'I'm exhausted for him': Carroll hits walk-off in hectic stretch

Rookie staying present amid All-Star Game selection, injury scares

July 9th, 2023

PHOENIX -- For a while now, people keep trying to pull Corbin Carroll out of the present moment and into the future, but the D-backs outfielder, wise beyond his 22 years of age, simply won’t allow it.

Staying present is what allowed him to thrive in the Minors last season while everyone was asking him when he was going to be called up to the Majors. It’s what kept him focused on his shoulder rehab in 2021 when people wanted to know if he would be the same hitter with a surgically-repaired shoulder.

And it’s how he dealt with the last 10 days, an emotional rollercoaster that saw him elected to start for the National League team in the All-Star Game and then deal with having to leave games early twice following pain in that same shoulder.

On Saturday, Carroll delivered the game-winning hit, a liner down the line in right to score Jake McCarthy, as the D-backs walked off the Pirates, 3-2, in 10 innings at Chase Field.

“I'm exhausted for him,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of what Carroll has been through the past week. “And I don't know how he's doing it. He’s a young kid and he's managing a lot. It's balancing a lot. It's balancing his emotions, and that's hard. It's hard for anybody. So, you know, I tried to just get with him and let him know that I'm proud of him for that and that we're behind him.”

Carroll was forced to leave Thursday night’s game after taking an awkward swing and feeling discomfort in his right shoulder. As Carroll walked off the field that night, Lovullo said he worried that the season was over for the rookie phenom.

An MRI taken the next morning, however, showed that the shoulder was structurally sound, and Carroll talked his way into the lineup Friday night. He was in it again Saturday afternoon.

“A lot going on,” Carroll said. “Just trying to be in the present. Those things happened in the past, and there's stuff to come in the future, but [I’m] just trying to be here. We’ve got a great group of guys who’ve kind of helped make that possible. It's fun to be around these guys every day.”

Carroll was in the moment in the 10th inning. He anticipated that with one out and runners on second and third with the score tied that the Pirates would intentionally walk Ketel Marte to get to him.

“No surprise,” Carroll said. “I was in the box before Ketel had taken his stuff off.”

With the count at 2-2, Pirates All-Star closer David Bednar threw a 98 mph fastball that Carroll fouled off. Bednar came back with a curveball down and in, and Carroll managed to drop the head of the bat on it and line it for the game-winner.

“I'd been working on curveballs with the hitting coaches before the game,” Carroll said. “So kind of cool to [get the hit] on that pitch type.”

It was a good win for the D-backs, who, with starter Merrill Kelly on the injured list, went with a bullpen game using seven pitchers to get through the 10 innings.

Meanwhile, the Pirates started their ace, Mitch Keller, and he was outstanding, holding the D-backs to just one hit over seven shutout innings. They finally broke through and tied the game in the eighth, when reliever Colin Holderman gave up a homer to the first batter he faced, Alek Thomas, on his second pitch.

“We just kept fighting all day long,” Lovullo said. “Their All-Star starter was no-hitting us for most of the game, but we just kept grinding it down.”