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"We don't need no stinkin' stars." That's not an actual quote from anyone on the Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day Roster, but it sure does fit the group. There's an interesting mix here of young players who could turn into legit All-Stars along with a group of aging players who "play the right way".
The strategy is built on an understanding that this team, no matter what they did this offseason, wasn't going to be winning any pennants. Do you want to throw in more young players like Brandon Allen or do you go with the vets as part of a longer term plan to remake the culture of the team and give those young stars some adult supervision?
Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson obviously took the long view which is refreshing to see in today's sports media-fan environment that demands immediate success. In the end, they will be judged by the results but this year's results won't necessarily be measured in wins and losses. That comes later. Hopefully.
Here's how the roster breaks down (courtesy of AZ Snakepit):
If you count up those names you will notice there's only 24 on the list. Kirk Gibson was coy before today's final exhibition game against Club de Baseball Tigres de Quintana Roo.
With Stephen Drew still hampered by an abdominal strain he might opt for an extra infielder such as Tony Abreu who is reportedly on waiver. If he clears waivers the team could put him on the roster. Otherwise, they could either turn up another short stop from somewhere or just go with a Joe Paterson as the lefty in the pen. All will be answered in a few hours, please try and contain your anxiety.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 03/30/11 3:28 PM MST ]
And it's official, the 25-man Opening Day roster is set.
Tony Abreu cleared waivers but will start in AAA Reno along with Esmerling Vasquez and Brandon Allen. Joe Paterson will be the only lefty in the pen.
Gibby is confident that J.J. Putz is healthy and will be the closer on Friday in Colorado. He pitched well today (faced one batter) and his split-finger had good sink. The team is headed out of town this afternoon and will spend tomorrow working out in Denver before Opening Day on Friday.
If Stephen Drew can't go, Bloomquist or Roberts will play short. Needless to say, the team is a bit thin behind Drew with Abreu not impressing enough to make the roster and hot young prospect, Chris Owings still a few years away.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers wears his heart on his sleeve and shoots straight.
So when it came time to talk before Tuesday night's game about how the club might fare this season, there wasn't a whole lot of positive things to say. And judging by the number of times Towers rubbed his brow or bridge of his nose, he's probably had some stressful days and nights trying to figure out what, or rather how many things are wrong with his team.
The D-backs won their afternoon split-squad game Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, 15-8, in Mesa. But even that brought them to 12-25, tied for the worst winning percentage (.324) in the majors in spring training.
OK, brace yourselves D-backs fans.
Shortstop Stephen Drew had an MRI this afternoon and saw an abdominal specialist regarding the injury he's dealt with since the middle of this month. At least the news from that was promising -- Towers didn't think it would be anything serious, and it doesn't appear to be. Drew's MRI was negative and he has a lower abdominal strain, and his status is day-to-day, but depending on how he feels, he could still miss the start of the season.
Towers was asked if he had a Plan B; he said Tony Abreu is the best in-house candidate to play shortstop but that he doesn't want to divulge what he'll do if Drew is not available.
Towers said he'll be talking to players after Tuesday's game to let them know whether they made the major-league roster. Ryan Roberts continued his spring training tear, hitting a grand slam in the first inning against Los Sultanes de Monterey from the Mexican League.
Towers said he was disappointed in how the D-backs played in spring training. He was hoping for momentum over the last week of games but it didn't happen.
"When I was in San Diego we had bad springs and still performed well (in regular season)," Towers said. "We're going to know the first month of the season whether we contend or not.
"My hope is it's a club that is fundamentally sound, and that didn't work out this spring," Towers added.
Towers brought up the notion that players who aren't on board with what he and manager Kirk Gibson expect will be quickly replaced.
"I was impressed with the young players at the Double-A, Triple-A level," he said. "They're hungry to take these guys' jobs."
San Francisco and Colorado are the teams to beat in the NL West, Towers said. He also wouldn't commit to naming a starting left fielder even though Gerardo Parra was batting .338 this spring, not including what he did Tuesday.
Tuesday night was a dress rehearsal of sorts at Chase Field for the home opener that is still more than a week away. Roberts' homer was the biggest hit of the night, but not the farthest. Brandon Allen crushed a 3-1 pitch from Edwin Salas well over the yellow line in straightaway center to make it 5-0 in the third inning.
The Diamondbacks went on to win 11-4 as Justin Upton and Chris Young has two hits and two RBI apiece. The bullpen shut down Monterey over 3 2/3 innings until closer J.J. Putz allowed a ninth-inning run.
Barry Enright will start tomorrow afternoon's game against Los Tigres de Quintana Roo, also of Mexico.
At the stadium, the new LED lineup boards look good in green.
There was also some protesters outside one of the gates, calling for a boycott of the team and the All-Star Game in light of controversial SB 1070.
This had flashes of last season all over it. The starting pitcher, Daniel Hudson, was adequate, the offense came via the long ball, and the bullpen gave up the lead -- twice.
Here's the story as told by AZ Snakepit:
Daniel Hudson finished off his pre-season preparations in good shape this afternoon. After being lifted before he could get through three inning his last time out - albeit in part due to his defense - Hudson bounced back with 5.2 shutout innings against the Texas Rangers in the last game this spring for the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields. He allowed four hits and two walks, striking out four. His final Cactus League ERA of 3.18 is the best by any Arizona starter - among pitchers with ten-plus innings, it trails only David Hernandez (1.64) and Esmerling Vasquez (2.51).
However, Sam Demel and Juan Gutierrez coughed up our leads in the seventh and ninth, and Texas held on to run our pre-season record to 11-25.
After the game Kirk Gibson was asked about Gutierrez and what when wrong. His only response was that we should ask him. He was not a happy manager.
Here's Daniel Hudson talking about his day.
With a Major League-worst .314 winning percentage (11-24), the Arizona Diamondbacks are nearing the end of a Spring Training campaign to forget. It's not that winning in spring matters in the summer, but it's extremely difficult to look at this team with the same amount of hope that was present just a few weeks ago.
"It's what it is. It's disappointing," Kirk Gibson said, "I'm not really sure why it was that bad, but we didn't play well."
If the bloom is off the rose before Opening Day, that's usually not a good sign.
But hey, it's just Spring Training after all and as Kirk Gibson has repeatedly said, they've been asking guys to do a lot of things they aren't used to doing. A learning curve is to be expected to a certain degree. He's happy with some of the small things the team has improved on.
Armando Galarraga won the fifth spot in the rotation, pushing Aaron Heilman to the pen. Gibson said it was a close decision but Heilman's last start didn't help and he's comfortable that Heilman will be able to perform in that role based on his history.
Heilman was disappointed in the decision but felt he got a fair shot at the job. He does feel he's a bit pigeon-holed based on his past, but he's a pro.
Full audio of Heilman talking about the move: Heilman 032811
That makes the starting five for the D-backs: Kennedy, Hudson, Saunders, Enright and Galarraga.
In the pen, there's still no decision on keeping Joe Paterson as the lefty or going with righties Kam Mickolio or Esmerling Vasquez. J.J. Putz will pitch Tuesday and should be fine for Opening Day. He threw a bullpen session and his back had no further issues.
In the field, Geoff Blum will start the season on the DL. Ryan Roberts, Brandon Allen, and Tony Abreu are battling for two final spots.
Here's Gibby addressing the media before the final Spring Training home game at Salt River Fields.
The team has final Spring Training games Tuesday and Wednesday and will fly to Colorado on Wednesday evening so they can work out on Thursday in Denver before Open Day against the Rockies on Friday.
38-year-old veteran pitcher Mike Hampton retired Saturday, bringing a 16-year career in the major leagues to an end. The lefty played for six different teams after being drafted in the 1990 First-Year Player Draft by the Seattle Mariners. Most recently, he signed a minor-league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks last August .
Asked about his decision on Saturday, Hampton responded, "I just knew it was time. The fire is there and the passion will always be there, but physically it was just time to shut it down. My career as a whole has been a blessing and I really believe that baseball gave me everything I could ever want and need. I put my heart and soul into the game and it reward me very well for it. It is both a sad and joyous day because when you finally say you're done, it is tough at first. But as time goes on, I will be able to reminisce and think about it more positively."
The lefty leaves Major League Baseball with a career record of 148-115 and a 4.06 ERA in 419 games (355 starts). He experienced his best year in 1999 with the Houston Astros, when he led the league with 22 wins. Moving from the Astros to the New York Mets to the Colorado Rockies, Hampton started in at least 30 games for seven straight seasons from 1997-2003. The two-time All-Star has had health issues since then though, undergoing elbow surgery in 2005 and 2007 as well as rotary cuff surgery in 2009.
Hampton leaves baseball with several distinguished accomplishments. He won five consecutive NL Silver Slugger Awards from 1997-2003 and he became the first pitcher to win the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in the same season in 2003.
Don't look now, but the Arizona Diamondbacks are on fire! Thanks to a one-game winning streak they are now 10-20 for the Spring Training season and no longer have the fewest wins in the MLB. That honor goes to Barak Obama's nine-win White Sox.
On the home front, there's very little time left before the real games start. That means final roster decisions will be coming soon for Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers.
Gibson, perhaps still basking in the glow of yesterday's win over the Rangers, was in fine form before today's game with the A's. He seems much more comfortable at the podium in general, and was both funny and charming today -- two words you don't normally associate with Kirk Gibson.
Branyan For First Base
The leader in the club house for the first base job, would seem to be Mr. Russell "The Muscle" Branyan. Not only has Branyan delivered the offense (.457 AVG, 519 OBP, .783 SLG, 46 AB, 4 HR, 16 RBI) but he's been solid on defense as well. Gibby said he's worked hard on his fielding and specifically his foot work and has, "done well". As an added bonus, Gibson described him as a fun guy to be around.
What more could you want?
The team has until tomorrow to either sign him or he can walk. Given the Spring Training numbers he's put up, there's little doubt he could find a job elsewhere. Gibson and Towers are meeting later today or early tomorrow to finalize their decision. Just based on Gibby's smile while talking about him, I would be shocked if Russell is let go.
There's an increasing list of dings and what not:
Diamondbacks 9, Rangers 8: Texas Get Russell-ed By Branyan - AZ Snake Pit
I don't know if it's Kirk Gibson's doing, but you can't fault this team's comeback spirit. Having won after trailing by ten runs on Saturday, the Diamondbacks came back from seven runs behind this afternoon - though you could certainly make the argument that they should never have been there to begin with, since six of the seven runs were unearned.
