Ray remains front-runner for fifth-starter spot

D-backs hurler has first subpar outing of spring, but club encouraged by overall progress

Ray remains front-runner for fifth-starter spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Robbie Ray had his first subpar outing of the spring Wednesday afternoon, but he still appears to be on track to claim the No. 5 spot in the D-backs' rotation.

Ray allowed four runs on five hits over four innings in a 10-6 win over the Giants.

"My command wasn't there today," Ray said. "I was pitching behind in counts, and whenever you do that, it's going to hurt you. I was kind of fighting myself today. I was just trying to do too much. Things weren't going well, and I just needed to back off a little bit instead of pressing the gas."

The biggest concern the team had with Ray during his time in the big leagues last year was his tendency to throw too many pitches and therefore not be able to go deep in games.

Ray on experience, advice

In his first few starts this spring, he showed better pitch efficiency, but on Wednesday, it took him 85 pitches to get through four innings.

"He's done better than that this spring," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "He's shown us he can do it. He just needs to locate early in the count and get ahead."

Hale said he will announce a fifth starter soon, but with only Zack Godley and Yoan Lopez left in camp, all signs point to Ray.

You've been warned

The D-backs and Giants benches were warned after Arizona outfielder Rickie Weeks Jr. was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning.

It was the second time Weeks had been hit, and he had some words for Giants right-hander Chris Heston while he walked to first.

"We just couldn't figure out," Hale said. "Weeks basically almost got hit three times. I didn't know if there was history, but he just said they pitch him in a lot. The warning thing is going to happen all the time. That's just the way MLB baseball is now. To try and stay away from things so umpires are going to quickly warn teams. It wasn't that way years ago, but we have to get used to it."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.