Diamondbacks Report: vs Guardians, March 18 — Moreno Okay, Gallen Starts Strong, and More

Diamondbacks Guardians Gabby Moreno follows through on a swing.
(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

Diamondbacks 6, Guardians 4

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (Mar. 18) — Wind was the theme of Saturday in camp for the Arizona Diamondbacks before their Cactus League bout with the Cleveland Guardians. Manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff took advantage of the blustery conditions to have defensive drills in the wind. Zac Gallen had four sound innings before a rough fifth, although he was trying new things out more than anything else. Two big righties thumped a home run each. Gabriel Moreno took a fastball off the hand that made observers nervous. And Gallen was called for a balk but was confused by the reason.

Injury Updates

Outfielder Jake McCarthy, out with flu-like symptoms, is feeling better and should be back in camp Sunday. Whether he plays “will be determined when he walks in the building” on Sunday, according to Lovullo.

First baseman Christian Walker recovered from his bruised hip and played in the game, launching a no-doubt homer into the left-field berm in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Evan Longoria also belted a homer, a two-run shot to left-center in the bottom of the third. Both clouts came off Guardians righty Cal Quantrill, recently returned from national team duty with Canada in the World Baseball Classic.

A fastball struck catcher Gabriel Moreno on the hand during the bottom of the fifth inning. He told reporters after the game that he is okay and believes he “dodged a bullet.” Lovullo agreed and added that there were no x-rays planned. Moreno will be day-to-day.

Right fielder Yairo Munoz left the game with a right calf strain. He will be reassessed Sunday morning, with Lovullo saying there will be “possible imaging.”

Particularly Demanding Camp

A few players have had scheduled off-days thrown into their progression toward being ready to play. This camp, which is one week longer than normal due to the World Baseball Classic, has been a particularly demanding camp, according to some of the staff. Consequently, the medical staff has been scheduling these off-days.

When asked what factors are going into the camp being particularly grueling, Lovullo replied, “Probably the volume. We’ve got a lot of content, a lot of things we need to get to. And it just takes time to have discussions. There are a lot of meetings, some standing around, explanations. Dress rehearsals for pitchers, then everybody comes together. We just go over a lot of information. And those are the small details that I love about this game. These are the small details I think this team does very well. And it shows up. We end up doing a lot of things right when they’re needed. So we put a bunch in our backpack and pull them out when it’s needed.”

When asked if another factor is this being the first full-blown camp in four years, Lovullo responded, “A little bit. We’ve probably gotten through a little bit more over the course of this time. We had the extra week because of the WBC, so we took advantage of that. But yeah, it’s kind of getting back in. For three years, we had been challenged with timing and couldn’t get to these guys. So we’re getting after it probably because we’re back into that that original version of spring training.”

Zac Gallen Performance

Zac Gallen pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits while walking two, hitting one, and striking out five. He only gave up one run across the first four innings before the outing went “wacky” in the fifth. Gallen told reporters the “ball felt like it was coming out of my hand decently” in the first four. “I was having trouble with the cutter, but everything else — slider, changeup curveball — felt pretty good,” he said. In the fifth, “walk, a couple of stolen bases — ball didn’t feel like it was coming out great, like I was losing a little bit of life. But the first four innings felt like everything I’ve worked on, the delivery and everything this week, showed up in the first four innings. So I’m not really too mad about it.”

In some videos, Gallen noticed that recently he was “flying open a little bit” and not keeping his ribs down. When asked if he’s sort of “working on everything” at this point in the spring, he confirmed. He added, “I’m always working on something. But right now, it’s just getting a feel for those pitches in the game. I’d say there was probably a good amount of scenarios today where I probably threw pitches that I wouldn’t normally throw in counts and scenarios. Maybe a lot more changeups in situations I wouldn’t throw them in, maybe sliders.

“But I just want to get a feel for that and get used to either playing that first strike or swing-and-miss. Try not to rely on the same pitches. A lot of cutters today just because I wanted to get the feel for that. I’m working on stuff, but at the same time competing and still trying to get outs.”

Balk…Yet He Still Doesn’t Know What He Did

Gallen was called for a balk in the fifth. “It’s the same pickoff I’ve been doing for years. Never got called for it.” He still didn’t know what he did when he spoke to reporters. “I thought they said my knee buckled. Then Walker said the first base umpire told him it was because I didn’t gain ground. I don’t know. Never got a full answer.”

Gallen feels there’s “a lot of grey area with the rules.” He likened the pitch clock to the shot clock in basketball, where if the clock expires before the ball leaves a player’s hand and either goes in or hits the rim, it’s a violation without exception. “It should be black and white,” he said. “Everyone’s learning at the same time, but there’s a lot of grey area. The season is getting very close. That’s the last thing you want, some sort of grey-area violation to ruin a big spot in the game. So I hope we get it sorted out.”

Torey Lovullo Postgame

Lovullo told reporters postgame that Gallen “threw the ball extremely well,” saying he was “aggressive with his fastball, ahead in a lot of counts, and had a good mixture of all pitches.” He said the team had “a little hiccup” in the fifth, playing in a “sloppy fashion.” Specifically, Lovullo pointed out the stolen bases, saying the team needed to do a better job holding runners on. “We don’t like stolen bases. A free 90 feet are not part of our game plan.”

Kevin Ginkel, Ryan Hendrix, Jeurys Familia, and Miguel Castro all pitched scoreless relief. Ginkel threw 1 1/3 innings, while everyone else tossed an inning. Lovullo praised their efforts, saying they “did a good job and gave us a chance to win the game.”

Looking Ahead

The Diamondbacks will continue Cactus League play Sunday afternoon. They will face the Kansas City Royals at Salt River Fields. Lefty Tommy Henry will take the mound for the Diamondbacks against right-hander and future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke. First pitch will be at 1:10 pm.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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