It was bad news when we learned Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson was going to be lost for most of the season. Since then, just about every other story coming out of Spring Training has been positive – and those positive notes continued to play out in today’s Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Former first-round draft pick Jamey Wright has pitched for nine different teams in both leagues over his twenty year career. He’s double-dipped with several teams, including the Dodgers in 2012 and again in 2014, but he didn’t pitch for anyone last season after he failed to make the Texas Rangers out of Spring Training. During the offseason he threw with Clayton Kershaw, and both he and Kershaw agreed there’s still some gas left in the ol’ tank. So Wright is back and attempting to triple-dip with the Dodgers in 2016.
Manager Dave Roberts sent Wright to the mound in the fifth inning of today’s game, and his return to the diamond did not disappoint. He sawed off the bat of the first Diamondback he faced, inducing a short fly out to center field. He struck out the second batter he faced, and to close out a perfect inning, he got a roller to short, which was quickly converted into the third out. Three up, three down. No runs, no hits, and no walks.
The next inning saw the much-anticipated (at least by me) debut of young Jose De Leon. In his three seasons in the minor leagues the kid from Puerto Rico has established an astonishing 12.3 strike outs per nine innings and a 1.19 WHIP.
The Diamondbacks reminded us all the kid was human when the first batter he faced rocked him for a double. De Leon then advanced the runner to third when he threw the ball into center field on a botched pick off play. It was the second pick off error of the day for the Dodgers, as Chris Hatcher had done the same thing earlier.
So how did the kid react to a quick double, an error, and a man standing on third? He did nothing less than strike out the next three batters he faced. Rick Monday, in calling the game on the Dodgers’ mystery channel, commented that De Leon’s pitches had so much gas, the batters seemed to still be anticipating the arrival of the ball while it was hitting the catcher’s mitt.
Roberts sent De Leon out to the mound for the seventh inning and he once again gave up a hit to the first batter he faced. The second Diamondback struck out. De Leon then induced a grounder to short for a 6-4-3 double play to end his day.
Part of me wanted a third De Leon inning. I can’t wait to see the veteran and the kid on the mound again.
A personal note: I’m very happy to join the team here at ladodgersreport. I’m looking forward to a great season, and it will be my pleasure to cover it all for you out there. Go Blue!