TUCSON - After pitching in a Cactus League game Saturday for the first time in two weeks and just the third time this spring, Curt Schilling said he has one more objective to accomplish this spring.
Schilling allowed two homers, including a three-run shot by former Diamondback Greg Colbrunn in the sixth, and six runs in six innings as the D-Backs tied the Seattle Mariners 6-6 at Tucson Electric Park.
“Right now my curveball and my slider are better than they have ever been,” he said. “My command of my fastball and my (split-finger) are the things I'm missing — my bread-and-butter is not as consistent as I'd like it to be.
“It's very correctable. . . . I'm overthrowing (the fastball) a little bit too much in all the wrong counts. It's a spring-training problem I always have.”
Schilling's fastball topped out at 97 mph.
“I'm sure he wasn't pleased with the numbers,” manager Bob Brenly said, “but his stuff was good, the effort was good.”
Three of Schilling's first five outings this spring came in minor-league or “B” games as he attempted not to let division opponents face him. But Saturday he still faced mostly farmhands; only one of the position players in the Mariners’ starting lineup is expected to start Opening Day, and four of the eight are not on the team's 40-man roster.
Schilling met his goal of throwing 100 pitches, totalling 113, which will allow him to back off in his spring finale Wednesday in Tucson against the White Sox.
“It makes my last outing kind of a tune-up,” he said.
Brenly said the three-way fight for the final spot on the roster — backup infielder — is still too close to call among Chris Donnels, Carlos Baerga and Alex Cintron.
Donnels went 2-for-3 with a two-run double Saturday to raise his spring average to .560.|
“I can't remember the last time C.D. didn't hit the ball hard in an at-bat,” Brenly said.
Baerga went 0-for-1 but is still hitting .333. Cintron, who sat out a second straight day with an upset stomach, has hit .417 with a pair of home runs.
“All three of those guys have had tremendous springs,” Brenly said. “Now that there are no restrictions on (Craig Counsell), we're just going to let them keep battling it out. . . . They're definitely not making it easy on me, that's for sure.”
Arizona can keep Cintron (on option) and Donnels (who signed a Class AAA Tucson contract) in the organization if they don't make the team — but not Baerga, who can ask for his release. Donnels is the only one of the three who does not play in the middle infield, and Baerga has impressed Brenly since the beginning of camp.
“Alex is a guy that's definitely going to play in the major leagues,” Brenly said, “I'm not so sure that he wouldn't be better served playing every day in Tucson.”
The decision will have a ripple effect in the minors. Chad Tracy is expected to be Tucson's everyday third baseman, even if Donnels gets sent out, and if Cintron returns to the minors, prospect Tim Olson may be tried in an infield/outfield “super-utility” role.