SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Thatcher has been in baseball long enough to know how the business side of the game works.
So when the veteran learned Friday that the D-backs were on the verge of signing fellow left-handed reliever Oliver Perez to a two-year free-agent contract, the move -- one that puts Thatcher's future with the club into question -- didn't entirely catch him off guard.
"I mean, you hang around this game long enough, it's going to happen," Thatcher said. "It's obviously out of my control, so there's nothing I can do about it. Still hoping I make the team, I want to be here. I feel like I can be a valuable part of the bullpen, but if he makes the team better then all for it."
Acquired from the Padres at the Trade Deadline last year to be the club's left-handed specialist, Thatcher struggled in his first go with the D-backs, posting a 6.75 ERA and surrendering 12 hits and six walks in 9 1/3 innings as opponents accumulated a .429 on-base percentage against him. Moreover, in five of his 22 appearances, he failed to record an out.
So far this spring, Thatcher has worked 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run, while lefties are 2-for-5 against him with a walk, single and RBI double. The 32-year-old, who experienced plenty of success over parts of seven seasons with the Padres, said he feels good with how he has thrown the ball in camp, focusing more on his progressions than the results.
When and if the Perez signing becomes official, the ensuing dominos to fall could leave Thatcher as the odd man out in the D-backs bullpen. But as he has done throughout his career, the veteran won't back down from the adversity, insisting he'll battle no matter how the spring plays out.
"If every time something bad happens, you go run and hide from it, you're not going to be in this game long," Thatcher said. "I've always had to fight everywhere along the way. I've never felt comfortable, I've never felt that I can coast or that I deserve a spot. I feel like I've always earned my job, so this is nothing new.
"I knew I had some stuff to prove this spring after last year. I've had a good career, a good track record, just had some bumps in the road last year. It's all behind me and I'm looking forward to this year."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less