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Schlereth joins D’backs camp

Citizen Staff Writer


Tucson Citizen

Former University of Arizona relief ace Daniel Schlereth has been waiting all his life to make a big league camp.

The first choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in last June’s draft is set to make his appearance with the big club when pitchers and catchers report for the first day of spring training on Saturday.

“Everything can get big if you are not experienced at this level, but I am going to grab the bull by the horns and let it ride,” Schlereth said.

The left-hander, considered a prospect who could advance quickly, might not make the opening day roster, but could be in the D’backs bullpen before long.

That was the feeling before he suffered a strained throwing muscle at the Wildcats’ super-regional against Miami a year ago. The injury prevented him from throwing against the Hurricanes.

Schlereth, after several weeks of rest, ended up throwing 12 innings in two minor league stints at rookie and Class A levels after signing for a bonus of about $1.35 million, according to The Arizona Republic.

There was no sign of fatigue or ineffectiveness, as he struck out 20 and allowed just two earned runs

“It was a good experience, but the game is always going to be the same, the mound and the distance to home plate is the same,” Schlereth said. “There are more experienced hitters, but having wood bats helps a little.”

Schlereth knows a lot of eyes are going to be on him. The son of Mark Schlereth, the former NFL standout and current ESPN analyst, is accustomed to extra attention, and more scrutiny.

Schlereth’s approach has worked. He went 2-0 with a 1.81 ERA in 34 relief appearances last season for the Wildcats. He struck out 76 and walked 20.

“I just have to impress some people,” Schlereth said. “I expect a lot from myself, but there is no real pressure. I will stay focused on what I have to do like I did with (UA coach Andy Lopez). I have to focus on the little things.”

The major league draft’s 26th pick overall will join a camp filled with veteran pitchers Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Doug Davis, Tom Gordon and Jon Garland.

Getting a few tips from them will be sought, but he knows what really might serve him best in the long run.

“You do what got you this far,” Schlereth said. “They picked me that high for a reason. They know what I have been doing as far as my style of pitching and how I approach the game. I would like to think I have been doing it decently up to this point. I can always improve and get better.”

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