Brad Ziegler was swapped to the Arizona Diamondbacks before the MLB trade deadline to bolster a bullpen that's been extremely good in the eighth and ninth inning (62-3 when leading after seven innings) but shaky in the seventh. A good portion of that is due to injuries, but the bottom line is Ziegler was brought in to fill a need for a reliable guy in the middle innings with a proven record of getting outs.
Unfortunately, Ziegler didn't make a good early impression on his new team. He gave up nine hits, five walks and five runs in first nine appearances. Lately, however, things have started to turnaround and we are seeing the guy who's posted a career ERA of 2.47.
Ziegler has been perfect in last four appearances out of the pen. In each of those games he's come in with one out and at least one runner on base. None of his inherited scored.
The change, according to Ziegler, has been a combination of factors ranging from uncertainty about housing for his dog immediately after he was trade to a philosophical misunderstanding with his new coaching staff.
As we learned from manager Kirk Gibson back in spring training, holding runners is an emphasis for this team. For a player joining the club in the middle of the season that translated to quite change in routine.
"It was a lot different for me being told what to do in that respect," Ziegler said. "At the same time, I didn't want to come across as uncoachable so I did it but it was starting to play mentally with me a little bit. I'm trying to focus on this pitch. I've got two outs and runner on first and I want to throw this pitch. If I get the hitter out the runner on first doesn't matter and they're asking me to throw over four times and then slide step the plate."
In addition to getting his dog's (and his own) housing situation settled, Ziegler sat down with the coaching staff and discussed the problem. After looking at his good record holding runners, the staff agreed that Ziegler could treat their instruction as "guidance" that he was free to follow or ignore as he sees fit.
"More than anything it was a burden off shoulder mentally. I didn't have to worry about it when I was on the mound."
- "From the time I've been here you see a passion, and intensity and a fire. They just want to go out and play hard and win. They play hard on every single pitch of every single game and it's fun to watch and it's fun to be a part of now. I felt like in a way the first couple of weeks I was here I was kind of watching."
- Brad Ziegler started a non-profit called Pastime For Patriots. The Diamondbacks agreed to sell the foundation discounted tickets which will be given to to service men and women and their families. Ziegler plans on raising money by auctioning gear on eBay.
- "I used to be a history buff when I was in school. The more I read about the wars it just made me realize that there's been so much sacrifice to get our country to this point. A lot of the sacrifice has been involved on the battlefield and a lot from the families at home...From the time I got called up to the big leagues I was looking for something that was the right way to give back."