Know Your Enemy: San Francisco Giants 2011 Preview - AZ Snake Pit
But can they do it again, and become the first repeat World Series champions for more than a decade?
Arizona Diamondbacks' Miguel Montero sets his sights on big goals
"He's enthusiastic, No. 1, and he brings a good attitude all the time," Gibson said. "Miggy always has energy." That probably will never change, but the affable Montero wants to be known for much more than his humor and charm. He wants to be considered among the game's better catchers.
Hudson may have tipped pitches in rough start | dbacks.com: News
"I threw some good pitches that they just kind of spit on," Hudson said. "They seemed to be right on the fastball, and then I threw some good changeups ahead in the count that they kind of spit on, so I might have been tipping [pitches] a bit."
D-backs ride designated hitter Russell Branyan in grand rally, victory | dbacks.com: News
Russell Branyan took another step toward winning the D-backs' first-base job.
Diamondbacks Sign Kip Wells: MLB Rumors - MLBTradeRumors.com
The Diamondbacks have signed Kip Wells to a minor league contract according to Baseball America's Matt Eddy. Wells had been with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 03/24/11 1:53 PM MST ]
Kip Wells signing has been officially confirmed by the team. He's been assigned to AAA Reno.
As you loyal baseball fans might have gathered by now, we are not covering the game-to-game Spring Training season of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In part because there's just too many games (but in larger part because only a small number of people are actually reading about the team. We will continue to get out to one or two games in person to keep up with the pulse of the team and by all means we will jump on anything that actually happens (outside the game results). For a much more daily and in-depth look at the team, bookmark AZ Snakepit.
In the meantime, here's a quick update on the team.
AZ Snakepit asks if it is time to worry about the 8-19 team:
Diamondbacks Spring Training: Is It *Now* Time For Concern? - AZ Snakepit
With less than two weeks now left before Opening Day, and Arizona in clear possession, by two games, of the worst spring-training record in the majors, it seems time to revisit the numbers, see where the D-backs stand in the rankings there, and whether people's opinions have changed
Speaking of more games, it's not an illusion:
Diamondbacks 4/3, Oakland 2/Cleveland 5: Arizona Working Hard - AZ Snakepit
It's certainly the case that we'll be playing more games. That's 27 to date, with ten to go, excluding the games against the Mexican teams - 15% more than the 32 we played in 2010. Putting my tin-foil hat on, I will claim, with absolutely no evidence, this was done to ensure attendance records were set at Salt River Fields in its opening year.
On the position-battle front, Enright's stock is surging while the Fight for First Base is turning...fun (?)
Enright spinning towards rotation spot | dbacks.com: News
"No question about it," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said when asked if Enright was putting together a strong case to win a spot. In five starts this spring he has yet to allow more than two runs in a game, the only D-backs starter that can say that.
Brandon Allen playing to be D-backs' first option | dbacks.com: News
Allen hasn't done a bad job on the field this spring either. Coming into Sunday's game, he was hitting .341 with five doubles, one homer and nine RBIs while battling Juan Miranda and Russell Branyan for playing time.
On the injury news channel, J.J. Putz hurt his back, Drew is back, and J-Up tripped on a random ball rolling around in right field.
Putz still sidelined; Drew returns to lineup | dbacks.com: News
The D-backs are still not sure when closer J.J. Putz will be able to return from the back stiffness that shut him down Friday, but the team did get a boost when shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the lineup on Sunday against the A's and third baseman Geoff Blum should be back in the next few days.
Arizona Diamondbacks' Justin Upton OK after hurting knee
With injuries popping up seemingly every week, the last thing the Diamondbacks wanted to see Sunday was star right fielder Justin Upton hurting his knee. But that's what happened in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics.
Upton ran toward foul territory to track down a ball hit by Eric Sogard when he slipped and jammed his right knee. Relax. It doesn't appear to be serious. Just for precaution, though, Upton left the game immediately.
The Arizona Diamondbacks faced a team with almost as many issues as they have Friday afternoon in Peoria, and one of those issues reared it's ugly head for the Seattle Mariners - the need for a capable closer.
Of course, the D-backs didn't go without some adversity of their own -- closer J.J. Putz couldn't make his scheduled appearance against his old team because of back spasms he felt while warming up. So Kam Mickolio, another pitcher who was once property of the Mariners organization, came on in the ninth and loaded the bases. But he escaped unscathed as Arizona won 8-5.
The Diamondbacks trailed 3-1 after home runs by Luis Rodriguez and Milton Bradley, but took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning on RBI hits by Kelly Johnson and Willie (another former Mariner) Bloomquist. The Mariners tied it at 4 in the bottom of the inning and went ahead 5-4 when Micah Owings appeared to have gotten out of a jam, but sub second baseman Zach Walters couldn't complete a 6-4-3 double play when he threw high to first base. That allowed a run to score in the bottom of the eighth.
So all the Mariners had to do was hand the ball to de facto closer Brandon League and send their fans home happy. Except League, a guy bound for a spot as a late inning reliever but forced to be a closer in the absence of the injured David Aardsma, couldn't get any Diamondbacks out until it was too late.
For D-backs fans, four runs on three walks, an error, a wild pitch, a hit and a sac fly from mostly roster hopefuls and reserves were cooler than the guy who walked the aisle looking like Ric "Wooooo!!!" Flair. You had to be at Peoria Stadium to see it. Blond hair, tanned and bare chest... a dead ringer.
This is starting to not be funny anymore. Ninth-straight loss for the Diamondbacks to sink their Spring Training record to 5-18. Not exactly the turnaround we were hoping for from Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers, but hey all will be forgotten if they play well in April when it matters.
The best news of the day was another strong outing from Aaron Heilman who continues to make a strong case to get a job in the starting rotation. He's the first D-backs pitcher to throw five innings this spring.
D-backs face the Mariners in Peoria today at 1:10 p.m.
Pitching Probables: RHP Daniel Hudson, RHP Juan Gutierrez, RHP Esmerling Vasquez, RHP Micah Owings
Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 6: Vict... Oops. Never mind... - AZ Snakepit
[...]after seven frames, they were clinging to a 4-2 lead. Enter Rafael Rodriguez, who had clearly been taking lessons from the J.J. Putz school of pre-season preparation. He allowed four hits, two home runs and four runs before retiring a batter, condemning the Diamondbacks to their ninth defeat in a row. Arizona's Cactus League record is 5-18.
SnakePit Statistics 1.0.3: Fielding and Miscellaneous - AZ Snakepit
In previous installments, we've covered hitting and pitching statistics. We finish off the series by taking a look at fielding numbers, and also other stats that are often used to show player performance - in particular, WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
Heilman making his case for rotation | dbacks.com: News
Aaron Heilman became the first Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher to go five innings Thursday against the Dodgers. The right-hander, who is bidding for a spot in the rotation after spending the past five seasons as a reliever, allowed two runs on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three.
Arizona Diamondbacks have plenty of jobs undecided
"At this point, I would say there are a lot of things to be determined," Gibson said Thursday before his team lost its ninth consecutive game, this time to the Dodgers.
Arizona Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra making 'more than a push' for outfield job
When you ask around Diamondbacks camp about what people have seen this spring from outfielder Gerardo Parra, the superlatives flow. "Amazing," second baseman Kelly Johnson said. "I think he's getting easier power now," right fielder Justin Upton said.
Ian Kennedy has been named the Opening Day starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks. By tradition, and in this case default, that makes him the "Ace" of the staff. On the other end of the game, J.J. Putz has been brought into town to close out games and provide a solid anchor for a bullpen that was historically bad last season.
Today's spring training performance by both guys hopefully isn't an indication of things to come.
Kennedy started the game with a quick and clean first inning, but gave up a lead off home run in the second followed by three singles. In the third inning he allowed a couple of more singles before being yanked. His line was three earned runs, eight hits, one walk, three and two thirds innings.
Kennedy said he was overthrowing his pitches and couldn't find his spots.
Putz started with two quick strikes and then fell apart. He said his arm felt fine and he was pleased that he was able to throw all his pitches and work on his arm stretch. He called it, "one of those days" and also said he was over-throwing a bit.
The D-backs closer went just one third of an inning, giving up two hits, three walks and four runs. He was "helped" along by the normally sure-handed center fielder Chris Young who miss played a ball in front of him. He attempted to slide into the catch but the ball bounced over his head and rolled to the wall for an inside the park home run (scored a single and an error).
The offense did come through with some fireworks, including a four-run fifth inning. Russell Branyan, Chris Young and Tony Abreu all singled ahead of Justin Upton's two-run blast.
Stephen Drew left the game after just one at-bat. He said he felt some discomfort in his mid-section after a throw across his body yesterday. He was lifted for precautionary reasons and is expected to be fine.
The D-backs fell to 5-16 for their spring training campaign with the 10-8 loss to the Angels.
Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson was in a chipper mood this morning as he addressed the media before his team took the field to face the Los Angeles Angels (formerly of Anaheim / California). Gibson talked about his goals for the running game and gave an update on a couple of his hurlers.
The Arizona Diamondback have yet to find any kind of stride in Spring Training this year. The team is 5-15 and holds the dubious honor of owning the lowest Spring Training winning percentage in all of Major League Baseball. We get it, this is just spring, but worst is still worst and skipper Kirk Gibson can only say that it doesn't matter so much.
"I'm not going to stand here and be negative. We're disappointed to lose games like we've been losing them. We'll leave it at that," Gibson said after Sunday's loss to the Cubs.
One area of concern continues to fielding with the D-backs racking up a league-worst 25 errors through the spring campaign. There are, however, some positive signs in those numbers.
The D-backs have player more games (20) then any other team so their errors per game number is "only" 1.25 which puts them at "only" 26th-worst in MLB. Making that news even "better" is two division rivals -- San Diego and Los Angeles -- have even more errors per game than Arizona.
Looking closer to home, the errors committed continue to mostly be from guys who won't be playing much come opening day. Three errors from Konrad Schmidt just isn't anything to be worried about (unless you are Mrs. Schmidt).
The notable exception to that is Geoff Blum, who leads the team with five E's (four at third, one at short). Blum won't be seeing much time at short this season and has been forced to play more third lately due to Melvin Mora's car injury. He should be back on Tuesday.
