Ray keeping command issues in perspective

All-Star lefty confident he'll make 'easy fix' before 1st regular-season start

March 20th, 2018

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Robbie Ray wasn't pleased with his outing Tuesday in the D-backs' 6-5 loss to the Angels. The lefty starter gave up just two hits -- a pair of doubles to center field -- but he walked five, including one with the bases loaded.

"After that first inning, my command was just off, and I was walking guys," Ray said. "It wasn't good."

But Ray keeps Spring Training results in perspective, and he's confident he'll be where he wants to be by his first regular-season start.

"Obviously I need to work on something," Ray said. "But it's an easy fix, and after [Spring Training], everything resets back to zero, so I'm not really worried about it."

Under normal circumstances, Ray would start Sunday against the Rockies, then pitch the second game of the season, also against the Rockies.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I should have one more [Cactus League] start, which will be perfect," Ray said. "Be able to iron that stuff out and get ready for the season."

With ace Zack Greinkeout of the running to start the opener and lined up for the third game of the season, the D-backs have yet to announce who will start Opening Day. Ray remains the prime candidate, as manager Torey Lovullo has indicated, but the team is weighing multiple considerations before making a decision.

"We're still adjusting some things and walking through a lot of different scenarios," Lovullo said before Tuesday's game. "We're getting closer."

Speaking of Greinke …

The D-backs have changed course and decided to pitch Greinke on a back field Wednesday rather than have him pitch in their Cactus League game against the Giants, as Greinke had requested.

While it's not uncommon to keep a top pitcher from facing a division rival so close to the regular season, Lovullo said the change in plan was more about ensuring Greinke gets the work he needs in a "controlled environment." The veteran righty is working to get back on track following an abbreviated outing last week.

"We just felt like it made a lot of sense to get the work on the back field where we can dictate the pitches, roll over innings if needed," Lovullo said. "We don't anticipate anything going wrong."

Greinke is targeted for four innings and 60 pitches.

Opening Day preview?

Tuesday's starting lineup looked very close to what the D-backs' Opening Day lineup could be. Left fielder batted leadoff -- where he has hit in every Cactus League game he has started -- followed by A.J. Pollock in center, at first, at third, Steven Souza Jr. in right field, at second, Chris Herrmann catching, Nick Ahmed at short and Ray on the hill.

"I just totally flipped a coin on today's lineup," said Lovullo, tongue in cheek. "I just wanted guys to get in position to get innings, see what it looks like in certain situations and certain combinations, and it just landed as it did today."

While Avila is the projected starting catcher, Herrmann caught 18 of Ray's 28 starts in 2017, rarely missing a turn in the second half of the season. Ray had his most successful season to date, posting a 15-5 record and a 2.89 ERA while striking out 12.1 per nine innings. If Ray ends up on the hill Opening Day, Herrmann could get the start behind the dish.

"We know they had great rapport last year," Lovullo said. "It spoke for itself.

"Herm knows he's competing for a spot, and we're going to put him in every position possible to go out and be successful. [He] has had a tremendous spring, doing a lot of things right."

Injury update

Outfielder Ray Fuentes is day to day with a contusion on his left hand.

"There's a lot of swelling and soreness in there," Lovullo said. "There's no break. It's hard to say [how much he'll miss], but it's going to be more than today and tomorrow."

Up next: The D-backs host the Giants on Wednesday for the first of three consecutive night games for the team. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. MST, and righty Matt Koch is expected to start. The game can be listened to via an exclusive audio webcast.