Sherfy prepares for first full big league season

Right-hander had 11 scoreless appearances as rookie in 2017

March 1st, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On his first day in the big leagues last August, D-backs right-hander began playing catch with bullpen catcher in the outfield of an empty Target Field in Minneapolis.

There was one problem.

"I couldn't even feel my body," said Sherfy, the D-backs' No. 15 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. "I was like, 'If this is like this in the game, then I'm in trouble.' When I was warming up to go into the game, I felt normal, but that first catch play? I couldn't feel my body."

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As it turned out, the only people in trouble when Sherfy was in an actual game were opposing hitters. He made 11 appearances last season and allowed just five hits across 10 2/3 scoreless innings. As the scoreless innings began to pile up, Sherfy moved into higher-leverage situations.

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"We integrated him slowly into the game plan," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was showing a certain degree of comfort that he was executing pitches and his demeanor was fitting in quickly. He earned the respect and trust of his teammates, as well, which is important here."

Last year was Lovullo's first as Arizona's manager, but his history with Sherfy runs deep. Sherfy and Lovullo's son, Nick, played together at Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and he watched the 26-year-old reliever grow up.

So when Lovullo handed the ball to Sherfy for the first time on Aug. 20, it was a little emotional.

"That's where it kind of went full circle, when I started to put him into those games and I was watching Jimmie Sherfy running from the outfield," Lovullo said. "I had a moment there where it was a special feeling for me that I was getting ready to put Jimmie into the game."

After one of Sherfy's outings later in September, setup man pulled him aside.

"I told him, 'Dude, with the way you've been throwing the ball don't be surprised if you make this playoff roster,'" Bradley said. "He didn't know what to say."

Pitching into late September for the first time in his career, Sherfy did not modify his workout program, which included a lot of dry mound work where he simulates throwing without a ball. With 10 days left to go in the regular season, he began to feel some tightness in his triceps and was almost left off the postseason roster.

"I would say I just need to work smarter," Sherfy said. "Just obviously less dry work and I think a lot more visualization this year."

Sherfy has experienced some shoulder fatigue this spring, so he has yet to get into a Cactus League game.

"We're just going to back off and give him a little bit of rest," Lovullo said. "We have a great medical team. They just recommended we give him some time down."