Despaigne powers through in battle for rotation spot

Despaigne powers through in battle for rotation spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Spring Training coming down to the nitty-gritty, the fight for roster spots and slots in the starting rotation are narrowing.

Thursday's 3-3 tie between the D-backs' and Padres in a Cactus League game at Salt River Fields featured just another such tussle: San Diego right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne and Arizona righty Chase Anderson are both vying for slots in the back end of their respective rotations.

Despaigne has been battling all spring for the fifth spot with Brandon Morrow. Anderson, who was 9-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 21 starts last year for the D-backs, is still among the group hoping to grab one of the club's last two spots.

"They haven't said anything to me," Anderson said about his chances to land in the rotation. "They just told me to do the best I can. I'm just going to keep pitching. That's all you can do. It's going to come down to the wire, which I think is good for our team, our organization."

Both pitchers weren't particularly sharp on Thursday, although they both worked in and out of trouble into the sixth inning with the score tied, 1-1.

Yonder Alonso had three of the Padres' first six hits against Anderson, all of them singles. The lone early run for San Diego was scored on a Matt Kemp groundout during the third inning.

D-backs manager Chip Hale said that Anderson's contributions to last year's team would weigh almost as heavily as his three earned runs, four walks and 10 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings this spring. Anderson worked six innings on Thursday, allowing a run on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

"It's huge what he did. Everybody recognizes that," Hale said. "I feel like I'm in a meeting with all our staff, because there are people who have said that and feel that we should think about that, and we have. Guys do well, and if you get upgrades, you get upgrades. But he's done nothing to show me that he's not worthy to be one of our five. He's fighting hard for it, and we're watching and we're seeing it."

Similarly, Despaigne had a good year for the Padres in 2014, logging a 4-7 record and 3.36 ERA in 16 starts after he was brought up from the Minors on June 23. He threw five innings on Thursday, allowing a run on seven hits with two walks and four strikeouts. A.J. Pollock knocked in the only run against him on an infield single.

"The results were good, but I thought he was a little spotty with his command," Padres manager Bud Black said of Despaigne. "But I liked the high fastball to some of their power hitters. He battled."

Pollock had two singles and two RBIs, driving home Arizona's second run in the sixth with a single to right off reliever Kevin Quackenbush.

Padres first baseman Brett Wallace tied the game with a two-run homer to send it to extras.

Up Next: The Padres return to Peoria for a 7:05 p.m. ET game on Friday against the Rockies. James Shields, the likely Opening Day starter, will take the hill and will likely throw upwards of six innings. Shields was very good the last time out against the Cubs on Sunday, throwing five no-hit innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He made more use of his curveball in that outing, and he will attempt to work more from the stretch this time out.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.