With the Cactus League winding down to the last week-and-a-half, the Arizona Diamondbacks roster is starting to take shape.
Lately, the D-backs have been focusing on the bullpen. Injuries plagued the Arizona bullpen early in Spring, but as spring moves along, healthy relievers are making their way back to full-time duties.
On top of that, the D-backs are narrowing down the candidates for the starting catcher position.
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Let’s start with the bullpen though.
As reported by MLB.com this week, closer Addison Reed is getting closer to making his return to the club. Reed has been suffering from inflammation in his right shoulder during the spring.
Reports said that Reed threw a batting practice session and is supposedly “100 percent” healthy. He is expected to be ready for opening day.
In addition to Reed, the D-backs have secured their eigth inning guy, Brad Ziegler, who is also returning from microfracture surgery on his left knee.
Zielger made is first start of the spring Sunday against the Colorado Rockies. Ziegler went one inning, giving up one run on two hits and walked a batter. The one run allowed was a home run off the bat of Corey Dickerson, his first of the spring.
Along with Ziegler and Reed, Matt Reynolds has returned from Tommy John surgery and has pitched in four game so far in the Cactus League. David Hernandez, who had the same surgery, is scheduled to make his return in early May.
Reliever Matt Stites has been keeping a close eye on his elbow issues. He is worried he might need surgery. He has thrown from the mound so far this spring, but has yet to appear in a game.
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So, there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the injuries surrounding the bullpen. The question that lingers though is, how will these guys fare when it comes to the regular season?
Surely it is possible these guys will be a little cautious out of the gate to make sure they are completely healthy, so who do the D-backs have in reserve?
It has been reported that they have a couple of young guys they are looking at the add a little more depth the pen.
Pitching Coach Mike Harkey told Nick Piecoro at AZCentral.com that the team is looking at Panamanian Enrique Burgos, who has been clocked throwing in the upper 90s. They are also focusing on Andrew Chafin and A.J. Schugel.
Both Chafin and Schugel worked as starters in the minor leagues. Chafin has worked six innings so far this Spring and owns a 9.00 era. Schugel has an era of 3.86 and has appeared in seven innings in the Cactus League.
The D-backs have said all of these guys are in the mix.
While the bullpen may be working out some kinks still, the starting catcher position has been narrowed down to three; Tuffy Gosewisch, Gerald Laird and Blake Lalli.
Gosewisch looks to be the front-runner for the starting job after an injury to Oscar Hernandez last week. Hernandez was slated to be the everyday starter, but will start the season on the DL. Gosewisch has appeared in 11 games this spring and is hitting .286 with three RBI.
The 35-year-old Laird is slated to take the back-up spot. He is liked for his veteran presence. Laird has spent parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues and signed a minor league deal in the offseason with Arizona.
Should the D-backs decide the carry three catchers, Lalli will most likely fill that role.
Lalli has been in the minors since 2006. He saw a brief moment in the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 and 2013, appearing in 22 games combined.
The 2015 D-backs are starting to take shape. Any way you look at them, they are one of the younger teams in the league.
It’ll be interesting, assuming Gosewisch wins the starting role, how he will mix the rotation and bullpen.
We are only a couple of weeks from opening day. We will get the answers we want soon enough. For now, let’s hope these guys get the preparation they need this Spring.