Bradley craves more Spring Training innings

February 29th, 2020

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs closer had a request for manager Torey Lovullo when Spring Training opened: “Pitch me more.”

In an attempt to get off to a better start than he did last year, Bradley wants to throw more innings in Spring Training than he did last year, and he wants to pitch multiple innings in games.

“Basically,” Bradley said, “it’s me just getting back to getting ready the way I always have -- a comfortable feeling.”

After Bradley appeared in a career-high 76 games in 2018, the D-backs wanted to bring him along slowly last spring. They limited his appearances and innings to six Cactus League games and six innings.

Bradley struggled in the first half of last year, compiling a 4.95 ERA vs. a 1.71 mark in the second half.

While not saying that was the reason for the early struggles, Bradley wants to prepare more like he did in 2017, when he was trying to win a spot in the rotation. That spring, Bradley made seven appearances, including three starts, and threw 18 2/3 innings.

“Every year except last year, I’ve prepared that way, whether I was a starter building all the way up to five innings,” Bradley said. “Even in ’18, I had one or two three-inning outings. Last year was the first year they tried to tone us all down. They started us later, we only did one-inning stints, we didn’t do a back to back, and I understood it. It was a smart idea on workload, but I just kind of want to go back to the way I’ve always gotten ready.”

Lovullo has not officially named Bradley the closer, but that’s just a formality at this point.

That role typically has thrown just one inning, but Bradley prides himself on being able to get four, five or six outs, if needed, and he wants to make sure he does that this spring.

Last year, Bradley went more than one inning in 20 of his 66 appearances.

“I feel like part of what made me successful last year -- and has always made me successful -- has been being able to get six outs, being able to get seven outs,” Bradley said. “I know that doesn’t happen as many times in the ninth, but I do want Torey to feel comfortable that I can get four outs or five outs and know that he can have me in the game the next day because I’ve done that before.”

Since his dominant 2017 season, Bradley has not been able to put together two good halves of a season. He was great in the first half 2018 and struggled in the second, and last year it was the opposite.

“I need to be able to put together two full halves,” Bradley said. “It’s staying on top of things more. I’ve grown up, I’ve matured, I know more about my body, my arm. We have the technology now, the people in place, so it’s about just staying on top of things early, checking the numbers and making sure I’m in the spots I need to be.”