By Greg Dillard
In front of a packed crowd at Scottsdale Stadium, the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants took to the field for the first Spring Training game of 2011.
While the D-backs were handed a 7-6 loss from the Giants, the full story of Friday’s ball game extends far beyond the box score.
Spring Training is always a time for pitchers to compete and prove themselves on the mound. The D-backs have several new faces fighting for spots this spring, and three of them toed the rubber in the team’s opening game.
Southpaw Wade Miley and newly acquired right-handed relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio all saw action against the Giants.
Miley — a young starting pitcher who isn’t in the mix for a bullpen spot but can use this Spring to make an impression on the coaching staff — took over on the mound for the D-backs in the bottom of the third.
One of the team’s most highly regarded prospects lived up to his hype in his first inning of work.
After walking the leadoff batter, Miley responded by inducing two groundouts and striking out Aaron Rowand to end an impressive inning.
“I felt good, a little nervous, a little amped up,” Miley said. “I felt fine pitching-wise, I thought everything was coming out great.”
Miley returned for a second inning of work, but had to battle a little bit. The left-hander issued a pair of walks to Andres Torres and Mark DeRosa.
“Just kind of got rushing a little bit,” he said, “a little too excited I guess.”
Other than the walks, Miley looked as good as advertised on the mound.
“I just got to get ahead of guys, finish guys,” Miley said. “I got 0-2 on a guy and then walked him on four pitches. I’ve got to stick with it and stay focused and pitch. I was so amped up, I wanted to blow it by somebody.”
Miley also said that while he was not completely happy with the outcome, it was good to get the first game out of the way.
Fans got a look at Hernandez in the bottom of the fifth. In his first outing in Sedona red, Hernandez looked sharp as he quickly got Pat Burrell to fly out to start the inning.
Hernandez walked Pablo Sandoval before rebounding and getting Aaron Rowand to fly to left field and striking out Travis Ishikawa to end the inning.
“Anytime you’re a reliever you don’t want to come in and walk batters,” Hernandez said. “The key for me today was trying to throw strikes. I threw enough of them. It was a fairly short inning so I can’t complain.”
Following Hernandez, it was Mickolio who entered the game in the bottom of the sixth.
Mickolio hit the first batter he faced, but quickly quelled any hopes of a Giants rally. The tall reliever then got Emmanuel Burris to hit a weak pop out to third base.
Mickolio ended his first spring outing with two groundouts, and ultimately, the new D-back was happy with what he accomplished in his debut.
“I felt a little anxious, first game back,” Mickolio said. “Everything was decent, had good life on my fastball and my sinker was moving. I just let a slider get ahead of me, hit him with it. Other than that, I felt alright. Overall, I think it went well.”
Friday’s game was the first of the spring season for the D-backs, and like many of his teammates, Mickolio enjoyed taking the mound and competing against another team.
“It kind of gets monotonous,” Mickolio said. “You don’t throw a few pitches to your own teammates because you don’t want to hit them or hurt them before the season. It’s a nice change to see another team up there and you can let it go.”
Images from the D-backs/Giants game from team photographer Jordan Megenhardt: