03/09/2013 7:23 PM ET
D-backs rookies get high praise for cheer routine
By AJ Cassavell / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- With a horde of veterans and coaches waiting eagerly, the nine D-backs spring rookies left the clubhouse at Salt River Fields on Saturday morning.
They weren't the only ones entering the practice facilities wearing red, though. Flanking them on either side as they lined up for a routine was the Chaparral High School cheerleading squad.
As a fun bit of Spring Training hazing, the D-backs' rookies were sent to Chaparral for two hours on Thursday to learn a few cheers. They performed for the rest of the club and a few onlookers Saturday morning -- and drew high praise.
"They were so into it," said Chaparral High coach Shelley Singer. "They were willing to learn everything. Some of them were like, 'Hey, slow down, stop, I want to learn.'"
It must be that perfectionist mentality required to play baseball at the highest level.
The D-backs' cheer squad was made up of David Holmberg, Nick Ahmed, Ed Easley, Tuffy Gosewisch, Alfredo Marte, Chase Anderson, Chris Owings, Matt Davidson, first-year assistant trainer Ryan DiPanfilo and about 20 varsity cheerleaders.
"I thought they would be a lot more embarrassed than they were," Singer's daughter Madison, a member of the squad, said. "They actually were super outgoing about it, and were having fun with us and joking around. I would have never expected them to be so into dance and cheer."
Closer J.J. Putz hatched the idea, and right-hander Charles Brewer placed the call to his alma mater. Eventually Putz got in contact with Singer, who told the girls they'd have a surprise waiting for them at practice on Thursday.
"I thought maybe it would be a choreographer for a new routine or the news," Madison said. "But when they all walked in we had no idea what was going to happen."
The girls taught the rookies two routines: Swing It Up -- a Chaparral classic -- and Gangnam Style -- during which the players each did their own dance front and center in the group.
"At first it was like, 'I can't do this.' But after we all kind of loosened up a little bit, it was actually kind of fun," Anderson said. "With all the guys, it kind of built a little team chemistry and helped us get out of our comfort zones."
Getting out of their comfort zones has been a theme this spring for manager Kirk Gibson, who wants his players to challenge their self-perceived limits.
The girls seemed most impressed with Owings, even though he botched the finale by falling at the final lift.
Both Anderson and Easley gave the team title to Ahmed, who started the cheers and led the group from the center.
"A few of us looked back, and he was doing the whole routine already by the time we had learned just the first two steps," Easley said of Thursday's session. "He's a natural."
Though none of the D-backs rookies impressed enough to make the squad, which took home national titles in 2009 and '10, Singer said they certainly made an impression on her girls.
"It was a blast," Singer said. "The girls were so excited, and I think it was great for both. They both kind of learned something from each other."
McCarthy 'kind of off' in third spring start
PHOENIX -- D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy was honest in describing his first poor start of the spring on Saturday.
"That wouldn't be an acceptable outing during the regular season," McCarthy said following the D-backs' 11-9 win over the White Sox. "Getting through that [four-run] second inning, I have to make a lot better pitches there to do it."
Of course, it's not the regular season, and McCarthy was quick to point that out, adding that his three-inning outing still had plenty of merit because he built up his pitch count and stamina.
McCarthy's second inning began with a string of three consecutive White Sox hits. Later in the frame, Josh Bell tacked on the exclamation point by roping a homer to right, making it 4-3 White Sox. In total, McCarthy surrendered seven hits, most of which were hit hard.
"I just was kind of off," McCarthy said. "It was taking me longer to make the adjustments I was trying to make than I would have liked. It was just kind of one of those days. If it was the regular season, there's some things I might have done differently."
Overall, McCarthy was pleased with his changeup, but felt the other pitches were lacking.
"He didn't seem to have his command," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He has had command with all his pitches [until Saturday]. The one to Bell, he tried to come in and it just kind of ran back out over. Prior games, he was a lot sharper than that."
Rainout doesn't screw up D-backs' pitching plans
PHOENIX -- The D-backs may have only played 2 2/3 innings on Friday, but the rain didn't alter the plans manager Kirk Gibson has for his pitching staff this spring.
He'll throw ace Ian Kennedy, closer J.J. Putz and knuckleballer Josh Booty in a "B" game Sunday morning against San Francisco, which will essentially give Gibson those extra innings to get his pitchers their appropriate work.
As for Randall Delgado, a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Gibson said he was impressed with the 1 2/3 innings the right-hander threw on Friday, but he wished he could have used Delgado a little longer. Gibson is hopeful Delgado can stay on schedule and throw four innings in his next start, though Delgado would likely need to be more efficient in his pitch count to get there.
"We'll try to keep him going," Gibson said. "He's had two in a row where he hasn't been stretched out. We try to keep these guys stretched out. That's where the 'B' games start coming into play."
Delgado didn't seem too concerned with missing out on 1 1/3 innings of work on Friday. He noted that the extended spring due to the World Baseball Classic lessens the setback.
"Even with the weather, I felt good," Delgado said. "It was a little bit wet, but I feel good with my arm and what I got in."