tomas was originally slated to start Tuesday’s game, but he is now pushed ahead several days.

Out of the lineup both Tuesday and Wednesday, Lovullo told Venom Strikes Tomas may play Thursday. His situation, along with Pollock and injured pitchers Jake Barrett, Steve Hathaway and Silvino Bracho, Lovullo indicated to Venom Strikes, are all carefully considered.

"We will not push any part of the process. We’ll willing to wait another day or two and make sure a player is ready."

With Tomas, he is off to an 0-for-17 start for six games. As well, he is nursing a strained back which has limited his play and delayed Lovullo’s in-depth evaluation.

What’s up with the Velocity?

Issues surrounding Zack Greinke and lack of velocity on his fastball do not seem to go away.

Before Tuesday’s game, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes he discounted the importance some place on the speed of a fastball. At this point, it’s preparation for the season ahead and not concern on travels of a fastball. Traditionally, Greinke throws in the low 90s but his pinpoint control and ability to move the ball through the strike zone still make him one of the best pitchers in the game.

In a minor-league game Monday, Greinke tossed five innings and had a limit of 57 pitches.

Roster moves

Before Monday’s game, the Diamondbacks reduced their roster by six players. Optioned to Triple-A Reno was left-hander Anthony Banda and righty Jimmie Sherfy. Optioned to Double-A Jackson was infielder Dawel Lugo. Assigned to the minor-league camp were lefties Daniel Gibson and Jared Miller along with right-hander Frank Duncan.

Of the players assigned, Banda was thought to have the greatest opportunity to make the 25-man roster coming out of training camp. While manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes the organization has a blueprint for each player, Banda was a unique consideration.

"Any time you put a pause on a major league dream, it’s a difficult decision. We sent Anthony down so he could continue his development. He’s going down to Reno to start, and we’ll see where his development takes him from there."

Next: Ray remains in 'a good place'

Next

On Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks bus over to Mesa and a night game against the Chicago Cubs. Right-hander Taijuan Walker gets the start and draws right-hander Kyle Hendricks as his mound opponent. For Thursday, the Diamondbacks get back on the bus and travel to Phoenix and an afternoon encounter with the Milwaukee Brewers. Left-hander Robbie Ray is scheduled to start for Arizona.

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