12/10/2003 4:26 PM ET
Randolph getting early start
Potential starter using Mexican League as spring tuneup
PHOENIX -- Stephen Randolph is headed to Hermosillo soon to pitch in the Mexican Winter League. The plan is to get his arm strengthened for Spring Training. But the trip could also strengthen his case for making the starting rotation.
"We're hoping he gets four or five starts," said Tommy Jones, the Diamondbacks' director of player development.
After spending eight years in the minor leagues mainly as a starter, Randolph made the Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster as a reliever and racked up 50 appearances, going 8-1 with a 4.05 ERA. He held opposing batters to a .226 average and was even tougher with runners on base (.192).
"It definitely was [an adjustment]," Randolph said. "At the beginning, everything was fine and it was kind of easy. It was kind of weird bouncing back and knowing exactly what days I can go out and get a guy out and give them an inning and still be OK the next day."
Arizona bullpen coach Mark Davis, who won the 1989 National League Cy Young Award as a reliever, aided in Randolph's transition to a reliever.
"He helped me from day one," Randolph said of Davis. "He was there every step of the way for me, helping me out."
With the trade of Curt Schilling and the loss of Miguel Batista to free agency, the Diamondbacks have at least two spots open in their rotation and Randolph figures to be a candidate.
That isn't the main reason he's headed to Mexico, though. The past two years, Randolph has pitched in Winter Ball and felt it allowed him to be ready to go as soon as camp opens rather than having to work himself into shape.
"I just love being fully ready come opening day of Spring Training," the 29-year-old said. "Then with my bullpen sessions I can focus on certain things and then be ready to go when the games start."
Randolph led the Pacific Coast League in wins when he went 15-7 with a 3.47 ERA for Triple-A Tucson in 2002.
"Hopefully it does throw that seed back in there that I can still start," Randolph said. "But I'll let that take care of itself. I love starting. I love to go out there and have a chance to throw a complete game and be in the middle of the battle. Relieving, I found out this year is just as exciting. Hey, I'm in the big leagues so starting or relieving, I'm going to do whatever they need from me."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com