Suppan roughed up against D-backs
Veteran struggles, exits game after being hit with line drive
TUCSON, Ariz. -- For a pitcher, the recipe for good outing doesn't often include sandwiching a pair of walks around a single to load the bases in the first inning.
Or getting hit with a line drive back up the middle later on.
But that's what happened here Thursday to right-hander Jeff Suppan, who didn't have a good outing.
The two walks that he allowed in the first led to immediate problems for Suppan in what was his third start of the Cactus League season.
His day didn't get much better from there.
While his results didn't resemble an artist masterpiece, Suppan's outing wasn't one that seemed to trouble manager Ned Yost. He saw plenty he liked about it.
"He's working on commanding his balls -- moving them in and out, changing speeds," Yost said. "I thought he threw the ball well."
Finding that command is what outings like these are about. In that first inning, command was elusive for Suppan. He left a pitch out over the plate that Jeff Salazar laced into right-center to unload the bases.
Three runs crossed the plate.
"My intent was, basically, to crowd him a little bit and see what he was doing," said Suppan, a 32-year-old right-hander who has a spot in the Brewers rotation sewed up. "It kind of ran back to the middle, and he was just aggressive. And what was it, a triple or double?"
It was a double, which put the Brewers in a 3-0 hole.
Two innings later, Suppan ran into more trouble.
Chris Burke's solo homer fueled what turned into another three-run inning for the Diamondbacks, who broke a 3-3 tie.
And in the fourth, well, Suppan got knocked out of the ballgame -- literally -- when a ball banged off his shoulder for a base hit. His day was done.
"Normally, I would have been able to continue to pitch," Suppan said. "As of right now, there is no problem whatsoever."
But he was only back in the ballgame in the fourth to throw 10 more pitches anyway. He threw just a couple before he took the liner off his right shoulder. As a precaution, he said he planned to ice the shoulder Thursday night and have the trainers check it Friday and ice the shoulder again.
"I'm anticipating that everything is fine," he said, pointing to a welt. "I mean, he got me solid, but it's just like me getting hit in the leg the way I view it."
As for how he viewed his performance, Suppan didn't think it was the prettiest outing he could have crafted.
"Basically, I was really concentrating on location, and it wasn't very good." he said. "I fell behind, so I was having to come in with more strikes down the middle. But I felt fine."
If there's any good news to pull from this outing, it would be the latter.
Not that Suppan sounded overly concerned -- either about his outing or the ball he took off his right shoulder. Spring Training has more than two weeks left, which is plenty of time for him to round into form.
Suppan said he sees himself making progress in that regard, which is a much better way to judge him than nitpicking at his six-run, seven-hit outing in this exhibition game.
"Obviously, I would have liked to have gone longer, you know," Suppan said. "But it is what it is."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.