3/8/2014 8:22 P.M. ET
Bradley bonding with backstop Montero
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
TEMPE, Ariz. -- D-backs top prospect Archie Bradley and catcher Miguel Montero are becoming fast friends this spring, building a relationship that should pay dividends whenever the hard-throwing right-hander reaches the big leagues.
Bradley, who made his second Cactus League start Saturday, drove with Montero from the D-backs' training facility in Scottsdale to Tempe Diablo Park to face the Angels. On the way, the batterymates discussed the lineup they were about to face and how they wanted to attack it.
That experience alone made Bradley feel accepted, but then upon arriving at the stadium, he followed Montero onto the field, where the affable catcher introduced the youngster to Albert Pujols, a three-time MVP.
Not a bad way for a 21-year-old to spend a morning. Talking about it later on in the day, Bradley gushed about how helpful Montero has been to him.
"We're forming a bond," Bradley said. "Miggy has been super nice; he's taken me under his wing. The thing I like about him is he's very positive. Even when I throw a bad pitch, he tells me it was great. I know he's doing it for my confidence and I love it. To have a guy like that with eight years' experience and for him to be on my side, it's been really nice."
Montero is never one to be unfriendly to anyone, but with Bradley, the backstop sees something special. He loves Bradley's makeup, his fortitude and mostly, his eagerness to absorb as much information as he can.
"He's a good kid, he likes to be around and he always wants to learn, so I want to get to know him," Montero said. "Try to build a belief and trust between each other so he feels more secure on the mound. I already have a relationship where we want to talk and we can joke around. It's going to make him feel, when he gets the callup, like he belongs here."
As for his actual outing, Bradley again impressed Saturday, flaunting his nasty repertoire of a power fastball, big curve and an occasional changeup as he worked 3 1/3 innings, surrendering two hits and two walks while striking out three.
"What can you say? He looked great," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's just got explosive stuff."
One of Bradley's strikeouts came against the man he was starstruck meeting with before the game. After getting ahead 0-2 in the count, the righty froze Pujols in the first with a curveball for a called strike three. Then two innings later with runners on the corners and two outs, Bradley retired the Angels slugger again, this time inducing a grounder to short.
"I'm sitting there thinking, 'I'm facing a Hall of Fame guy right now,'" said Bradley, who threw 58 pitches Saturday. "The adrenaline definitely kicked in a whole lot more. But you have to bear down and make your pitches. I was glad I did that and I definitely learned a lot from it."
Bradley doesn't know yet when he'll see the mound again, but when he does, he hopes Montero will be in the lineup with him. He's excited to work with the veteran more, but there might be an ulterior motive there as well.
"He said I can drive his Ferrari before we leave here, so I'm holding him to that," Bradley said, smiling. "I hope my insurance will cover that."
Thatcher not worrying about future with D-backs
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Thatcher has been in baseball long enough to know how the business side of the game works.
So when the veteran learned Friday that the D-backs were on the verge of signing fellow left-handed reliever Oliver Perez to a two-year free-agent contract, the move -- one that puts Thatcher's future with the club into question -- didn't entirely catch him off guard.
"I mean, you hang around this game long enough, it's going to happen," Thatcher said. "It's obviously out of my control, so there's nothing I can do about it. Still hoping I make the team, I want to be here. I feel like I can be a valuable part of the bullpen, but if he makes the team better then all for it."
Acquired from the Padres at the Trade Deadline last year to be the club's left-handed specialist, Thatcher struggled in his first go with the D-backs, posting a 6.75 ERA and surrendering 12 hits and six walks in 9 1/3 innings as opponents accumulated a .429 on-base percentage against him. Moreover, in five of his 22 appearances, he failed to record an out.
So far this spring, Thatcher has worked 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run, while lefties are 2-for-5 against him with a walk, single and RBI double. The 32-year-old, who experienced plenty of success over parts of seven seasons with the Padres, said he feels good with how he has thrown the ball in camp, focusing more on his progressions than the results.
When and if the Perez signing becomes official, the ensuing dominos to fall could leave Thatcher as the odd man out in the D-backs bullpen. But as he has done throughout his career, the veteran won't back down from the adversity, insisting he'll battle no matter how the spring plays out.
"If every time something bad happens, you go run and hide from it, you're not going to be in this game long," Thatcher said. "I've always had to fight everywhere along the way. I've never felt comfortable, I've never felt that I can coast or that I deserve a spot. I feel like I've always earned my job, so this is nothing new.
"I knew I had some stuff to prove this spring after last year. I've had a good career, a good track record, just had some bumps in the road last year. It's all behind me and I'm looking forward to this year."
• After resting two days with stiffness in his legs, Paul Goldschmidt served as the D-backs' designated hitter Saturday against the Angels, batting 1-for-4 with an RBI double to center. Gibson said he expects the slugger to return to playing first base Sunday when the club hosts the Padres.
• Zeke Spruill was hit with a comebacker during his outing Saturday, but stayed in the game and finished the afternoon working 1 1/3 innings and allowing just one hit.
"He's fine," Gibson said. "He's a tough kid. He didn't even want to talk about it; he didn't want us out there."
• Although replay was available for Saturday's game, neither Gibson nor Angels manager Mike Scioscia challenged any plays.
• Sidelined from Cactus League action with a bulging disc, Bronson Arroyo played catch Saturday morning during team workouts. If his body responds well, he could soon throw a bullpen session.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.