Duke dinged hard
One guy who won't be back soon is left-handed pitcher Zach Duke. Duke, you might recall, is battling with Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, and Aaron Heilman for a job on the pitching staff. Zach was hit by a line drive on Saturday versus the Rookies and won't be able to throw for four weeks. He's not expected to be ready to pitch again until mid-May.
"It was very sensitive in the area, but I'm kind of surprised that there's two broken bones in there," Duke said. "Can't change it, just gotta deal with it."
Duke had given up 18 hits and seven earned runs through eight innings pitched and has an ERA of 7.88.
The Diamondbacks announced a series of roster cuts that essentially shipped all the minor league guys back to the minor league. Notable names include Jarrod Parker, Wade Miley, and slugger Paul Goldschmidt. Here's the full run down:
The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today they have optioned right-handed pitchers Josh Collmenter and Kevin Mulvey, left-handed pitcher Zach Kroenke, catcher John Hester and outfielder Cole Gillespie to Triple-A Reno, left-handed pitcher Leyson Septimo to Double-A Mobile and right-handed pitcher Yonata Ortega to Single-A Advanced Visalia and reassigned right-handed pitchers Jarrod Parker and Daniel Stange, left-handed pitcher Wade Miley, infielders Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Owings and outfielders Collin Cowgill and A.J. Pollock to minor league camp, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.
The D-backs' now have 40 players in Major League camp, 32 on the 40-man roster and 8 non-roster players.
The Talking Schtick: Diamondbacks Pause, Gasping For Breath - AZ Snakepit
The shape of things to come? Here are the teams with the worst performance in spring, for each year since 2003. For each team, we've listed their pre-season record...
Who's up, who's down? Coming into spring, there were several questions to be addressed: the 1B/LF positions, two spots in the starting rotation, and the back end of the bullpen. How have the candidates faired?
SnakePit Statistics 1.0.2: Pitching - AZ Snakepit
In our previous installment, we took a look at the numbers which are the most important for hitters, and good ways to judge offensive performance. Now, we turn things around and examine pitching statistics. What do they mean? Which reflect true talent, and which are illusions, dependent on other factors?
Arizona Diamondbacks' Russell Branyan makes big case for roster spot
"I'm looking at our team, and you ask yourself, 'Is there a guy you'd like to have off your bench?' " Gibson said. "The closers in our division are right-handed. That would maybe lend well to a guy like Russell."
Arizona Diamondbacks' Tyler Skaggs looking to prove doubters wrong
He said this week he tries not to read the reports that say the Diamondbacks didn't get enough in the Haren deal, but in the same breath says he wants to justify the team's belief in him. "It's not a big deal to me," Skaggs said, "but I still want to go out and prove people wrong, to show people that I'm worth the trade."
You couldn't beat a night like Thursday for baseball weather, and Salt River Fields stadium is beautiful and so... new.
Safe to say that not one of the seven hits in three innings the White Sox got off Galarraga were soft hits. The Sox came out swinging.
With Galarraga's slider not working -- as he admitted after his outing -- he had to go to the fastball more, and the White Sox were ready. Chicago fielded a lineup of mainly starters. The two-run home run by Gordon Beckham, doubles by Alex Rios and Dallas McPherson and the triple by Alexei Ramirez were crushed and Chicago found the outfield gaps as balls got to the wall.
The White Sox did all their damage in the first three innings off Galarraga. The D-backs bullpen was solid, especially starting pitcher Barry Enright, who struck out three and gave up one hit in four solid innings.
Arizona is now 5-11 in spring training games and Galarraga (in photo below) has given up 7 earned runs in eight innings of work.
From the official release:
The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today they have optioned right-handed pitcher Juan Jaime to Single-A South Bend and assigned right-handed pitcher Matt Gorgen and outfielder Marc Krauss to Double-A Mobile, catcher Rossmel Perez to Single-A Advanced Visalia and infielder Andy Tracy, outfielder David Winfree and left-handed pitcher Clay Zavada to Triple-A Reno, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.
The D-backs' now have 54 players in Major League camp, including 15 non-roster players.
No real surprises here.
In an interesting bit of trade rumor news, the Arizona Diamondbacks are reportedly in talks with the Texas Rangers for third baseman Michael Young. According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Young might be unhappy with his role on the Rangers since they acquired Adrian Beltre who also plays third.
Young has a no-trade clause that would allow him to veto a trade to Arizona, but a source told Rosenthal that he would agree to a trade to the Snakes where he could step into a full time job at third. The deal is apparently stuck on the high price the Rangers are demanding in the deal.
Young, 34, is under contract for $16 million per year for the next three years which would make him the highest paid Diamondbacks player by far. Even if this deal doesn't happen, it is interesting and telling that GM Kevin Towers has the budget ability to go after a player with that kind of salary. The team is currently listed at about $48 million in team salary which is 28th in the league.
Young has a career .300 batting average and an OPS of .795. He's more of a doubles-hitter than a power guy, recording 36 two-baggers last season and 21 homers.
The Phillies and Cubs are also reportedly interested in Young, who could play second on those teams.
The Diamondbacks lost yesterday's Spring Training game to the Brewers in an 11-8 shoot out. AZ Snakepit has the full recap:
Diamondbacks 8, Brewers 11: Collin Sllams Millwaukee, We Stillll Llose - AZ Snakepit
After the largely attractive performance of Tuesday afternoon, there was a sharp regression in D-backs play today, in particular from the pitchers. Ian Kennedy had a poor outing, allowing five earned runs in three innings, and the bullpen wasn't a great deal better. They coughed up six more for Milwaukee the rest of the way, with several relief arms encountering their first earned runs of pre-season.
On the plus side, we had no problems teeing off on Randy Wolf, and did play error-free baseball.
The Arizona Diamonbacks are steadily climbing out of the Spring Training standings cellar and at 5-9 are now only 4.5 games back from the first place Giants. OK, go ahead and laugh at the absurdity of tracking Spring Training standings, but it's just what we do. We like to track things and keep score. That's why we love sports.
Speaking of tracking things, the D-backs have committed 20 errors, the most of any team in either the Cactus or Grapefruit Leagues. But before you freak out, it should be noted that the Diamondbacks have also played more games than any other team (14) and are ranked 18th in defensive efficiency rating. Even more important to note is that only five of those 20 errors were committed by guys that will see consistent time in the regular season.
Offensively, the D-backs are sixth in batting average (.296) and fourth in runs scored (69). The pitching overall is the problem with a team ERA of 5.22 which is 24th in the league.
"We'll be fine, but right now I'm just saying it's unacceptable," Gibson said after a recent game about the high number of errors. "Our team is going to have to pitch and defend. That's going to be our key."
So far the key isn't fitting into the lock but for now, we'll be patient.
The Diamondbacks are coming off their best win of the Spring Training season on Tuesday when they pummeled the Cleveland Indians 16-5. For a full recap of the game, visit AZ Snake Pit.
Diamondbacks 16, Indians 5: That's More Like It! - AZ Snakepit
In what was, by some way, the best collective performance since the start of spring training, the Arizona Diamondbacks blew away the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear this afternoon. Arizona pounded out 22 hits, and didn't even need the assistance of the wind, the box-score reporting it more as a gentle zephyr of 5 mph.
Your Arizona Diamondbacks played a couple of games over the weekend and managed to come away with the split which puts them at 3-8 for Spring Training so far.
In the first game on Saturday, Ryan Roberts continued his bid for a roster spot as he added the offense to Armando Galarraga's three innings of no-hit baseball in the 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
Full recap via AZ Snakepit:
Diamondbacks 3, Rangers 2: Ryan Roberts Rolls - Rangers Removed, Reeling - AZ Snakepit
.714. No, that's not quite adequate. Let's give this number the prominence it deserves. .714 Thank you. That's Ryan Roberts' spring batting average, after he went 2-for-2 today,. including a walk-off hit to score the game-winning run in the ninth inning. Yeah, it's only spring training, but still... After the jump, we'll review today's victory, in front of another good crowd at SRF@TS, which boosted our record to a slightly less discomforting 3-7. We'll also discuss what Roberts' surge might mean for the team.
Things turned south though on Sunday as Joe Saunders was rocked for four runs in the 7-2 loss to the Angels of Anaheim Los Angeles California.
Diamondbacks 2, Angels 7: Sunday Saunders Sux - AZ Snakepit
Joe Saunders did well enough in the first inning, after giving up a double to the first batter he faced, stranding that man at third. There was another hit to lead-off the second, but the three groundouts which followed took care of that. Then there was the third inning. Saunders gave up four runs without retiring anyone, jacking his spring ERA up to 15.88, having allowed thirteen hits and ten earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. Our prospective Opening Day starter has hardly looked like it so far.
The Diamondbacks are in Tucson today facing the Chicago White Sox in a game to benefit the victims of the tragic Tucson shootings. Veteran infielder Melvin Mora was reportedly involved in a car accident while driving to Tucson and is listed as day-to-day after his car was rear-ended on the freeway.
Diamondbacks Spring Training: Is It Time For Concern? - AZ Snakepit
The Diamondbacks enter today's split-squad games with a record of 3-8 in Cactus League play - the worst record of any National League team playing here. Should we be worried, or is it simply time to breathe into a paper-bag and, as pygalgia suggested yesterday, keep telling ourselves, "It's only spring training... It's only spring training..."? After the jump, we'll crunch the numbers from the first ten days, see if we can come to conclusions, and also look to see which players have made an impression - in either direction - during the early going.
D-backs and White Sox set for exhibition to benefit fund in remembrance of Christina Taylor Green | dbacks.com: News
The Arizona Diamondbacks and White Sox return to their old training grounds on Monday for a charity exhibition game at what is now called Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. The proceeds will benefit a fund set up in remembrance of that 9-year-old girl: Christina Taylor Green.
Gorgen needs Tommy John surgery | dbacks.com: News
When his elbow began bothering him early in camp, Matt Gorgen hoped for the best. Instead, the right-handed reliever got the news no pitcher wants to hear, when he was told on Friday that he would need Tommy John surgery.
Brandon Webb: No hard feelings toward Arizona Diamondbacks
In the visitors' clubhouse at Salt River Fields, Brandon Webb peeled off his Texas Rangers jersey on Saturday and held it up. Brandon Webb's time with Diamondbacks "This look weird or what?" he asked.
