There were a few lineup changes announced for Monday's series opener between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers. Regulars Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson are set to be on the bench tonight as the Brewers send left-hander Randy Wolf to the mound.
When manager Kirk Gibson was asked if Drew was just "getting a day," he simply replied that he's not in the starting lineup, but might come in late in the game "and drive in the winning run."
The rest is probably a combination of the left-hander on the mound and the fact that Drew has been in a bit of a slump. In his last 10 games, he is hitting only .162 and has struck out 10 times in 37 at-bats.
There has been one notable statistic that some might see as reason for concern, and that is the amount of strikeouts. Coming in to this season, general manager Kevin Towers made a concerted effort to cut that number down. They have, but in the three games since the All-Star break, the D-Backs hitters have struck out 32 times. They are fourth in the league in strikeouts.
When asked if the amount of strikeouts were a concern, Gibson's response was a confident "no." "Even if you have good hitting," explains Gibby, "good pitching will shut down good hitting. It always has." He made it clear that hitting comes and goes and striking out will come with that at times.
It appears that, at least for now, there is patience with rookie starter Josh Collmenter to let him develop as a starter. There has been some talk among fans and writers that perhaps Collmenter would be best suited for the bullpen because of his delivery and because of his performance before his win in Milwaukee before the break.
He has lost his last four decisions and in two starts previous to Milwaukee, had given up 11 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings of work.
But when asked what he expects to see from his young right-hander, he answered he wants him to pitch "a complete game, but we know that might not happen."
He downplayed the need for a specific outcome from Collmenter, who threw six shutout frames in his last start, and that there should be any pressure on him. "Whatever happens, we're a team," he said. "It's not on any given individual on any given moment."
As for the team's closer, J.J. Putz, he threw on Sunday and looked good. He threw 17 pitches and was in the 91-92 mph range. He is set to throw on Tuesday. "He'd like to be activated probably," Gibson explained, "but I'd like to be more convinced that we are doing the right thing." If he throws well and feels good after Tuesday, it looks that at that point he would be activated.
This series will be the only one until August 8 in which they are playing a team other than from the NL West. After Milwaukee leaves, Arizona's next 15 will be against division rivals.