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Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training Winds Down, Russell Branyan Winning

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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.

Injury Report

There's an increasing list of dings and what not:

  • Geoff Blum did some work today but Gibby hadn't yet heard how his knee responded. There's a chance he starts the season on the DL.
  • Stephen Drew (abdominal strain) is doing fine and is expected to be ready to go by opening day. He will play in tomorrow's night game and then have the next day off. He did some work today as well.
  • Tony Abreu, who's played a lot, tweaked his back. He's getting a rehab day with the training staff. Nothing serious.
  • Ryan Roberts got drilled with a pitch in the arm but he's not going to risk his possible spot on the roster by taking any time off. He'll play today.
  • Joe Saunders will pitch today. He's behind the other pitches in innings thrown and Gibson wants to see him do well. The good thing is he's not walking guys but it's time for him to "bear down" and show his stuff.


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 | 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 | News
Russell Branyan took another step toward winning the D-backs' first-base job.

Diamondbacks Sign Kip Wells: MLB Rumors -
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.