75 degrees and sunny with a light breeze blowing from left to right across the beautiful green grass. It was a fantastic day for baseball and the (officially) sellout crowd of 11,469 enjoyed the fine company of their fellow fans, and from the looks of things more than a few cold adult beverages.
Yes, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost to the San Diego Padres in a close 3-2 game but that mattered little to those in attendance -- at least those attending as spectators that is.
"It's disappointing when you lose. We've been in virtually every game so if we just tune things up a little bit we'll be fine. We didn't make any errors today, which I like," increasingly sun tanned manager Kirk Gibson gruffly explained.
In a familiar refrain, the Diamondback starting pitcher did his job well, only to see a reliever give up a big inning and the team strike out seven times, include three in the fourth inning after Xavier Nady hit a leadoff double.
For Ian Kennedy, the key to his three inning, four strikeout, no walks, no runs, two hit performance was timing.
"Physically, I felt good in my previous outing but I wasn't happy with my tempo. I was leaving too many balls over the plate. But this time I felt like my tempo was good. I tried slowing down. I worked on that this week in the bullpen. (Charles) Nagy said something, that maybe I was a little bit too excited the first time out so I made a note that the next time I was going to slow down. Today in my warmups I slowed down a lot," Kennedy said.
Juan Gutierrez was touched up for all three runs but his skipper insisted he looked better and has faith he will be fine after a few more tune-up outings. Gutierrez says he's still is having issues controlling his breaking pitches. Typical Spring Training stuff...hopefully.
A point of pride, emphasis, and tactical advantage to this year's team is holding runners. Gibby was pleased,
"(Catcher John) Hester threw a runner out. We held runners very well. It's much better, not where we want to be. They're trying to throw the ball over the plate and hold runners, it's something new. I thought they did a good job in that in all respects there."
Young Guy Report
Baseball America has 19-year-old short stop Chris Owings as the organization's sixth-ranked prospect. So far, he's caught the eye of his manager who called him a "good looking player" with a sly grin on his weathered face.
Gibson was impressed with Owings' savvy in the field and talked about the way he quickly catches the ball and applies the tag. Owings went 1-1 today and is 1-3 with a walk and two runs scored in his first two games (four at-bats). He reportedly has nice pop in his bat for an infielder.
It is completely unfair to take one blown Spring Training ninth inning lead by Diamondbacks reliever Brian Sweeney and make too much of it, but after last season that's just the way things are going to be for awhile. Forget that Sweeney isn't projected to throw a single pitch in a regular season save situation (let alone any other situation). All that matters is the Arizona Diamondbacks had a 4-3 lead in the ninth before giving up a three-run bomb to Padre Jesus Guzman.
It's going to take a lot of time and successful saves to wipe last season's bullpen catastrophe from our minds. Sorry, new D-backs team, that's the burden you bear.
There were bright spots (there usually are) and in this game they came in the form of four decent innings from young arms Dan Hudson and Jarrod Parker. Justin Upton continues to swing good wood and prospect Paul Goldschmidt has yet to slow down.
For a full recap of the game, as always visit AZ Snakepit for beautiful prose like this:
Diamondbacks 4, Padres 6: Well, That Sucked... - AZ Snakepit
After Paul "Solid" Goldschmidt came off the bench with two outs in the ninth, and gave the Diamondbacks the lead with a pinch-hit RBI double, it looked more than possible that Arizona might be about to pick up the victory in Peoria this afternoon.
However, such optimism had reckoned without the efforts of reliever Brian Sweeney. The jury may still be out on whether Jesus can hit a curve-ball - but the Padres' Jesus Guzman clearly had no problems with the 82 mph, belt-high slider Sweeney delivered, depositing it over the fence in right for a three-run, walk-off homer. The Diamondbacks record in Cactus League play is now 2-6.
The D-backs will get another crack at the Padres today at 1:10 p.m. at the friendly confines of the Stick, Talking. Here's your pitching probables:
Probables: RHP Ian Kennedy, LHP Mike Hampton, RHP Juan Gutierrez, RHP Daniel Stange, LHP Joe Paterson, LHP Leyson Septimo, RHP Yonata Ortega, LHP Jordan Norberto, RHP Josh Collmenter
We intend to be on the scene for today's game.
Your Arizona Diamondback played two games yesterday and at least managed to win one which pushed their spring training (meaningless) record to 2-6. Zach Duke got rocked in the second game (4-2 loss to the Giants) while Aaron Heilman continues to impress in the win (5-3 over Seattle).
AZ Snakepit has the full recap of both games and will certainly have the same after today's match with the San Diego Padres of Peoria. Here's the pitching probables for that one along with a full recap from yesterday:
Diamondbacks 5/2, Mariners 3/Giants 4 : Heil(man) To The Chief - AZ Snakepit
Tomorrow, the team finally moves outside the cozy confines of Scottsdale, heading over to Peoria for a game against the Padres. Schedule to pitch: Daniel Hudson, Jarrod Parker, Kam Mickolio, Esmerling Vasquez, Carlos Rosa, Brian Sweeney, David Hernandez.
Jim over at the 'Pit, also has a fine write up on the projected and possible roles in this year's (hopefully) revitalized bullpen. Take a read:
One of the things which will be sorted out over the next four weeks are the roles to be played by the Diamondbacks relief corps - and, hopefully, those roles won't be the "comic relief" ones played in 2010. Well, I'm sure opposing fans found them highly amusing - personally, I'd rather sit through an Adam Sandler/Robin Williams marathon. This year, I'm looking for something more like The Expendables, with a host of hard-nosed mofos coming out of the bullpen to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And if they're all out of bubblegum, that's entirely fine by me.
Duke’s line: 2 innings, 3 runs all earned, 7 hits, 1 walk.
The good news is that the D-backs are down only 3-2, but could have tied the score if not more had not Kelly Johnson tried to take second on an RBI single and got thrown out by shortstop Miguel Tejada, the cutoff man.
For the D-backs, the starting batting order is Drew, Mora, Johnson, Branyan, Young, Montero, Goldschmidt (DH), Parra and Gillespie. The Giants have Rowand, Sanchez, Huff, Tejada, Ross, DeRosa, Sandoval (DH) Schierholtz and Stewart.
Owings, however, struck out the side after giving up a single to start the inning. That should lower his 108.00 ERA he picked up after allowing 4 earned runs on 3 hits in 1/3 of an inning on Feb. 26.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are trying to make it two wins in a row and sweep a split-squad doubleheader after beating the Seattle Mariners 5-3 at Salt River Fields. They’re facing the world champion (ugh, I hate saying that about this team) San Francisco Giants tonight at Scottsdale Stadium.
Pretty good sized crowd in Old Town tonight, and a lot of big names in both lineups. The star after 1.5 innings is D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, who gathered in a throw from right fielder Gerardo Parra that was away from the baseline and swept his arm across home plate to tag out the Giants’ Freddy Sanchez trying to score from second base in the bottom of the first.
Parra made a decent throw but Montero turned what looked to be a sure run into an out.
Montero also has an RBI single in the top of the second off SF starter Jonathan "I’ve pitched a no-hitter before" Sanchez. Not tonight. Alas, the Diamondbacks just squandered a one-out, runners on second and third situation after the Montero RBI.
Zach Duke, a lefty, is the Arizona starting pitcher and he got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the first.
Funny moment already: D-backs 3B Melvin Mora pretended like he was going to catch a loose bat that slipped out of the Giants’ batter’s hands, getting under it like a pop fly. He wisely let it hit the ground.
Update: Duke couldn't escape trouble in the second. A slimmer Kung Pu Panda (Pablo Sandoval) led off the second with a single, took second on another hit and scored on Chris Stewart's deep triple that was crushed to left-center. Stewart scored on a sacrifice fly and the Giants have a 3-1 lead in the top of the third.
Breathe deep and remember it's still just spring training and none of these losses (four and counting) really matter. Except they would matter a lot nicer if they were wins instead of losses. The patience with this team with most fans is pretty low. They are going to have to prove the old fashion way that they are worth paying attention to. And while fighting hard and competing are nice to see for those who do show up, to get the rest of the band wagon even half-filled it's going to take W's.
Yesterday's action featured starter Joe Saunders giving up two runs in two innings and, wait for it, the bullpen giving up five more. Offensively, new guy Russell Branyan swung his big stick and hit a three-run bomb but his mates in the field also notched four errors. Four. Sigh.
For a much more comprehensive recap of this game, visit AZ Snakepit.
Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 7: And moving rapidly on... - AZ Snakepit
Going to keep this one brief, since... Well, let's just say it's rarely a sign of a good game when you have as many errors as runs scored. That was the way this afternoon in Arizona's first "away" contest since SRF@TS opened, taking place not far from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Actually, it was still taking place in Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, since the home team today were our stadium-mates from Colorado. I vaguely wonder what it'd be like if we continued this over into the regular season, sharing a park somewhere up near Four Corners...
And while you are there, be sure to read this fine explanation of advanced stats as they relate to hitting.
SnakePit Statistics 1.0.1: Hitting - AZ Snakepit
It was suggested, and it seems a good one, to have a primer for the most common statistics used, so that those just dipping their toes in the water will have some idea what's being talked about. Hence, this series of articles, which will cover the main numbers you'll see. In the first part, we look at hitting stats; the second will cover pitching ones; and the third will tidy up anything left over, such as fielding stats, WAR, and so on.
Today's action features a split squad, double header with the first game at home against Seattle at 1:10 p.m. and then a night game at Scottsdale Stadium versus the Giants. Here's your pitching probables:
Seattle Game Probables: RHP Aaron Heilman, RHP Sam Demel, LHP Joe Paterson, LHP Leyson Septimo, RHP Matt Gorgen, RHP Kevin Mulvey, RHP Rafael Rodriguez
Giants Game Probables: LHP Zach Duke, RHP Josh Collmenter, RHP Micah Owings, LHP Zach Kroenke, RHP David Hernandez, RHP Yonata Ortega, RHP Daniel Stange, LHP Jordan Norberto
Armando Galarraga is at least a name casual sports fans might recognize. He was that guy last season who was famously robbed of a perfect game thanks to a blown call on what should have been his 27th out. It was such a big deal that Galarraga partnered with the offending umpire, Jim Joyce, to co-author a book called, "Nobody's Perfect: Two Men, One Call, and a Game for Baseball History," which drops in June.
