According the Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley, the cup was half-empty and, at the same time, half-filled.
That’s how Miley characterized his initial outing of spring Saturday against Texas at Salt River. Despite allowing three runs in two innings of work, the 26 year-old native of Hammond, La., said he felt good, comfortable and essentially satisfied with the outing.
Then again, there’s an effort ahead on pin-point location and improve his curve ball. Overall, this was Miley’s first competitive effort since last October, and declared the experience as positive.
“I saw some good things but still need to work on my curve,” he said. “I thought the ball coming out of my hand was good and I had good fast ball command. Then again, I thought I was missing high and rushing my delivery.”
Perhaps such minor things require adjustments, but Miley looked smooth and confident in his mechanics.
Though the pitch count was higher than he would like, Miley still has a month here in spring training to refine his game and structure “a game face.”
Regarding the pitch count, he was behind most hitters and walked the Rangers’ leadoff hitter Lance Berkman on seven pitches to open the game. Then, first baseman Mitch Moreland reached first on a weak single to right. Nelson Cruz followed with a RBI single and Moreland later scored on a sacrifice fly to right off the bat of A. J. Pierzynski.
In the second, centerfielder Craig Gentry homered to left but Miley then settled down and retired the next three hitters.
For the afternoon, he allowed those three runs, three hits and a walk. At this point, Miley hinted, no concern and no worry.
“It was good to face hitters other than our own team,” he said. “But, I need to work on my curve. I want to get to a point where I can throw this for strikes on a 3-1 count.”
Miley is the last of the four named starters to get the ball from manager Kirk Gibson this spring. In an effort to reach a decision on the fifth starter, Gibson has pushed Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Miley back in the spring training rotation.
Here, he’s elevated Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Randall Delgado to pick up more starts. The reason is further inspection on the potential fifth starter.
Miley is coming off a 16-11 season, 3.33 ERA, and finished second in the rookie-of-the-year balloting. However from Aug, 22 to the end of the season, Wiley was 2-3, one no-decision and dropped two of his final four starts with one no-decision.
Gibson theorized Miley’s late-season experience as a rookie may have resulted in two factors.
First, Miley finished with 194.2 innings pitched, could have simply run out of gas. As well, teams may have figured out Miley on certain levels and the second and third times around facing teams became greater challenges.
“This is a game of adjustments,” Gibson said. “We make adjustments to what we see and I’m sure teams make adjustments to us.”
After his first outing of the spring, Miley, in his session with the media, appeared more confident, more flowing with his words, displayed an engaging smile, and was open in discussing refinement of his game.
All encouraging signs.
On the day, the Diamondbacks dropped a 7-1 decision to the Rangers before a sell-out crowd of 12,654 at Salt River.
Matt Davidson drove in the only run with a two-out, eighth single. That followed a triple from Chris Owings, and each team had nine hits.
CHANGING WBC TEAMS
On the eve of the World Baseball Classic, Diamondbacks’ reliever David Hernandez was declared ineligible for Team Mexico.
Hernandez is one of seven D-backs headed for respective teams in the international tournament. With games played in Japan and Taiwan overnight Friday/Saturday, players are ready to depart major league spring training camps to join their country’s team training camps in the Western Hemisphere.
In the end, Hernandez will not join prospective teammates on Team Mexico but will head down the hall at the D-backs complex to join Team USA. The Americans will use the Salt River facility as their training base and headquarters.
While Hernandez’s great-grandparents were born Mexico, his grandparents were born in the United States. For that reason, he did not fit the criteria for Team Mexico eligibility.
On Saturday morning, Team USA manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Greg Maddox approached Hernandez in the D-backs clubhouse at Salt River and extended an offer to play for the United States. Because of strained right shoulder, Cleveland reliever Chris Perez was scratched from Team USA earlier this week, and that created a roster spot.
“(Hernandez) was on our interest list from the start,” said Torre Saturday afternoon. “In order to get him on the team, we had to go through proper channels and do things the right way.”
Once the paperwork and related procedures were pronounced in good order, Torre and Maddox made the move and reported Hernandez was ecstatic.
Going into the tournament, Torre will carry 15 pitchers, five starters and 10 relievers. Given restrictions such as limits for spring training preparation and pitch count, Torre said Hernandez should emerge as an important member of Team USA pitching staff.
Hernandez joins fellow Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist and pitcher Heath Bell on the American roster.
Following Saturday’s game with Texas, Martin Pardo, Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra left the Diamondbacks for Team Venezuela. As well, non-roster pitcher Nelson Figueroa headed to Team Puerto Rico after the Randers game.
For the seven Arizona players in set to participate in the WBC, manager Kirk Gibson hopes for an injury-free experience.
“We just want them to take care of themselves,” Gibson said prior to Saturday’s game. “We wish them well but they realize they have to be smart.”
Regarding the Venezuelan trio, Gibson simply smiled and said, “I hope they win every game, but lose the final to us.”
The “us” was an obvious reference to Team USA.
IN THE HOUSE …
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig stopped by the Salt River complex on Saturday to announce that Major League Baseball and the players union will engage in talks to stiffen penalties for substance abuse.
Speaking to reporters during the Diamondbacks-Rangers game, Selig said he was influenced by recent suspensions given to Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon and he wants to increase penalties, especially for first time offensives.
“I would change everything,” Selig said. “We have to have the best interest of the sport. Look, nothing is perfect but I’m encouraged by the support of the majority of players in this effort.”
Selig said 5,000 tests were conducted in last year, and only five convictions. Admitting the rate is low, Selig pointed out the ultimate goal is reach zero.
Supporting Selig in this direction, “we have to make the risk much tougher than the reward,” said former Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa, who attended the news briefing.
Though Selig would not commit to a timetable where the players union and MLB would reach an agreement, the commissioner only said the players’ union was interested in pursuing the dialogue.