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07.05.2019 04:05
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PEORIA [url=][/url] , Ariz. (AP) — Yusei Kikuchi felt the nerves Monday that would normally accompany taking the mound in front of tens of thousands of fans in a major ballpark, not the few thousand who showed up for a spring training game in the desert.“I’ve been pitching in Japan for the last nine years and I wanted to test what I was doing in Japan against major league hitters and I wanted to see how they reacted,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “So I was really kind of excited and also nervous about that.”Kikuchi made his debut for the Seattle Mariners throwing two innings against the Cincinnati Reds in a start that featured a little bit of everything, from moments of dominance to Kikuchi working out of a jam.The Mariners were pleased with what they saw.“He had a little nerves, no doubt about it, but fastball was really good, he was up to 95 (mph), the breaking pitches we know are outstanding. Thought he handled it really, really well,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s going to take a little time to get his routine. You saw him throwing outside the dugout before, there’s a few adjustments there, but really happy for him getting that first outing under his belt.”Kikuchi’s most notable at-bat was his lone strikeout [url=]David Wright Jersey[/url] , when he tied up Joey Votto on a deceptive 2-2 curveball that left the veteran slugger waving unsuccessfully. While Kikuchi has a fastball in the mid-90s, his breaking pitches and the ability to hide the ball in his windup add to the challenges of facing the lefty.“It’s spring training and I’m sure he’s tuning up his swing as well but to strike out someone the caliber of Joey Votto, a hitter of that caliber, I’m really happy about the result of today,” Kikuchi said.The rest of the outing forced Kikuchi to do a little bit of everything. He had to scamper off the mound to cover first base on a groundout by Yasiel Puig. He faced the challenge of traffic on the bases after a rough second inning that featured a leadoff walk, two errors and giving up two runs — although both were unearned.Kikuchi threw 29 pitches with 19 strikes, the first step in a transitional season.“Obviously, when you’re up on the mound you want to shut them down one, two, three when you’re up there but after I let some guys on today I think I was able to keep my pitch count low and get some double play balls so I’m happy with what I did,” Kikuchi said.One of the biggest adjustments will be Kikuchi’s pregame routine. Servais noted Kikuchi was on the field nearly an hour before first pitch and still figuring out the timing led to Kikuchi playing catch in front of the dugout several minutes before the team took the field.“What we wanted to do is let him go through his normal routine,” Servais said. “He was out here probably 50 [url=][/url] , 55 minutes before the game started. That’s what he normally does and over time, that’s why we’ve got the four, five outings through spring to tighten up that routine and as the season goes on it will be a learning curve for him as well.”The first outing for Kikuchi was documented from all angles by Asian photographers following his every move, from his warmup in the bullpen to the scrum after his outing with dozens of reporters.Seattle wants to limit Kikuchi’s innings during the regular season and make the first-year transition from pitching in Japan less arduous. But the Mariners also need to build up Kikuchi so he is ready to take on a starter’s load when his innings won’t be limited.Kikuchi said he hadn’t been told what comes next, but he’s likely to get his second start sometime this weekend.“It’s my first start and I felt really good throwing the ball. Going into the game I was a little nervous, obviously, but it ended up well,” Kikuchi said. Welcome to March, a month in which meaningful baseball games will be played!")Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesFour weeks from today, the Diamondbacks will have their Opening Day contest against the Dodgers in LA out of the way and in the books. The regular season will have begun, and we’ll know for certain whether the team is on its way to triumph or disaster. Okay, maybe not quite the latter [url=]Mookie Wilson Jersey[/url] , but I’m sure the rush to judgment will be swift. This is definitely going to be a year of transition for the Diamondbacks. Less than half the D-backs on the 40-man roster at the start of spring training are carried over from the same point last year: just nineteen. That’s a sharp drop from the 30 who remained from 2017 through 2018, and also below the 24 and 22 returnees in the previous two season. Marte back in center today. Interestingly, his early appearances at the infield were design, according to Torey Lovullo. He said they got tips from the Mariners, who did a similar thing with Dee Gordon, and they suggested letting Marte start at a known position initially. Said the D-backs’ manager, “I think all good infielders want to know they have the infield under control before they transition out. That’s what Ketel decided he wanted to do 鈥?early in spring training. We’re following it through his eyes. We want to make sure he’s comfortable.” I can see the sense in this; I’d imagine most of the work is done out of games, considering the average MLB centerfielder made less than 21鈦? putouts per game last season. For most of us, this will be the first chance we get to see the 2019 version of the Arizona Diamondbacks, because it’s the first new game of the year on Fox Sports Arizona. Maybe your boss will head out early, since it’s Friday. :)

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