What does any of that have to do with Galarraga's debut as a Diamondbacks pitcher? Nothing, but it's still a really cool story and we will probably tell it a few hundred more times this year. Advance apologies issued, you've been warned.
Today Armando took the bump for the first time in his new Sedona Red Diamondback's uniform. He wasn't exactly perfect in his Spring Training start but being that it's Spring Training, he's not worried.
"I do feel good. I do feel good. I throw a lot of strike (21 strikes out of 30 total pitches). This is important for me right now. I was a little patient and a little too much not aggressive in the first inning, but I pick it up real quick so that's a good thing," Galarraga said after the game.
Overall, he was pleased despite giving up a leadoff single to Dexter Fowler who advance to third on a stolen base and error on the catch by the D-backs short stop, Geoff Blum. Fowler then scored off a wild pitch that Armando said slipped out of his hands. The next batter, Jonathan Herrera, tripled to right field and was knocked in a ground out by the third batter, Charlie Blackmon.
Blackmon's line drive whizzed by Galarraga's head and so of course, he instinctively reached for the ball with his bare hand. The ball grazed the outside of his finger and while he had it iced for precautionary reason's, it shouldn't be an issue. Still, not exactly the best decision to try and bare-hand a hard hit ball on your first start of Spring Training. But as they say, you can take the perfect game away from a guy, but you can't take the guy away for his search for perfection.
Galarraga threw a mix of fastballs and sliders. The slider was good in the first inning but great in the second, the pitcher said. In that inning after he had a chance to settle down, Galarraga induced two pop-ups, a groundball out, and gave up a hit.
His line for the game was three hits, one earned run, 30 pitches, 21 for strikes. Not horrible, but far from perfection.
Enright Is OK (Almost "alright", but we are saving that rhyme for the regular season)
Galarraga was followed by one of last year's shiny young arms, Barry Enright. Enright blasted on to the scene last season with 12 great starts where he didn't allow more than three earned runs in any game. But then his arm tired and his fastball lost some life and over his last five starts he gave up 23 earned runs in 25.2 innings of work. It wasn't pretty.
Enright is now locked in a death match for a spot on the starting rotation so each of these Spring Training starts should have a little extra meaning to him, but he claims they don't. He's just out there trying to do his thing, help the team, yadda, yadda.
Of course, it's easier saying that after throwing two innings and only giving up one hit and no walks.
Enright did fall behind two batters 3-0 in his first inning but in both cases he was able to work his way out of the jam. He said he was nibbling a bit too much. His second inning was much more direct -- he gave up a double but was much more aggressive in the zone.
The key focus for Barry this spring is to work on his changeup so he can throw that along with his two seam fast ball which is lively when he's right. He wants to be able to use both of those pitches to set up his slider. Last season he only threw the changeup 7.1 percent of the time compared to 14.6 for this slider, 12.4 for the curve and 65.9 for the fastball.
Enright is trying to trust the change-up more and throw it hard from the same arm slot as his fastball and not try and guide it in.
"When my changeup gets better, those are the outings I really throw well. I don't have to overexpose my slider. I can work off my fastball / changeup and throw those slider / curve balls later in counts. That's when I'm pretty efficient," Enright explained about his approach.
Rockies win, 5-4
The Diamondbacks lost the game to the Rockies thanks mostly to a poor seventh inning from relievers Esmerling Vasquez and Kam Mickolio who combined to give up three runs. Offensively, the D-backs didn't have any one star. Four guys drove in the four runs scored.
Young stud prospect Jarrod Parker saw his first action of the Cactus League after having his start pushed back due to hamstring soreness resulting from his Tommy John surgery. The site where they took some ligament from his leg to put in his elbow had bothered him a bit but it was only a minor set back.
The young gun showed both his great stuff and his youth as he walked three batters but still managed to get out of his one inning of work with no runs scored.
After striking out his first batter and getting another to ground out, Parker loaded up the bases in front of the always dangerous Troy Tulowitzki, but the kid with the "golden arm" managed to induce a fly ball to bail himself out.
For a much more thorough and entertaining recap of this game, visit AZ Snakepit.
It's always nice to win, no matter how much we claim these games don't matter. If you are going to play these exhibition games, you might was well get a "W", right? The Diamondbacks did that today thanks to a big eighth inning that propelled them to a 4-3 win over the World Champion San Francisco Giants.
Today's D-backs starters were both shaky as Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson combined to give up all three of the days runs in their first four innings of work. Kennedy was responsible for two thanks to a leadoff double and a walk that were driven in by a pair of singles. Hudson gave up a homer to Big Pablo Sandoval in the fourth.
Offensively, the Snakes saved all their striking power for the eight inning. AZ Snakepit has the call (along with a recap of the rest of the game):
It was the eighth inning which turned the game around for the Diamondbacks, plundering five hits and a walk off a pair of Giants relievers. Konrad Schmidt broke up the shutout with a lead-off home-run, and one out later, Ryan Roberts worked a walk.
Yesterday's hero, Paul Goldschmidt, came off the bench and delivered a key double down the left-field line, becoming the tying run in scoring position, and Juan Miranda dumped a single into right, tying the score at three. He came around to score, following a pair of singles from A.J. Pollock and Tony Abreu, scoring what proved to be the winning run for Arizona.
Goldschmidt is now 3-5 with two doubles and a home run. This three RBI and eight total bases lead the team through three games. He's on pace to record 783 (roughly estimated) RBI by Opening Day.
The D-backs are back at it with a home game against the Rockies at 1 p.m. on Monday.
The Arizona Diamondbacks opened up their new Spring Training home, the wordily-named Salt River Fields, with a 10 inning loss. The Snakes were down 7-2 going into the ninth inning before they tied the game off a three-run blast by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Arizona Diamondbacks are now 0-2 on the Spring Training season, not that anyone is counting.
Today's bright spots include the two scoreless innings for Aaron Heilman in the start and the nice bat work from leadoff man and second baseman, Kelly Johnson. Goldschmidt impressed as well with two hits and three RBI. The 2009 draft pick is considered a dark horse to win the open first base job and he certainly didn't hurt his chances today.
"When you get into the late innings of games, they're very impact innings. The at-bats are very critical and crucial. (Goldschmidt) comes up with a chance to tie the game. He was patient enough to get that pitch and disciplined enough to put a good swing on it. That's what we're looking for," Kirk Gibson said about the young prospect.
Goldschmidt said he had faced the pitcher, Adam Jorgenson, at least six times in the minor leagues and had seen all his pitches before. It was a good day for the young player but he's not going overboard with the results.
"It's just one (at-bat) and it's a long spring training so we'll see what happens," Goldschmidt said.
Kelly Johnson started things off well when he worked a solid walk out of Colorado Rockies ace, Umbaldo Jimenez. Then in the third inning Kelly hit a home run to left, which he admitted was aided by the wind. Johnson finished off his day with a single in the fifth inning.
"That's probably an ideal Spring Training at-bat is to see some pitches, foul them off, get a pitch where I felt pretty good about," Johnson said about his leadoff walk to open the game. "(Jimenez) is definitely more electric than about any pitcher in the game so you never know, but in Spring Training it's nice to see the ball and feel like you see it well."
Zach Duke followed Heilman but didn't have nearly the same success. Duke gave up five hits and an earned run in his two innings. His evaluation of the day was understandably mixed.
"The main thing for me is to get first pitch strikes and control the ball after that. I wasn't able to do that with a couple of hitters and that ended up hurting me, " Duke said.
The lefty did get himself out of what could have been a much worse showing as he induced two ground ball double-plays and also successfully picked a runner off in the third inning. The run he gave up came off a single to former D-back Carlos Gonzalez who drove in Seth Smith who had doubled to leadoff the fourth.
The guy mostly likely to want to forget this game is Micah Owings. Owings didn't have good stuff today and was tagged for four earned runs in just one-third of an inning of work. According to Gibson his ball was flat and he knows he needs to pitch better.
New Park, Very Scottsdale
My impressions of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick are positive. What's not to like about the nice, clean, open ball park. Personally, I prefer Scottsdale Stadium a bit more because it reflects more of an urban feel which is appropriate since it' the home of the San Francisco Giants. This park is typical Scottsdale. Very fancy, very new, very comfortable, good food, and very expansive so you don't have to get too close to other people who may or may not be in your income level.
The Diamondback fell 7-6 to the Giants but honestly, who cares about the score. It's all good in Snake country as they take their winless record into their home opener at Talking Stick Fields tomorrow versus the Colorado Rockies. Preseason is great isn't it? You just hang out, play some ball, don't worry about the score. It would be pretty awesome if the entire season worked this way.
Here's what did matter from this game: starting pitcher Joe Saunders and likely candidate to be named "staff ace" threw the ball well in the first inning. He mowed down the side with two fly balls and a strike out behind his good fast balls. Yes, he threw only fast balls in the first inning.
In the second inning however, Saunders got knocked around a tad. Four hits, four earned runs is only a "tad", right?
In this inning Joe mixed in some breaking balls and tried out his cutter that he's working on this season. He said he threw it three times, none for strikes. The pitches that got hit were the breaking balls that didn't break. It's all good though.
"For me, it's more about making sure my arm feels good, my arm is where it needs to be. That's first and foremost. Just excited to get out there, kind of get the early Spring Training jitters out. It was fun to go out there and compete," Saunders said in the clubhouse somewhere around the fifth inning while the game continued on.
Saunders now has an ERA of 21.60 during Spring Training.
Joe was followed in the rotation of starters by young Wade Miley who looks even younger in person than AZ Republic's fine beat writer, Nick Piecoro. Miley threw a solid first inning, with one walk and three ground outs. He gave up two runs somewhere in the next third of an inning by walking a couple of guys and turning the ball over to Zach Kroenke who gave up a hit that drove in Miley's runners.
Miley faced big-leaguers that he grew up watching for the first time and was understandably nervous and exited. He said it was, "awesome".
Offensively, the D-backs got a home run from one of their new guys, Xavier Nady, and rocked Tim Lincecum in the first inning for five hits and three runs. I doubt Lincecum is too concerned about that. It was a fun inning though, started by a Willie Bloomquist single and then a successful hit and run with Melvin Mora. That's something Gibby specifically talked about before the game when he praised Mora's ability to handle the bat.
