Straily eyes rotation spot; Peralta makes key adjustments

March 20th, 2022

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The D-backs entered Spring Training with four of their five rotation slots seemingly locked up by Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver, but with Gallen a bit behind due to a bout of bursitis, they may have two spots open.

One of the candidates is right-hander Dan Straily, who the D-backs signed to a Minor League deal out of Korea over the offseason.

Straily had a rough Cactus League debut from a numbers standpoint on Saturday, as he allowed seven runs on nine hits over three innings in a 12-5 loss to the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

"I came in with the mindset of [I'm] just going to fill up the strike zone," Straily said. "As [pitching coach Brent Strom] pointed out to me, I did that a little too well -- a lot of first-pitch hits, a lot of first-pitch hacking that we didn't really expect. But, you know, at the end of the day, the goal was to go out there and throw strikes. Obviously, I wanted to put up all zeros, but wasn't able to do that."

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said that he'd like to see Straily be quicker to make adjustments in the future.

"I've seen him better in some backfield situations, or some other situations where the mixture of pitches is a little bit better," Lovullo said. "I think that's what cost him today. He was trying to get ahead with some fastballs and there were a lot of first-pitch swings today, and I think there needs to a little bit of an adjustment."

The D-backs have a large group of candidates for the fifth spot. Tyler Gilbert opened eyes with his performance in the role last year, which included a no-hitter against the Padres. Taylor Widener, Caleb Smith, Corbin Martin, Humberto Castellanos and Luis Frías are among the other names in the mix.

A number of those pitchers, including Straily, are also candidates to slide into the bullpen if they don't crack the rotation.

While teams look at more than just results when it comes to making decisions during Spring Training, Straily knows there will come a time when he has to produce.

"I think I'd be doing myself a disservice if I lived and died by that outing right there," Straily said. "At the end of the day, it does come down to, 'Can you get outs?' And that's what matters."

Mechanical changes paying off early

The 2021 season did not sit well with veteran left fielder David Peralta, who slumped to a slash line of .259/.325/.402 with eight home runs.

Looking to bounce back, Peralta worked almost five days a week with Astros outfielder Michael Brantley over the offseason. The two have houses near each other in Florida and Peralta would go over to Brantley's to hit.

"After the season that I had last year, I thought, 'I need to change something,'" Peralta said. "I think [Brantley's] one of the best in the business at being consistent. And he cleaned me up. He helped out a lot with that. I always tell him, 'Thank you for all the hard work you put in with me.' He taught me how to do everything correctly. I really appreciate that."

Where he had a leg kick in previous years, Peralta now has more of a toe tap before his swing while he also works on staying back and letting the ball travel.

In his first Cactus League at-bat Saturday, Peralta did just that, staying back on a Daniel Ponce de Leon pitch and driving it the opposite way down the left-field line for a home run. Later, he drove a double into the gap in right-center field.

"First live game for David, so I'm sure he's feeling good about that," Lovullo said. "Obviously, it's nice to see those results, knowing that there are quality adjustments."