SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's easy to look at starting pitcher's final line after a Spring Training game and try to draw conclusions.For D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff, though, the process goes deeper than numbers, and a pitcher's first outing of spring is one they almost toss out
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's easy to look at starting pitcher's final line after a Spring Training game and try to draw conclusions.
For D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff, though, the process goes deeper than numbers, and a pitcher's first outing of spring is one they almost toss out altogether.
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"You're battling a couple of things," Lovullo said. "It's your first outing, you're getting familiar with the mound, you're getting familiar with the situation of facing a hitter, you're probably battling a little bit of nervousness. I think it's probably two or three outings in when guys put it on automatic."
There are six frontrunners for the rotation and only five spots -- unless the D-backs decide to go to go with a six-man rotation in April -- with Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin and Archie Bradley.
Others like Braden Shipley and Zack Godley are also in the mix, but they could serve as bullpen arms if they don't make the rotation.
With the competition comes the temptation to make snap judgments.
Bradley gave up five runs in 1 1/3 innings in his first outing, but the staff dismissed that because he's trying to use his changeup more.
"It's the first outing of the spring; you don't want to put too much into it, either way," Bradley said. "Giving up runs, giving up hits, is not something you like doing. At the same time, it's February. We have a long way to go."
Bradley bounced back on Thursday, tossing three scoreless frames, while striking out four. He allowed hits to the first two batters he faced, but he escaped the first-inning jam and wouldn't allow another runner to reach base.
Ray was not efficient with his pitches against the White Sox on Wednesday, but again it was his first outing of the spring.
"It's mainly just getting back into it, getting back on the mound, making sure you're healthy, making sure your body feels good and it does," Ray said. "I felt strong, felt good and that's the main thing."
On the flip side, Miller looked good in his first outing of the spring last Saturday, but he wasn't going to put too much into that, either.
"I feel like I'm further along than I was at this point last year, which is nice, but there are still things I need to work on -- finishing guys off in certain counts," Miller said.
Good outing or bad, there's always something to work on during Spring Training.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.