ST. LOUIS – Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly was not particularly sharp on the mound, but it was two plays that didn’t involve his pitching – one at the plate, the other in the field – that stood out in a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday evening.
In the top of the second, Kelly came to the plate with nobody out, the bases loaded and Cardinals right-hander Dakota Hudson struggling to command his pitches. Rather than making Hudson work, Kelly, who entered the night 0 for 29, swung at the first pitch and bounced into a force out.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo tried to take the blame but eventually admitted that Kelly missed a sign.
“The take sign was on, unfortunately, but it’s not his fault,” Lovullo said. “That’s my fault.”
Lovullo said he should have made a point to communicate that, in words, directly to Kelly before the at-bat.
This was news to Kelly, who spoke to reporters a few minutes after Lovullo did and said he was unaware he had missed a sign. He said none of the coaches said anything to him about it during the game. That doesn’t seem too unusual; coaches sometimes want their pitchers focusing on pitching and will deal with something like a missed sign later.
Setting aside the take sign, Kelly said he probably should have had a more patient approach in the situation.
Kelly also made a key mistake on a ground ball in the third that opened the door for Tyler O’Neill’s two-run homer, a shot that turned out to be the difference in the game. Kelly misplayed a squibber by Paul DeJong, a ball that started off foul before spinning back into fair territory down the first base line. Kelly said he wanted to pick up the ball and tag DeJong in one motion.
“I kind of got a little ahead of myself,” he said. “Whether it was me moving too fast or a combination of that and the ball spinning really fast, it just kind of flew out of my glove.”
Two batters later, O’Neill crushed a two-run homer on a poorly located cutter.
Lovullo said left fielder David Peralta, who is out with inflammation in the AC joint of his right shoulder, is scheduled to resume baseball activities on Monday.
“He still has two more days of just conditioning, letting things calm down and heal up a little bit,” Lovullo said on Saturday afternoon.
Lovullo wasn’t specific in terms of when the club might expect Peralta back in the lineup, but he seemed to suggest that if he needed a minor league rehab assignment it wouldn’t have to be a long one. Peralta last played on July 3.
“We’ll connect with David and see how he’s doing and what he needs,” Lovullo said. “There are certain guys who can (return without a rehab assignment). I’m sure David fits in that category, but we’re going to make sure we’re doing everything possible for him to be successful.”
Lovullo intimated that slugger Kevin Cron would see time at designated hitter on Tuesday and/or Wednesday during the upcoming two-game series in Texas. Cron started two game at DH in Toronto last month but mostly has been limited to pinch-hitting duties when he’s been on the big league roster.
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.