Justin Upton when 2-3, with an RBI, a run, and a strike out and was caught stealing. Sounds about right for him.
Tomorrow's two "starting" pitchers will be Aaron Heilman and Zach Duke.
Did you know this team has two "Zach's" on it right now?
How does that "World Champion San Francisco Giants" phrase sit with you Diamondbacks fans? Used to it yet, or does it still rub you raw? Unfortunately, it's going to be around until October -- but that doesn't make having them on the schedule for the very first 2011 Spring Training game any easier.
The Diamondbacks and Giants kick things off today at 1 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium located in downtown Glendale, AZ. Kidding, it's in Scottsdale just down the street from all the swanky bars and clubs that the cool kids (and Matt Leinart) frequent.
Kirk Gibson has elected to throw Joe Saunders on the mound for this very first live pitch of 2011 while the Giants obviously went with a long-haired freak, Tim Lincecum. Wade Miley will take the mound after Saunders with each projected to go about two innings and throw roughly 30 pitches. From there, it's bullpen time.
The batting order is Willie Bloomquist (2B), Melvin Mora (3B), Justin Upton (RF), Miguel Montero (C), Xavier Nady (LF), Brandon Allen (1B), Wily Mo Pena (DH), Tony Abreu (S), Cole Gillespie (CF).
The Giants order is...well, who cares really, it's Spring Training.
A couple of note from Gibby's pregame media chat:
Name any other major-league baseball player who has played in the Olympic Games for the United States and for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
Go ahead. Try.
Ojeda, a Chandler resident after four seasons with the D-backs, continues to live the dream. He's 36, and his ride in the big leagues isn't over. Ojeda and Darwin Barney are battling for a spot on the Cubs' final roster as utility infielders.
Both are solid fielders. Whomever hits the best in spring training games might be the deciding factor for manager Mike Quade. But Ojeda knows the drill -- his career has often been about fighting uphill battles and roster spot competitions, and he keeps showing up at spring training and eventually finding his way to the 25-man roster.
"The best opportunity was coming back (to Chicago) and just playing in Wrigley Field," Ojeda said of his offseason options after the D-backs granted him free agency when the 2010 season was over. "They have fans everywhere. Everywhere they go, they draw. Playing at home every day for a packed house, the tradition and the hunger of winning because it hasn't been done in so long. I would like to be part of that and hopefully this year, we can do it."
Few could have imagined that Ojeda, somewhat small in stature but a giant at heart, would fashion a career out of scrappy, hustling, hard-nose baseball that kept him in demand from one year to the next. His career batting average is .234 and he's hit seven career home runs since 2000, when he made his major-league debut with the Cubs.
But it's the hard-nosed approach to the game that endeared Ojeda to Diamondbacks fans in recent years.
He described his playing style as "go out there and give 120 percent every day."
"Between the lines, play hard, and that's what the fans like," Ojeda said, "and that's why they pay a lot of money to go see major-league baseball. The bottom line is just play hard and play the game the right way, and they appreciate it."
Whoa, did he really say that? In today's cutthroat sports world of high salary demands and outrageous contracts, Ojeda, refreshingly, has the fans in mind.
Fifteen spring trainings, and every year that passes, another baseball buddy of Ojeda's retires and starts working in another field. But Ojeda isn't ready to give up living his dream.
"It's fun, I still enjoy it and I feel great," Ojeda said. "I've been blessed. I thank God every day. I wake up every day and I'm just excited to be here... not in my wildest dreams did I think I would be playing at this age. Hard work pays off. Keep striving at your goal and good things will happen."
There isn't one. This is the first Diamondbacks team with no super star since 1998 when they rolled out Devon White and a 23-year-old Travis Lee as the main attraction. From 1999 to 2004 it was Randy Johnson (along with plenty of others like Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez) and then from 2005 on it was Brandon Webb.
Even though Webb was injured last season, he was still the guy who had won a Cy Young and when paired with Dan Haren, gave the team a face.
This season with Webb trying to rebuild his career as a Texas Ranger, there are no super stars. There's no one or two guys that the media is going to flock to for answers and there's no single player to dominate the clubhouse.
According to veteran infielder Geoff Blum, 37, who's played on five teams in his 12 years in the majors, having star players can be a mixed blessing.
"If you get the super stars on the team and everybody focuses on those one or two guys and it kind of detracts from the rest of the club house and that makes it kind of interesting throughout the course of the season when you need all 25 guys plus during a 162-game schedule," Blum said.
One guy who could step into a starring role is center fielder Chris Young. But even Chris thinks that's stretch for him and also doesn't see any one guy being "The Man".
"The type of team we have, your not necessarily going to have that guy," Young said, "You're not going to have that one guy that everybody goes to for advise or that one guy that's going to stand up in the middle and tell everybody what they need to do."
Both Blum and Young did mention one name, however, and it wasn't a player.
Manager Kirk Gibson is as close as it comes to Diamondbacks' star power. He's the name everyone around baseball knows and respects for what he's done as a player. And while this is Gibby's first go as a major league manager, he and his highly experienced coaching staff have already earned the ear of the team.
"You look at our coaching staff, those guys carry a lot of weight. If they're going to be talking, we're going to be listening. Those guys have big league experience, World Series experience, All-Star experience. I mean they have some serious street cred that allows them to be able to speak their mind and have us listen," Blum said.
Young also was quick to mention Gibson's name when asked about team leadership, "I think with Kirk (Gibson) being here, he's doing a good job of trying to initiate more of a team attitude -- like a Diamondback Way so to speak -- to try and establish it that way as opposed to having two or three marquee guys that are going to try and carry us."
Maybe Justin Upton, who turns 24 in August, will step into that starring role. He's clearly the most talented player on the roster but he's a long way from being a super star or even a guy who can command the automatic respect from his teammates. In the meantime, Gibson and his coaching staff along with veterans like Blum, Melvin Mora, Henry Blanco and Mike Hampton will be carrying the leadership load.
The Arizona Diamondbacks manager, Kirk Gibson, announced his top eight starting pitchers and the order they would be throwing in the opening days of Spring Training. He expects each starter named to pitch about two innings and throw around 30 pitches.
It was known for some time now that there would be eight guys battling for the five spots in the rotation but Jarrod Parker was always on that list and has now surprisingly dropped off in favor of Wade Miley.
Parker, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2009, is listed as the organization's top prospect by most observers and just a week ago was called a "special pitcher" by GM Kevin Towers. There's no word yet on why Parker lost this opportunity to Miley and at this point, there's certainly nothing written in stone.
"I've stated previous that there's really no position set and I have an open mind right through to the end," Gibson said about his rotation.
Miley was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round (43rd) in 2008. He's a hard-throwing lefty who has several breaking pitches in addition to his mid-90's fast ball. In three years of minor league ball (292 innings, 58 games) he has an ERA of 3.41 and a WHIP of 1.367. In his most recent assignment with AA Mobile he had an ERA of just 1.98 in 13 starts.
The baseball web site Fangraphs lists him as the team's eighth-ranked prospect and say this about the 24-year-old:
His stuff has fluctuated wildly during his pro career, but he flashes above-average velocity for a left-hander and his heater occasionally hits the mid-90s but he sits more in the 89-93 mph range. He has a diverse repertoire, which includes a curveball, slider, changeup and cutter. Despite his good velocity, Miley does not strike out many batters - his K/9 rates sat at 5.60 in high-A and 7.80 in double-A last season. He also struggles with his command and control.
According to Gibson, hitters were impressed with Miley's stuff in live batting practice, asking, "who is this guy"?
As for Parker, Gibby said, "He may get in one of these games, I'm not saying that. I'm pretty much just (listing) the starters right now."
The ways the list was presented was with one starting pitcher followed by another starter who would enter the game after the first had thrown his two innings. Here's the order with Saunders and Miley kicking things off against the Giants on Friday.
1. Joe Saunders / Wade Miley
2. Aaron Heilman / Zach Duke
3. Ian Kennedy / Daniel Hudson
4. Armando Galarraga / Barry Enright
The pairings were made based on multiple factors including the split-squad games coming up on the schedule. Aaron Heilman and Zach Duke are second in the rotation so they can handle those opportunities to get extended innings.
Gibson also said that the second time through the order he could see flip-flopping Hudson and Galarraga and possibly Duke. These pairings will account for the first four innings of each Spring Training game which leaves the five following innings to each be handled by a different reliever.
"Everyone's feeling good, throwing the ball good. Time to get ready to go," Gibby said about his staff.
The Diamondbacks camp continues with pitchers throwing every other day and guys continuing to work on various other aspects of game when they are not throwing. Today, the pitchers took up positions in the infield and worked on various bunt plays. By standing in on the bases (and rotating around) they were able to get a full appreciation for how different plays work and what the timing needs to be.
After five days of camp now, guys are feeling sore which is to be expected according to Kirk Gibson. Tomorrow will be a light day for the pitchers with no throwing and of course that also gives the catchers a break as well.
The position players officially report tomorrow but many have been here for some time getting in their stretching, lifting and some hitting. With the formal arrival of the full team -- minus Russell Branyan who will be given an extra day to report because he is driving across the country -- the team's front office will address the team.
As Gibby has said repeatedly, he has no idea what the batting order, rotation or bull pen roles will look like and plans on using the Spring Training games to sort that out. His desire is to have those questions answered going into the season.
"I think in general, if people understand roles they play better, they're more productive for your team. If that's not possible, and it's not all the time, then you have to change things around," Gibson said.
Audio: Gibby 021811
Galarraga and Owings throwing...
Kelly Johnson hitting off the tee...
Justin Upton in the cage...
The Arizona Diamondbacks have announced they will be playing a Spring Training game in Tucson at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly TEP) against the Chicago White Sox. The game is scheduled for Monday, March 7, at 1:05 p.m. Proceeds from the game will go to the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Fun.
Christina was the nine-year-old girl tragically shot and killed in the Tucson shootings. The young lady was a student leader, ballet dancer and Little League Baseball player. The proceeds are supporting Tucson youth in her name.
"Our family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for our sweet Christina. This charitable fund will ensure her legacy for the children in our community," said John Green, Christina's father.
