BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Getting hit in the face by a 100+ MPH baseball will change a person; just ask Archie Bradley.
Last April, Bradley was struck on the side of his face by a line drive off of Rockies’ right fielder Carlos Gonzalez. It was a horrifying thing to witness, and even more horrifying for Bradley.
“It was unfortunate, that’s for sure,” Bradley said. “It took me a while to recover from it fully and get back to where I was.”
Bradley didn’t return to the mound until three weeks later. During those three weeks, Bradley took time to heal up, and he also took time to study some of the great pitchers in the Majors, like then-Dodger, now Diamondback Zack Greinke and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
“The big time guys I tried to watch, and if there was anything I could pick up, I would try to,” Bradley said. “(I’d) write it down, or try to remember it and use it to help me.”
That extra study helped Bradley bounce back and get ready for the 2016 season, along with a brand new diet.
“I’m feeling great physically, probably the best I’ve felt,” Bradley said. “Re-tuned the diet this year, I did all my offseason stuff here. Our strength staff and training staff did an unbelievable job with us this offseason; it was outstanding. Stuff wise, I feel good. It’s tough to say because it’s bullpens. You can’t put too much into a (bull)pen, but I’d say I’m a lot further ahead now than I have been in years past.”
There’s been so much talk and hype surrounding Bradley, ever since the Diamondbacks selected him with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. As talented as he was coming out in the draft that year, Bradley had to pay his dues and work his way up to the Major Leagues, just like everyone else did, and he’s appreciative of that.
“This is my third Big League camp, but it’s the most relaxed I’ve been,” Bradley said. “I’ve shedded the expectations, (and) I’m not worried about what everyone else is saying, I’m just focused on what I need to do to get better. When we have the type of team coming into camp, that’s what the focus is on. It’s how can we get better as a team? How can we make the strides to make the playoffs? We’ve talked about it as a group. I remember playing the (St. Louis) Cardinals last year, (and) playing the (Texas) Rangers, and seeing those teams that made the playoffs, and looking at us as a squad, and (saying), ‘We’re not far off from that,’ and then we go get (Shelby) Miller, (and) we go get (Zack) Greinke, and it’s like, ‘We’re one of those teams now.’ For me, I just want to be a part of it.”
This spring should be fun for Bradley and the Diamondbacks, because there’s going to be a lot of position battles and spots to be won during Spring Training – one of them being that coveted fifth spot in the starting rotation.
Bradley doesn’t really want to dwell too much on that upcoming competition. All he wants to do is continue to work on himself to be the best asset he can for the Diamondbacks this season.
“I’m just trying to take care of myself,” Bradley said. “I’m trying to worry about the things I need to do. Obviously, my goal is to win the spot, (and) it’s to make this team, but those are the furthest things I’m trying to prove. I’m just trying to prove I’m a complete pitcher, and that I’ve got some of the other stuff that I’ve done in the past behind me, and I’m ready to step in, and contribute and help this team win.”
“I’m tired of the prospect stuff, I’m tired of when and if; I’m ready to be here,” Bradley said. “I’m ready to be a part of this team, and I think that’s the biggest thing I’m focused on is, even if it’s not right when the season starts, it’s going to be at some point in this season; obviously sooner than later.”
“I’m so far off of me, and I’m more focused on us,” Bradley said. “(I’m) trying to use ‘we,’ because that’s what this is: This is a team, this is us fighting for the playoffs, to make it to the World Series. I’m just going to worry about my individual stuff off the field, and then when we take the field, it’s about us as a group.”