Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks did not identify his starters in any particular order.
This may have been the best-kept secret which was well-known. When manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks named his starting rotation before Friday’s game, that was hardly breaking news.
Before the Diamondbacks took the field against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on a perfect Arizona afternoon, Lovullo indented Zack Greinke, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller as his starters to open the season.
The only possible question was the final spot between Archie Bradley and Corbin. Bradley was told he made the 25-man roster and would start the season in the bullpen. Bradley came to camp energized and enthusiastic about landing in the rotation.
As a starter, the Oklahoma native turned in a strong final five weeks of last season. That created a balance, and with Corbin banished to the bullpen in early August, both arrived in camp within a competitive environment.
To Ray and Corbin in particular, the uncertainty of not knowing where they stood until the final week of spring training was not an issue. That was a dimension of the decision which Lovullo expressed to Venom Strikes.
"It was not easy to go out and compete with this distraction. These guys are ready for competition and I’m anxious to see how things work out."
At this point, Lovullo discounted any particular order on which the five will take the ball. Only Greinke, who will open the season on April 2 at home against the San Francisco Giants, seems set in the rotation.
From here, Lovullo told Venom Strikes he is not concerned with any order and did not anoint any one pitcher as a “number two, “a number three,” and through five. Lovullo also would not commit to throwing Ray and Corbin, both lefties, in a back-to-back starts.
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For now, Greinke starts the season against Giants’ lefty Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74 ERA in 34 starts) and that appears the only reality set in stone at this point.
More roster moves
Before Friday’s game, the Diamondbacks sent three players to their minor league camp. These include outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz, and the right-hander, Erik Davis.
One player who had a reasonable to chance to make the final 25-man roster was Matusz.
Following eight seasons between the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, Matusz, at 30-years-old, arrived in camp to battle Andrew Chafin as the primary lefty out of the bullpen.
In addressing the decision, manager Torey Lovullo said there could be an opportunity for Matusz to pitch later this season at Chase Field.
"We told Brian to get on a roll, build more arm strength and finish his pitches. If that happens, he could be back."
Also assigned to the minor league camp was catcher Josh Thole, who is out of the year following surgery to address ligament damage to his right knee. Thole sustained that injury in a game against the Cubs on March 15.
On Friday, the Diamondbacks returned right-hander Tyler Jones to the New York Yankees. Jones, a Rule 5 selection last December, appeared in eight games this spring, had an 0-1 record and a 4.05 ERA.
On Saturday, the Diamondbacks bus over to Tempe and take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Righty Taijuan Walker gets the start for Arizona and will be opposed by lefty Tyler Skaggs. For Sunday, the Diamondbacks return to Salt River and engage the Cleveland Indians. Former Diamondback Trevor Bauer is slated to start for Cleveland and manager Torey Lovullo, on Friday, did not name a starter for Sunday.