Lovullo to cautiously let pitchers begin batting

Lovullo to cautiously let pitchers begin batting

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- D-backs pitchers will hit in Cactus League games for the first time this spring beginning with Saturday's game against Team Netherlands.

Initially, the D-backs planned to start letting their pitchers bat Friday, but instead pushed it back a day.

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"There's a process we follow," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "It started about two weeks ago where they began in the batting cage with some flips and tee work and transitioned to regular BP and a lot of extra bunting. So we're ready to take the next step, but you always worry how the next step will go."

Lovullo most recently was the bench coach and interim manager for the Red Sox in the American League, so he's not used to having pitchers hit as often as they will in the National League without the designated hitter.

"What I've noticed is that our pitchers are very prepared as hitters," Lovullo said. "I'm pleasantly surprised. I'm an American League guy, where it's a crash course and half the guys are afraid of the ball. What I see today is our guys are ready for this challenge. It's a credit to them. I'm not as worried, because I've seen them prepare, but you still have a small worry that something could go wrong."

Getting started
Injured pitchers Jake Barrett (shoulder), Rubby De La Rosa (elbow) and Steve Hathaway (shoulder) are scheduled to throw their first bullpen sessions of the spring.

There is a possibility that Barrett, who was counted on to be part of the Opening Day bullpen, could be ready for the April 2 opener, but it is unlikely and the club does not want to rush him.

Thole injured on the bases

Don't blame yourself
Non-roster catcher Josh Thole felt his left hamstring pop Wednesday night while running between first and second base.

Turns out Thole was not supposed to play that night, but talked his way into the lineup as a way to get a few extra at-bats. Because he let him play, Lovullo felt partially responsible for the injury and Thole said Lovullo apologized to him.

"He felt bad about it," Thole said. "I said, 'This could have happened today, it could've happened tomorrow, it could've happened a month from now. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be.'"

Roster moves
After Friday's game, the D-backs made a trio of roster moves.

Infielders Jack Reinheimer and Ildemaro Vargas were optioned to Triple-A Reno, while infielder Domingo Leyba was optioned to Double-A Jackson.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.