Originally Published: March 25, 2018 10:27 p.m.
SCOTTSDALE — Saying he's not disappointed about being passed over as Arizona's opening day starter, Robbie Ray dominated a minor league game in his final spring training appearance on Sunday. And with that, he pronounced himself ready to build on his breakout 15-win season of a year ago.
Ray struck out 12 with no walks in 6 1-3 innings against Colorado players from the high Class A ranks. He allowed two runs on five hits, including a two-run homer. He threw 86 pitches.
Ray said his command was "really good."
"Obviously it's tough when you go and play guys (on the back field) to get the adrenalin going, the same atmosphere that you're going to encounter in a big league game," he said, "but it went really well."
When manager Torey Lovullo announced last week that Zack Greinke would not be ready to start on opening day, the obvious choice to replace him would've seemed to be Ray. Greinke was 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA and 215 strikeouts in 32 starts last season — Ray was 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 218 strikeouts, third-most in the National League, in 28 starts a year ago.
But after mulling the issue for several days, Lovullo finally announced Saturday that another lefty, Patrick Corbin, would start in the opener Thursday night against Colorado in Phoenix. Ray will slip into his usual role as No. 2 starter, going against the Rockies on Friday night.
"Any five of our guys are capable and deserving of an opening day start," Ray said, "after what every guy accomplished last year and what we did as a team, as a staff. I'm ecstatic for Pat. It's awesome. ... I'm not disappointed or anything, I'm just really excited to get the season going."
Ray did not start in the Diamondbacks' spring training finale on Sunday because they didn't want their pitcher going against the same team he will face — for real — on Friday. So he pitched in the minor league game on a backfield at the spring training complex that Arizona and Colorado share. The teams met in the NL wild-card game last year.
"Robbie's time is coming," Lovullo said before his pitching session. "He eventually will be an opening day starter. We feel strongly that he is that caliber of pitcher."
Mixing in his slider more often than he had done, he struck out the first six batters that he faced, throwing 19 strikes and two balls in the first two innings.
The 26-year-old left-hander is ready to build on his first All-Star season.
"I think the biggest thing for me," he said, "is limiting the walks said keeping the command where it was at today pretty much, just having a delivery that's repeatable and pounding the strike zone."
The Diamondbacks play exhibition games against Cleveland on Monday night and Tuesday afternoon before having Wednesday off in advance of the season opener against the Rockies.
Greinke would have been Arizona's opening day starter for the third straight year had he not felt tightness in his right groin during an outing last week. He left the game after an inning and the Diamondbacks have been extremely cautious since then.
Greinke is to start Monday night against the Indians and, if all goes well, he will make his regular season debut in the series finale against Colorado on Saturday.
The Diamondbacks assigned outfielder Yasmany Tomas to Triple-A Reno and designated catcher Chris Herrmann for assignment. Tomas "needs to go and work on his defense. It's adequate but it needs to improve to where he's an above-average defender," Lovullo said. ... The release of Herrmann means either that John Ryan Murphy will be the team's third catcher or, less likely, it will go with two at the position, Jeff Mathis and Alex Avila. ... Arizona selected left-handed reliever Jorge De La Rosa, a move that leaves one opening in the bullpen. ... OF Rey Fuentes has a fractured knuckle and will miss some time, Lovullo said. ... Diamondbacks slugger Paul Goldschmidt was hit in the helmet by a pitch in a minor league but wasn't hurt.