Varsho gets going, Marte stars in victory

September 5th, 2020

is experiencing growing pains that come with being a young Major League player.

The D-backs catcher is searching for the balance between being too aggressive in the batter’s box and being too patient. Like all players, he tweaks his approach and continually works on his mechanics in search of success.

It’s reached the point where D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has implored the rookie to think less, act more. And on Friday against the Giants, that’s exactly what Varsho did.

paved the way to Friday’s 6-5 victory at Oracle Park with three extra-base hits, but the 24-year-old Varsho also recorded a pair of hits and recorded his first career RBIs.

And if the club expects to have depth behind the plate in the future, they are going to need Varsho to develop. The young catcher came into Friday’s game without a hit in his previous 13 at-bats. He left it feeling more confident.

“Right away, it was a big learning curve and I think it is for a lot of people who come up,” Varsho said. “It was frustrating at the time, but hopefully, that time is coming to an end. Hopefully, I can keep doing what I'm doing like I did today and come back and keep replicating those at-bats and taking the positives out of every day and keep moving forward.”

It would serve him well to watch Marte, 26, and learn from his teammate. In less than four seasons in Arizona, Marte has turned himself into an All-Star and an MVP candidate.

Marte was 23 -- a little younger than Varsho -- when he was acquired with Taijuan Walker by the D-backs from Seattle in the winter of 2016 in the trade that sent Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger to the Mariners. He went on to experience the usual ups and downs that come with being a young player, but he eventually found his groove.

On Friday, Marte showed his aggressiveness in the batter’s box. He hit a home run in the first inning and drove home Varsho with a double in the third to push the D-backs ahead, 2-1. He hit another double, his third extra-base hit in the game, in the sixth inning. In addition to tying his career high for extra-base hits in a game, he had a single in the ninth for his fourth hit of the game.

“He spoiled us what he did last year and obviously, we have huge expectations for him,” Lovullo said. “But he's working his butt off and he's doing all that he can. Today was a really good day and he was impacting the baseball.”

As for Varsho, the catcher drove in a pair of runs with a single to right field, the first two RBIs of his pro career, in the fourth to give Arizona a 4-2 advantage. The Giants cut it to one run on a double by Mauricio Dubón in the bottom half of the frame, but the D-backs responded with two runs in the fifth to push the lead back to 6-3. Varsho came close to hitting his first big league home run in the top of the sixth but Dubón caught the drive at the wall in center field.

“His first couple of hits obviously were a big relief for him because I know he's been grinding,” Lovullo said. “He's got his teammates that are really excited for him and backing him. The dugout erupted a couple of times when he did his job with a couple base hits early.”

The D-backs squashed a scoring threat in the eighth inning on a spectacular double play with the bases loaded and no outs on a shallow fly ball to right field by Alex Dickerson. Kole Calhoun caught the ball and relayed it to first baseman Christian Walker, who proceeded to throw out Dubón, who had drifted off of second base. Evan Longoria grounded out to end the inning and Kevin Ginkel pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the win.

“It was a fun win for us tonight,” Lovullo said. “We're going to enjoy it. I’m really proud of these guys. They’re fighters. They’re grinders and they’re going to continue to do so every single day.”