BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – On Wednesday, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley threw more pitches (35) and strikes (21) against the Colorado Rockies in relief than starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa did (30 pitches, 19 strikes), and for that he picked up his first win of the spring, in the team’s 6-3 win.
Bradley looked very sharp in his two innings of work. He struck out two batters, walked one, gave up no hits and no runs.
The best part about Bradley’s time on the bump: It felt good to him to be back out doing what he loves.
“Definitely felt good,” Bradley said. “Felt good to get out there, felt good to throw to someone not wearing a Diamondbacks uniform, and just to compete. It’s what this is about, it’s about gaining ground as we get closer to the season, and (continuing) to improve.”
The man behind the plate on Wednesday was Welington Castillo, and thankfully he was there for Bradley, because they had something special going on in their first game together in the preseason.
“Yeah, that’s the first time I’ve thrown to him (Castillo), but we had a really good connection,” Bradley said. “I really liked the way we worked together, (with) the pitch selection we had, and just the way he catches the ball. He was in stride with what I was thinking, and we were able to put the ball where we wanted.”
As tough as it is to bounce back from being hit in the face by a baseball, Bradley’s done that, showing that he wouldn’t let the situation dictate the terms; he was going to be the dictator in that situation. He demonstrated that by coming back and starting four games after the incident, in addition to all the work he did in the offseason, and in camp, plus his appearance in Wednesday’s game.
“I’ve said this all spring, (and) I say it very hesitantly: I’m feeling really, really good right now,” Bradley said. “I think everything I did in the offseason is paying off. It’s one outing; you gotta take it with a grain of salt, but it’s a lot better to start that way than giving up a couple runs, or walking the house, so I’m very pleased with getting Spring (Training) started that way.”
The third batter Bradley faced on Wednesday was Carlos Gonzalez, the man who’s line drive last April put Bradley down and out for almost three weeks. Gonzalez flied out on one pitch to center fielder Evan Marzilli, and that was that.
As strange as that had to be for Bradley to see Gonzalez again, it was all business for him when he and Castillo worked to get him out.
“Easily,” Bradley said of looking past what happened with Gonzalez. “I had guys, after I came in (after) that first inning, (and were) like, ‘How was it facing Cargo (Carlos Gonzalez)?’ And I was like, ‘To be honest, I’m so far past that.’ I know I’ve talked about it a lot, (and) it’s been a question, and I’ve said some things about it. As far as being on the field between the lines, I’m over it. It’s about getting guys out. (It) doesn’t matter who’s up, who hit me, who I hit, whatever. It’s about competing and getting those guys out.”
“Everyone knows he (Gonzalez) didn’t do it on purpose,” Bradley said. “There’s no grudge there. It’s part of baseball. I’m past it, and moving forward.”
It’s going to be a dogfight for that fifth spot in the starting rotation. Robbie Ray, Zack Godley and others will take each and every start they get this spring to show manager Chip Hale that they deserve to be the man called up every fifth day during the regular season.
Bradley’s not sure if he’s going to be the man to win that job, and he doesn’t seem to be that concerned about it. Something else he’s not worried about is his confidence level. On Wednesday, he showed that his stuff is still good, and that he can dominate when he’s out on the mound.
It’s all due to Bradley believing in himself. That’s something he’ll never stop doing.
“My confidence level’s always high,” Bradley said. “I can give up six runs, or pitch six scoreless (innings), but my confidence is always high. I always believe in myself, and I always expect the most, and more than anyone else does, out of myself, so confidence is never an issue for me.”