Proving you are still a major league-caliber pitcher is no simple task.
Just ask Tucson Sidewinder Mike Koplove. He has been working on it for several months.
The Arizona Diamondbacks removed him from their 40-man roster this spring, and he was instead invited to camp as a nonroster player.
“The only way I was going to win a job out of spring training was if I didn’t give up a run all spring training,” said Koplove, a right-handed reliever. “I had to be perfect.”
Koplove, who is 2-0 with a 3.51 ERA in 38 games with Tucson, could be traded within the next few days to a team that needs bullpen help. The 29-year-old has three years of major league experience and has been back and forth to the minors since making his major league debut in 2001.
“I haven’t looked that far ahead,” Koplove said of a possible trade. “Wherever I am next year, I want to be in a situation where I have a chance to win a job.”
The D’backs seemed to have run out of patience with Koplove last season. He appeared in 44 games and was 2-1 with a 5.07 ERA before they sent him back to Tucson for the remainder of the season.
For his career, he is 15-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 215 games. No one was more disappointed than Koplove that he was suddenly back in the minors.
“It started out frustrating for me,” he said. “It took me a couple of months into (this) season to put certain things aside and focus in one exactly what I had to do, which was pitching.”
Koplove knows his work is not complete.
“I have to make it so there is no way they can justify keeping me down here anymore,” he said.