April 2009

4 for 3 turns into 2 for 1

Throughout the offseason and Spring Training, D-backs manager Bob Melvin talked about how having four outfielders — Conor Jackson, Chris Young, Justin Upton and Eric Byrnes — for three spots would be a good thing.

It would build competition. It would allow him to give guys days off. They could match up with opposing starting pitchers.

Instead, trying to find the right combination has proved to be a bigger-than-expected challenge for Melvin.

“It seems like it’s been a little bit hard on all of them,” Melvin said.

Indeed, none of the four seem to have found their stride offensively, particularly Conor Jackson, who has started just 16 of the team’s first 20 games.

“We really didn’t envision here at the beginning of the season,” Melvin said of Jackson’s off days. “We felt like he was a guy that based on what he did last year deserved to be out there every day. He’s just gotten off to a little bit of a slow start and I expect him to pick it up and I expect him to play the majority of the games because he really did earn that last year.”

With Melvin saying that Upton needs to play every day and Young as well, it seems as though it has now come down to two players — Jackson and Byrnes — for one spot.

“I wish it hadn’t, but it seems like it is a little bit,” Melvin said. “It’s just a problem that we have. You’d really like to see somebody get hot and take the spot because I really would like to run a mostly everyday lineup out there.”

The Big Mo

Sorry for the lack of longer posts here this past week. I got caught up in the daily game stories, notes, previews etc. and did not get to the blog as much as I would have liked.

The clubhouse certainly had a different feel to it after Monday night’s game. Heck, Monday night’s game had a different feel to it. There seemed to be a lot more energy on the field in that one and for whatever reason the players seemed to be looser.

There are two types of stolen base signs the D-backs have. One is a green light that allows players to steal if they feel like they have a good jump. There’s also the “must go” sign which tells them to go period.

Bob Melvin declined to say whether those steals were green lights or must gos, but if I had to guess I would bet at least two were must gos. I think Melvin, though again he won’t admit it, has been frustrated with the lack of aggression on the bases.

And the confidence seemed to just snowball from there. It looked like they were having fun playing again, which has not been the case much this year.

We keep asking if a particular win, or rally or comeback is going to put the D-backs over the top and get them on the winning track. Last night again the question was asked since they had displayed so much energy and for the first time all year won two straight games.

But they say in baseball momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher and Yusmeiro Petit was not so good Tuesday night.

Coming into the series, the Carlos Zambrano-Petit matchup was the one you had to like your chances in the least.

We’ll see how they play in Wednesday’s series finale.

Lineups/Roster Moves

Here is a look at today’s lineup: Young (cf), Ojeda (ss), Jackson (1b), Reynolds (3b), Byrnes (lf), Upton (rf), Roberts (2b), Snyder (c) and Haren (p).

Lineups/Roster Moves

Running a little behind here after a couple of days off, but here is the lineup and a couple of notes. More to come later.

Lopez (2b), Ojeda (ss), Jackson (lf), Tracy (1b), Reynolds (3b), Byrnes (cf), Upton (rf), Montero (c), Garland (p).

Stephen Drew was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to April 25 and LHP Doug Slaten was optioned to Triple-A Reno.

To take Drew’s spot, the team selected the contract of Josh Wilson and to replace Slaten they called up RHP Esmerling Vasquez.

Flash

I am off today and tomorrow so I apologize for the lack of posts today and in advance for not having many if any tomorrow.

Couple of quick things:

– Not being there, I don’t have any details on the Brandon Webb situation other than what my fine colleague Jesse Sanchez reported. It’s not a good thing for the D-backs to be without their ace pitcher, but it seems to me right now their biggest problem is offensively.

– I spoke with Tom Gordon the other day about the number of walks that he’s had during his rehab starts. He explained that one of the reasons was that he was throwing his curveball in situations that he didn’t need to in a Triple-A game, but that he thought might come in handy when he gets back to the big leagues.

For instance, he talked about throwing one with a 3-2 count on a hitter simply because he feels at some point when he comes off the DL there might be a situation in which throwing the curve on a 3-2 pitch would catch a hitter off guard.

Lineups etc.

Here is the D-backs lineup tonight against the Rockies: Lopez (2b), Ojeda (ss), Jackson (1b), Reynolds (3b), Young (cf), Byrnes (lf), Upton (rf), Montero (c) and Petit (p).

– Stephen Drew should be back in the lineup Wednesday afternoon.

– Brandon Webb’s bullpen session went well (more on that in a separate story after we talk to him around 5).

– Chad Tracy out of the lineup tonight against the left-hander, but Melvin decided to let Montero have a crack at things after the way he swung the bat last night. Look for Tracy to be in there Wednesday against the left-hander Jorge de la Rosa.

Lineup and notes

Here is tonight’s lineup: Ojeda (ss), Jackson (lf), Lopez (2b), Tracy (1b), Reynolds (3b), Young (cf), Montero (c), Upton (rf) and Garland (p).

Stephen Drew is available to hit if need be. Hamstring is still a little tight, but he did run today for the first time since tweaking it.

Mark Reynolds is back in there after being out yesterday with the strained quad. He told me he begged to play yesterday, but Melvin was having none of it.

Franklin Morales will pitch for the Rockies on Tuesday.

Brandon Webb is still on target to throw a bullpen session tomorrow.

Tom Gordon pitched for Triple-A Reno yesterday and allowed a pair of runs on three hits in one inning. According to Melvin his command was not great. 

Haren’s frustration

Couple of quick thoughts about Dan Haren’s display of frustration in the Arizona dugout last night after being removed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning:

– You have admire his honesty after the game in saying point blank that he’s frustrated with being 0-3. He didn’t try to obfuscate at all. We always appreciate Haren’s interviews because he gives thoughtful answers and really tries to avoid cliches.

He also went out of his way to say that his intention was not to show up manager Bob Melvin in any way.

– You can understand his frustration. His team has scored a total of one run in his three starts. That’s simply unbelievable. There’s no question he should be sitting with a 3-0 record right now instead of 0-3.

– All that being said, it was something that never should have happened, because regardless of his intent he did show up Melvin as well as his teammates.

While Haren has a right to be frustrated, he’s not the only one that is feeling that right now in that clubhouse. Think the hitters are happy with the way things have gone. They have been awful, they know it, and they absolutely would like to be doing better.

And how about Melvin? This is his team. Think he likes watching the way the first 10 games of the season has gone? Think he would have liked to have thrown a few helmets or slammed a few bats after watching the losses pile up?

Like I said, this is not meant to be a rip at Haren. He’s a hard worker, a good teammate and a good guy who just got caught up in the moment. I would be willing to bet it’s something you will not see from him again.

Drew update

Just got through talking with manager Bob Melvin, who said Stephen Drew is still feeling it a bit in his left hamstring and that he will likely be out through Sunday.

Drew’s hamstring

I talked to Stephen Drew after last night’s game and he said he felt his hamstring “grab” when he was running to first base in the third inning.

When he went out on defense in the bottom half of the inning it still didn’t feel great and he wasn’t sure he was going to be able to get to balls hit to either side of him so he thought it was best to take himself out.

Augie Ojeda is in the lineup for him today.

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