Bradley to start exhibition game vs. Team Australia

Bradley to start exhibition game vs. Team Australia

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Top prospect Archie Bradley will get the start against Team Australia in an exhibition game March 21 in Sydney.

"That's very exciting," Bradley said. "I'm still taking it in myself. I'm very pleased to be going; I think it's going to be a fun experience. Again, it's another learning experience, it's going to be my first road trip with these guys, and I'm going to just continue to learn from it, learn how to travel."

While that effectively means Bradley will not pitch in the two-game regular season series with the Dodgers on March 22-23, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said the move means that Bradley is still in the mix to be in the rotation when the D-backs re-start the regular season March 31 against the Giants.

"I think it's a great experience for him," Gibson said of Bradley getting the exhibition start. "Kind of give him the exposure. It's important for him to get that, to get into more elevated, high-leverage situations that he's got to deal with things and keep control over."

Bradley, 21, has been impressive in a pair of Cactus League starts tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

Ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Majors by, Bradley was expected to compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation when camp opened. However, the D-backs signed free agent Bronson Arroyo a few days after camp started, which seemed to end Bradley's chances.

Arroyo, though, has been sidelined for a week with a bulging disc in his back.

"He's still in the mix," Gibson said of Bradley. "We're kind of waiting to see where Arroyo works out, see how the whole dynamic of the starting staff will work out."

After not feeling great while playing long toss Saturday, Arroyo said that his back was better Sunday and he hoped to throw a bullpen session Wednesday and then be able to pitch in a game on March 14.

"I'll have three starts and then be ready for the season," Arroyo said. "I would have loved to have only missed one, but I can make up the difference maybe in some extra days of long toss and hopefully feel strong."

Any setback in that timetable could open the door for Bradley, Bo Schultz, or Randall Delgado to make the rotation.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.