"Yeah, I wish we weren't part of it," said Sox general manager Ken Williams, referring to the Jan. 8 tragedy that claimed Green and five other victims and wounded 14 people. "I'm very short with my answer there, but I wish we weren't a part of it. I wish it wouldn't have happened obviously. And it's tragic."
Christina's grandfather is former MLB manager Dallas Green and her father works in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a scout.
Additional Games Announced
The Diamondbacks also announced today they will close out Spring Training season with exhibition games against the Monterrey Sultanes on March 29 and the Quintana Roo Tigres March 30 at Chase Field. The games mark the second time Arizona has hosted Mexican League teams in exhibition games at Chase Field.
Along with the International League and Pacific Coast League, the Mexican League is one of three leagues playing at the Triple-A level. The Mexican League is the only Triple-A league sanctioned by Minor League Baseball outside of the United States, even though the teams in the league are not affiliated with any MLB teams.
Just days after SB Nation's Rob Neyer speculated on where Russell Branyan might land, the mystery has been solved. Branyan is bringing his talents (which include home runs and strikeouts) to the desert. He will join a rather long list of characters vying for a spot in the first base platoon.
Xavier Nady, Brandon Allen, Juan Miranda, and even pitcher Micah Owings were all slated to see time at first. Enter Branyan who comes to the team with a minor league contract and a spring training invitation as a non-roster invitee.
One can assume Branyan, 36, had other options that would have been at least as attractive financially. Perhaps it was the fancy new digs at Talking Stick that convinced him to give the D-backs a try. It's a good thing that clubhouse is so big because the team now has 61 guys in camp which should make for some busy days once the position players report tomorrow.
Here's what Neyer had to say about Branyan:
[...]Branyan can hit, though. Over the last three seasons, he's got a .245/.337/.515 line in nearly 1100 plate appearances. Sure, he strikes out a ton and you don't want him facing left-handed pitchers. But if there's not a semi-regular role somewhere for a hitter like Branyan, the game must have changed while I wasn't looking.
It's a well-established truth that Kirk Gibson wants competition for spots and with Branyan in the mix, youngsters Miranda and Allen will certainly be pushed. Perhaps the team isn't thrilled with their progress and isn't comfortable with either moving forward. Or perhaps Branyan is just a cheap way to get those guys to push hard and fight for the job in spring training.
Here's his numbers and pedigree via the press release:
Branyan, 36, hit .237 (89-for-376) with 47 runs scored, 19 doubles, 25 home runs and 57 RBI in 109 games for the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners last season. He opened the season with the Indians before being traded to the Mariners on June 26. Branyan led the Mariners with 15 home runs despite playing in only 57 games with the club, averaging a home run once every 13.67 at-bats.
Over parts of 13 Major League seasons with the Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Mariners, he owns a .234 average (657-for-2807) with 394 runs scored, 136 doubles, 8 triples, 189 home runs and 453 RBI in 991 career games.
Branyan is one of 11 American League players to record at least 25 home runs in each of the last two seasons and his 56 long balls since the start of 2009 rank 11th in the AL. In 2008, he became the first player in Brewers' franchise history to reach 10 home runs in 20 games or fewer into his season after doing so in his 20th game. Branyan was drafted by the Indians in the seventh round of the 1994 First-Year Player Draft out of Stratford Academy in Macon, Ga.
Looking at the roster for the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks, there's one thing that stands out -- no names stand out. The exception to that is Mike Hampton. Hampton, who signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks last summer, is the one and only player on the team with strong baseball cachet.
Gold Glove winner. Five-time Silver Slugger. MVP of the NLCS. Runner-up Cy Young Award. Two-time All-Star. And most notably, a guy who signed what once was the largest contract in baseball and is still the 25th largest in sports history.
Even casual sports fans know the name, "Mike Hampton"; or at least they did in the mid-to-late '90s when he was a star.
Now it's 2011 and Hampton isn't exactly mentioned in the same breadth as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, but he's what the Diambacks have and they seem pleased as punch that he's here.
"I want Mike to do well. His experience is invaluable," skipper Kirk Gibson said.
For his part, Hampton doesn't seem to have any misgivings, regrets or delusions of grandeur when it comes to his role on the D-backs. He's not looking to be the face of the franchise or dominate the media discussion. In fact, other than the name "Hampton" above his locker, you wouldn't know that a player of this caliber was on the team.
The eight competitors for five starting jobs in the Diamondbacks' rotation don't even have to worry about the shadow of a guy who once had a 22-4 record with a 2.90 ERA.
"I feel like at this point in my career my best option's going to be in the pen," Hampton said when asked if he had any interest in a rotation spot.
The lefty feels that his role on the team will most likely be that of an innings-plus guy but he's open to be whoever the team wants him to be.
"(I will) build enough arm strength to go multiple innings if need be, or an inning, or a batter. It really doesn't matter to me...I've faced lefties and righties so I think I can handle that role but at the end of the day whatever Gibby tells me to do, wherever he puts me, is where I'll be ready to go."
It's a good attitude to have given that Gibson doesn't have a specific job for him yet.
"If that's what this team needs, he could be. If it doesn't, he could be something else," Gibby said when asked if Hampton would be a lefty specialist like was at the end of last season. "He could start, theoretically. He has a lot of experience and knows how to pitch."
Regardless of his job in the pen, the role all agree on for Hampton is that of clubhouse sage. He understands that as a veteran on a team filled with young arms, his job goes well beyond throwing the ball when asked. Just this morning, I saw Hampton giving Micah Owings advice on his grip while the two tossed the ball during warm-ups.
"I'm here to help. I'm glad they're comfortable enough to come up and ask because I'll talk about baseball all day long," Hampton said. "There's a lot of young guys that have a little bit of time under their belt but they're still trying to establish themselves. I think we as veteran players need to set the tone."
One of those young pitchers, Daniel Hudson, talked about the value of having Mike Hampton on his team.
"Guys like that who've been around a long time, around the game, you just try and pick their brain every chance you get. How they attack hitters, especially since he was a starting pitcher for so long and he pitched in the same type of environment as Chase is when he was at Coors Field," Hudson said.
The role of player-coach has been gone from baseball for many years, but that is in essence what Hampton brings to the team. Of course, if he's going to take a spot on the major league roster he's going to have to perform on the mound and so far, he says his body is feeling good. Gibson said he's on schedule early in camp and has shown the ability to make the ball move to either side of the plate.
Hampton admitted that while he would like to play a few more years, he sees his role on the team as a transition to a possible coaching job when he hangs up the spikes.
"(Coaching is) definitely something I could see myself doing. I enjoy helping these young kids out and feel like I have quite a lot to offer. I'd like to play a little bit longer and then I'd have to think about that down the road."
(Mike Hampton takes the bullpen mound on the third day of D-backs camp)
Video of Hampton throwing a bull pen session today can be found here.
The pitchers and catchers continued their rotations between various stations this morning at Diamondbacks camp. Kirk Gibson seemed pleased with the progress and happy with the effort in this morning's work. Asked who stood out, he refused to name specific players, saying instead that the pitchers as a group threw well.
The morning went something like this:
After stretching and loosening up, the guys split into four groups moving between sessions that lasted about 20 minutes each. One group worked on pick-off moves taught by the artists known as Ed Vosberg and Mike Fetters. Here's a little video of what that looked like:
Another station focused on fielding from the mound. Pretty standard glove work there.
There was a group that worked on bunting and slashing. Kirk Gibson insists that he wants his pitchers to be able to do more than just lay down a bunt. Even if the slash play is just used to annoy opponents or keep them guessing, he wants it to be part of the arsenal.
And the final station was a short bullpen session. Guys lined up and threw maybe 20 or so pitches each to the catchers opposite them. In this clip, you can see Aaron Heilman (right) throwing to Henry Blanco while Mike Hampton (left) throws to catcher J.J. Pilittere.
Wayward pitcher Clay Zavada was present and took part in some of the stations (which all wrapped up around 11 am) but he didn't throw. For those who care, he's still sporting the mustache, but has added some chin hair to balance it out.
I was told by someone who tried to talk to him, that he considers his absence a personal matter and didn't want to discuss it. Hearing that, I didn't try and track him down myself.
Gibby Waxes Philosophical
As reporters are prone to do, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic asked Gibby a question that implied a comparison to last season's team. Fair question but Gibby used the opportunity to share a bit of his life outlook.
"I'm not going to go there. This is this year, we're focusing on where we want to go. The mind's crazy, and you guys know who Peter Crone is right?
"When you think about the past all the time, when you get to the present day you are thinking about the past so it becomes your future again. You understand? We're not thinking about that. We're thinking about the future. Stop asking me those questions. That's not how my mind works and you know that."
Closer And Catcher
Gibby seemed pleased with this future closer, J.J. Putz. He called Putz a leader who had a great sense of humor. And despite the earlier admonishment that he wouldn't talk about specific guys, he said Putz is throwing the ball very well.
Another example of leadership he gave was Henry Blanco. Gibby said Blanco was the first guy in the weight room this morning (Gibby himself was in at 5:40 riding the bike) with other guys coming in right behind him.
"I told him today, 'you're the king. I see the way the guys look at you.' You go watch him when he's in the bullpen. Watch how the guys watch him catch," Gibby said.
Kelly Johnson's Awkward Press Conference
Kelly Johnson was initially going to speak by his locker, but the PR staff had him come into the interview room and stand in front of the podium. He didn't like that too much but was a good sport. Kelly said all the right things about being happy with his deal and being glad to avoid arbitration.
Then, and maybe he was inspired by the podium, he went off about last year's team (he must not know Gibby's thinking on that yet).
Here's the full quote:
"I'll be honest, I'm sick of the moral victory thing that we started doing at the end of the year. I think we started with a real good, positive note with spring training and going into the season...I think everyone was confident and positive. I thought we had a really good momentum going into the season. It was unfortunate the way some games were lost but that's how it works. You still have a chance to go play May, June and July. April, May -- those months aren't going to decide your season.
"It's a shame we started making excuses early and we fell into the trap of moral victories. Well we lost, but the bullpen threw great today. Or, we got a great six innings from our starter but the offense didn't score any runs. We started looking for those positives but were losing.
"I think that's got to be done. It's got to be out the window. It's got to be more about, how are we going to win today. What is the Arizona Diamondbacks going to do today to win the baseball game.
"We're not the highest paid team in the world and we're not going to have perennial All-Stars on the roster but we all have the capability to be pretty dang good and we should have that mentality."
