Jameson changes it up; Ahmed makes spring debut

March 7th, 2023

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Arizona coaching staff really wanted to get a good look Monday at  as competition heats up for the fifth spot in the D-backs’ rotation.

So much so that manager Torey Lovullo used the Spring Training rule instituted in 2021 that allows pitchers to reenter a game after being lifted. Hence Jameson’s two stints against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium in his third Cactus League start.

The 25-year-old righty -- a first-round Draft pick in 2019 -- made his case for a rotation spot in at least one of his stints during the D-backs’ 10-1 loss to the Royals. Kansas City hitters reached Jameson in the second, and when he was pulled after two mound visits in the inning, he “for sure” thought he was done for the day.

Until he was sent back out to start the third inning in relief of Carlos Vargas, who had taken over for Jameson in the second. Jameson had never been a part of that kind of switcheroo.

“Never,” he smiled. “I was a little confused.”

He went from confused to dialed in.

After issuing a solo home run to center to Royals second baseman Michael Massey in the first inning, Jameson gave up hits the other way to Dairon Blanco and Freddy Fermin in the second to widen the Royals' lead to 3-0.

Then, after reentering in the bottom of the third with 37 pitches already under his belt, Jameson picked up three outs on nine pitches after going to his changeup.

“Early on in games, I don’t want to use it if I don’t have to. And after that second inning, I had to use it,” said Jameson, who promptly struck out Hunter Dozier and Johan Camargo upon his return. “I probably should have gone to it a lot earlier than I did.”

Jameson was scheduled to throw 50 pitches, said Lovullo, who added that the rare reentry for his starter was to keep him from racking up his pitch count in one inning.

“We just didn’t want him to accumulate a huge total in that second inning, and it gives us a look at another pitcher such as Vargas, to evaluate him with a little bit of a crisis situation in front of him,” Lovullo said. “So we’re still evaluating everybody.”

Jameson looked strong in his first two Spring Training starts. He had allowed one hit over four scoreless innings, plus three strikeouts, entering Monday. And he closed 2022 on a high note after making his MLB debut as a September callup, when he went 3-0 over 24 1/3 innings with 24 strikeouts to go along with a sparkling 1.48 ERA.

“His stuff was really sharp [today], and he just made some little mental mistakes, some 0-2 mistakes,” Lovullo said. “Those things are identifiable, and a conversation will take place.”

Ahmed makes spring debut 
Shortstop  made his 2023 Cactus League debut on Monday.

Left forearm tightness/inflammation had kept the veteran off the field this spring as he enters his 10th big league season, all in the desert.

He struck out in each of his first two at-bats, then he lined a single.

“Felt good, it’s been a while. It’s good to get back out there and play some baseball,” Ahmed said. “Obviously the game didn’t go how we wanted it to, but it’s good to bang some rust off.”

Ahmed has missed time in each of the last three seasons since he jammed his right shoulder in 2020. The injury limited him to just 17 games last year before he had surgery on the shoulder.

Camp notes 
• Outfielder  may make his first Spring Training appearance on Tuesday against the A’s in Scottsdale. Acquired from Seattle this past offseason, the veteran has dealt with knee issues throughout his career while playing just 100 combined games over the past two seasons, including time in the Minors. Lovullo said Monday Lewis “felt great” and is ready to DH.

• The D-backs have a “B” game on Tuesday in Surprise against the Rangers at 10 a.m. MT. They may have another “B” game on Friday, but that’s not official yet. 

“This is when the pitchers start to stretch out that extra inning or two,” Lovullo noted of the additional reps.

• After leaving Saturday’s game against the Padres in the third inning with back spasms, outfielder  remains day to day, but the prognosis looks encouraging. 

“He feels really good,” Lovullo said. “He felt some discomfort and spoke up to get ahead of it.”