C Mathis paired with slump­ing starter

The Arizona Republic - - SPORTS - Nick Piecoro

CINCIN­NATI – Look­ing to get lefty Rob­bie Ray back on track, Di­a­mond­backs man­ager Torey Lovullo is fol­low­ing the blue­print he used with lefty Pa­trick Corbin: He’s match­ing up Ray with catcher Jeff Mathis.

Af­ter Corbin went through a rough stretch in June, Lovullo paired him with Mathis, and Lovullo be­lieves Corbin’s im­me­di­ate turn­around – he al­lowed a com­bined four runs over his next four starts – was no co­in­ci­dence.

Ray has en­dured his own stretch of in­con­sis­tency, and Lovullo fig­ures there’s no harm in see­ing if Mathis can have a sim­i­lar ef­fect.

“I just wanted to give him a dif­fer­ent look,” Lovullo said. “Jeff is a very ex­pe­ri­enced catcher that can make ad­just­ments on the fly. I feel like Rob­bie would ben­e­fit from hav­ing some­body else catching him and maybe add some new weapons or a new thought process to his equa­tion.”

Lovullo be­lieves Mathis helped Corbin uti­lize his fast­ball to both sides of the plate, work in his changeup more and go to his break­ing balls in bet­ter counts, par­tic­u­larly with two strikes.

As to what im­pact he can have on Ray, Mathis down­played it prior to Satur­day’s game.

“We (the catch­ers) all talk about and pre­pare for guys the same way,” Mathis said. “Both of the other guys are ca­pable of tak­ing care of him, as well. It hasn’t worked out where I’ve caught Rob­bie lately.”

Wild throws

Di­a­mond­backs pitch­ers have been charged with four er­rors in the past 2 1/2 weeks, the most re­cent com­ing when Clay Buch­holz threw a ball down the right-field line af­ter field­ing a bunt by the Reds’ Billy Hamil­ton in the sev­enth in­ning on Fri­day night.

De­spite that and other mis­takes – two by newly ac­quired re­liever Jake Diek­man, an­other by lefty T.J. McFar­land – Lovullo doesn’t see it as a ma­jor con­cern.

“We work at it, but I don’t think it’s a big is­sue,” Lovullo said. “There are small con­cerns and I want to make sure we don’t let that hap­pen. Those type of things don’t hap­pen a lot here, and we’ve got to make sure we ad­dress those.”

He doesn’t think the er­rors need to be ad­dressed by, say, ex­tra field­ing prac­tice, but more about mak­ing sure his pitch­ers are aware of the sit­u­a­tion. On Fri­day, for ex­am­ple, he thinks Buch­holz would have been bet­ter served by not throw­ing it and let­ting Hamil­ton take first.

“The parts of the equa­tion that both­ered me from the past are not back­ing up the bases and do­ing the things that a good team does for their team­mates,” Lovullo said. “Giv­ing up an ex­tra 90 feet or, in one case two runs on one play – I think that was prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit more dis­turb­ing to me than any­thing.”

That was a ref­er­ence to the play on Tues­day night against the Phillies, when right fielder Steven Souza Jr. picked up a ball down the right-field line and threw wildly to third, where no one was back­ing up the play.

Short hop

Lovullo said the Di­a­mond­backs are likely to stick with their cur­rent ros­ter com­po­si­tion rather than add a pure slug­ger to serve as the des­ig­nated hit­ter next week in Texas. He in­ti­mated that he might have first base­man Paul Gold­schmidt as the DH once, if not twice, which would essen­tially give him one or two half-days of work.

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