On the second day of camp for Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers, the fellas rotated between stations doing things you might expect them to be doing in spring training. Bunting practice. Running. Hitting (catchers plus Micah Owings) and pickoff plays. Pickoff plays were an area of specific emphasis for Kirk Gibson.
"We know it can't be a weapon for everybody. But is there one guy? Is there two guys? Is there five guys?," Gibby asked rhetorically about his staff who received instruction from former pitchers Ed Vosberg and Mike Fetters -- two guys known for their ability to get some cheap outs via the pickoff.
More than just learning what his guys can do and enhancing their skills, he's trying to teach them to understand how to "navigate through trouble" when runners are on base in key situation. In addition to the pitchers working on their moves, Gibby wants his infielders to do a better job reading situations and communicating opportunities. He wants that to come from the field and not the dug out.
And The Opening Day Pitcher Is...
Looking at the roster, it's pretty obvious there is no leading candidate to take the mound on Opening Day. On a team lacking star power or a "face of the franchise", that decision is weeks away. Randy Johnson is not walking through that door any time soon (and the birds of Arizona rejoice).
While Gibby was willing to concede it was an honor, it's not something he's thinking about yet. The team has an off day on March 14 and at that point he will probably begin setting up his rotation for the start of the season.
"We're going to set our rotation up the best way we think that's going to be best for our team. There's other things to consider -- lefties, righties, does guy throw hard, is he a control guy, is he a location guy. That's not something I'm focused on."
New Bullpen Arms From B-more
Kevin Towers talked about his two new bullpen arms acquired in the Mark Reynolds trade. While he conceded the team would miss Mark's power, he went to the "you have to give up talent, to get talent" cliché to explain the move.
Both David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio (pronounced Mick-o-lie-o) pitched last two days. According to Towers, Mickolio shows a good heavy sink in on the right-handed hitters and Hernandez has a good curve ball that "comes out of his hand fairly easy."
Zavada Will Show
Clay Zavada is taking his physical today and should be in camp tomorrow. The rehab process is difficult for guys and Zavada didn't feel right last week throwing the ball according to Towers. Facing the grind of more rehab, he considered hanging it up, but with more time to think about it he decided he's going to give it a shot.
"He probably just had a 24 to 48 hour period where he had some doubts but it sounds like he's focused on coming in here and continuing the rehab process and hopefully pitching in the big leagues," Towers said.
"It sounds like he's an emotional kid anyway and he probably just wasn't feeling real good with where he was at."
Towers said the indecision is, "not going to hurt his situation with us at all." The goal with Zavada is to having him pitching by April or maybe at the tail end of spring training. He had Tommy John elbow surgery in May 2010.
Kelly Johnson Arb-avoided
"I always felt it hurts relationships and especially being new here I want the player to be focused and ready for the season and not having to worry about putting on a suit and siting in a hearing room tomorrow.
"I think it was good for both sides and we got all of our arb-eligible guys done and now we can start focusing on getting ready for the season," Towers said about the deal the two sides agreed to.
There was no discussion of signing Johnson to a multi-year deal.
"First and foremost, I want him to have value as a pitcher. The rest is a bonus," the D-backs skipper said. That's not to say Gibby isn't intrigued at what Owings might be able to do.
"A couple of years ago I saw Lou Piniella take a pitcher out, put him at a position, then put him back at pitcher. You can do that one time during an inning."
Right now, Micah is considered to be a power right-handed bat who can hit fast balls. The next step is to see how he handles breaking balls and what he looks like at first base in game situations. He will get opportunities to play first this spring.
Just a reminder that the Diamondbacks Spring Training is very accessible to fans. Today there was an autograph session at 11:20 am and fans can get very close to where the players are working out.
The two sides weren't all that far apart with the Arizona Diamondbacks filing for $4.7 million and Kelly Johnson looking for $6.5 million. Given that relatively small gap and the D-backs express desire to avoid the arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday, it is no surprise that they were able to reach an agreement on a one-year deal (terms not yet disclosed).
GM Kevin Towers made it clear that he was happy with the middle of the infield which now includes Miguel Montero (catcher), Stephen Drew (short stop), Kelly Johnson (second base), and Chris Young (center field). That core will anchor the defense and will likely be a much more constant presence in Kirk Gibson's lineup. The infield corners and right field remain much more fluid.
From the D-back's press release: Johnson, 28, hit .284 (166-for-585) with 93 runs scored, 36 doubles, 5 triples, 26 home runs and 71 RBI in 154 games last season. He established career-highs in hits (166), home runs (26), RBI (71), stolen bases (13), slugging percentage (.496) and OPS (.865) while setting a new mark among D-backs' all-time single-season totals for second basemen with 36 doubles.
Over parts of 5 seasons with the Braves and D-backs, Johnson has batted .269 (605-for-2,246) with 363 runs scored, 133 doubles, 27 triples, 71 home runs and 277 RBI in 644 career games. His .810 OPS ranks fourth among NL second basemen from 2007-10.
Steve Gilbert from MLB.com reports that Clay Zavada will indeed show up to Diamondbacks camp as soon as today or perhaps tomorrow. Zavada's agent told Gilbert that the LHP was experiencing some shoulder problems which is why he failed to show up on time to get checked out by the team during routine physicals. OK.
Zavada's agent, Barry Meister, said that Zavada experienced some discomfort in his shoulder and that was the reason for his absence. "He just needed a couple of days to figure out what was going on with his shoulder," Meister said.
Minor league left-handed pitcher Clay Zavada didn't show up for his physical with the Arizona Diamondbacks last night according to Tweets from multiple sources covering the team. GM Kevin Towers reportedly said Zavada was "having some doubts about wanting to go through this again."
Zavada, who was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 30th round in 2006, had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2010. He had previously left baseball in 2006 after his father died. The 6-1 lefty pitched in 49 games for the Diamondbacks in 2009 and had an ERA of 3.35.
Clay is signed to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invitation.
There are seven or eight guys competing for five spots in the pitching rotation. There were six different guys named as possible first basemen. An established batting order is a distant dream and Arizona Diamondbacks Manager Kirk Gibson can't even say yet if his team will play small-ball to manufacture runs or if they will again be a power team on offense.
To say that the Diamondbacks have a lot to figure out this Spring Training would be an understatement. Some of that is a result of all the changes the team made in the offseason and lack of star power in key positions, but some of that is by design and part of the culture change Gibson and Kevin Towers are trying to accomplish.
Gibby wants players to be hungry like his was his first Spring Training when he was cut from the major league team despite leading the squad in home runs. He recalled being pissed about getting sent down.
"I hope there's some of those guys in this camp," Gibby said.
Gibson was hesitant to be too specific about what things he will do differently in his first year running camp. He didn't want to imply that his way was better then the last guy's (as he put it). He promised the team would get in shape and do some full speed work but also would have time to relax and have some laughs. He wants his team to lock in when it's time but also not work until they drop.
Some of the changes he was willing to talk about focused on things like holding runners on base, and getting more plate production from the pitching staff.
"I want guys that can bunt, that can slash, that I can hit and run with. Ultimately, that's our goal. I'm using pitching right now for the topic, but that goes for every position on the field. We want to try and get as good as we can get and have a broader sense of our responsibility at any given position," the D-backs manager said.
"We want to have more ways to compete ourselves into good situations and more ways to compete ourselves out of bad situations...We're going to work very hard at expanding our game."
Ultimately, it seems that Gibson will adjust his style of play to the skill sets of his final 25-man roster instead of picking guys will skills that fit a certain mold even if they don't have the desired level of competitiveness.
2011 spring training for the Diamondbacks kicked off today with manager Kirk Gibson and GM Kevin Towers sharing their goals for the team. As we've heard all offseason, the focus is on changing the attitude and culture of the team. The details of who plays which position or what the starting rotation will be is secondary to building the culture of competition.
When the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to hire Towers, who in turn gave the manager job to Gibson, they were making a break with their recent past. They went from "organizational advocacy" and "geek ball," back to the roots of the sport with two guys who've been around for a long time and understand that at the end of the day the difference between winning and losing is as much about what goes on between a player's ears as what the crunched numbers say.
"Who are the Diamondbacks? We are trying to redevelop that identity. I'm not saying in six weeks it's going to be done but we're going to keep building and building and we won't be deterred," Gibson said.
The 'Diamondbacks Way' was summed up by Gibson and Towers in a simple statement: Compete.
"Even though the outcome may not be a positive on every day, clubs are going to know when they come into town and see the Diamondbacks on their schedule that (we're) going to fight, and compete and give it everything that (we) have," Towers said.
Learning to compete starts at the top and certainly Gibby and his coaching staff of hard-nosed former players like Eric Young, Matt Williams, Alan Trammell and Don Baylor will demonstrate that. If Moneyball was the D-backs identity before, Dirtball is what they want to be known for now.
Ultimately, it's up to the players to get with the program and find their own inner Gibby. As catcher Miguel Montero points out, you can only teach so much competitiveness.
"You can try and teach that but I think you have to be born with it too. It's something you have to have natural in your blood," Montero said on the first official day of Spring Training for the pitchers and catchers.
"I mean we can work on it, try and change their mind. But you got to be tough. That's what Gibby (brings) here, he's pretty tough and I know a lot of guys are going to adjust into it and learn a little bit about it and that's the goal."
Towers job is to fill the roster with players that have it. Gibson's job is to bring it out of them and put them in a position to use it to help the team win. The players job is to compete for each pitch, inning and game.
If they can deliver on that promise, the 2011 D-backs will at least be a fun team to watch.
Towers: Diamondbacks Can Win NL West
While most outside observers understandably don't consider the Diamondbacks a threat to make any noise in the National League West this summer, Towers wasn't ready to concede this season as merely a transition year.
"It will be tough, it will be difficult...I think we've got some good players here. Ultimately, it's going to come down to our pitching. If we pitch well, there's no reason why we can't win a division," Towers said.
"We need our players to believe that we can achieve that. I don't want our players saying, 'We just have to get to .500 or have a winning record or win more games than 65.' No, we want to go out and win the NL West. Can we do it? I think we can."
The former Padres GM pointed out that no one thought San Diego would win last year after losing almost 100 games the season before, but they came within one game of beating out the eventual World Series Champion Giants.
"If they can do it, why can't we," Towers added.
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