D-backs pleased with M. Kelly's progress

March 22nd, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- continued his run of good outings, as he allowed just one run on three hits over five innings Thursday afternoon in the D-backs' 2-1 loss to the Angels at Salt River Fields.

Kelly, who was signed by the D-backs in December after spending the past four years pitching in Korea, struggled mightily in his first two spring games, allowing six runs over two innings.

Since then, though, he has allowed just three runs in 13 2/3 innings.

“I think the first couple, those are behind me,” said Kelly, who is expected to be the team’s fifth starter. “The first couple were just a lot of nerves, a lot of emotions, a lot of excitement, and just [the] first couple of games of spring -- just trying to get my feet underneath me and putting a little too much emphasis on those first two games. I like the way I’ve been able to progress from start to start. For Spring Training, I think that’s the key.”

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo liked what he saw from Kelly on Thursday.

“I thought Merrill Kelly threw the ball extremely well today,” Lovullo said. “He was controlling the zone. I thought at times when he made a mistake, he would regroup and make some quality pitches.”

Jones in right
got the start in right field after playing center in his first Cactus League appearance Tuesday night.

The D-backs expect to play Jones at all three outfield positions during the regular season. Lovullo will start him one more time in center and at least once in left before then.

“I know that he’s more than capable of playing center field, that’s not a big issue,” Lovullo said. “I think there might be some newness to ball angles and ball spin on the corners, but I think he’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, Marte
bounced between second base and center field Thursday. The switch-hitter is expected to play those two positions at times, as well as back up Nick Ahmed at shortstop.

Prior to Spring Training, Marte had played center field in only two games during his big league career, but the reviews on him this spring have been positive.

“I want to be fair to him, to give him as much equal time at each spot as possible,” Lovullo said. “He’s a pretty dynamic player, and I think he’s done a great job of figuring out center field, so now it’s time to lock down a little of the infield play, and it’s not an issue.”

Up next
The D-backs take to the road to play the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch on Friday at 1:05 p.m. MST. Matt Koch, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, will get the start for the D-backs.