The Diamondbacks acquired Zach Duke in a trade with the Pirates this winter with the intention of adding depth to their starting rotation. Arizona was thinking that the 27-year-old southpaw would do well with a change of scenery after finishing with a 5.72 ERA over 29 starts for the Bucs in 2010.
But things have been a bit rocky this spring.
Duke has allowed a whopping 18 hits and eight runs over his first eight innings of Cactus League play and he was forced from his Saturday evening appearance against the Rockies after taking a line drive off the back of his pitching hand.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic caught up with Duke on Sunday morning. He sounded optimistic about the injury being minor, though he offered no explanation for his recent struggles on the mound.
“I can move my fingers,” said Duke. “Obviously, there’s discomfort. But I feel pretty good about it. . . . They did some tests, some trainers’ tests where they pushed on my knuckles and everything. I didn’t have any sharp, shooting pains or anything.”
The D’Backs will likely scratch Duke from his next scheduled start as a precautionary measure. He should be healthy in about a week, but effectiveness may continue to escape him right on through Opening Day.
UPDATE: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Duke has two broken bones in his pitching hand and won’t throw a baseball for at least the next month.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.