May 2009

Funeral set for Gabrielle Schoeneweis

Funeral services for Gabrielle Schoeneweis, the wife of D-backs pitcher Scott Schoeneweis, will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. MST at Messenger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary in Scottsdale, Ariz.

According to Maricopa County Sherrif’s office, Gabrielle Schoeneweis was found dead on the floor of the couple’s master bedroom last Wednesday. Lindsey Smith, spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office said that there were no signs of foul play and while they are not ruling anything out, they are not treating it as a homicide at this point. More will be known once the medical examiner determines the cause of death.

“We’re respecting his privacy,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “I haven’t heard from him, nor do I expect to, until we get back home. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are still with him.”

The D-backs would like to go en masse to the funeral, but will be unable to because their game with the Padres that day starts at 12:40 p.m.

“We’ll have some representation there,” Hinch said. “We wish we could all be there for him. If it had been a night game obviously we would have chartered a bus to go out and be with him.”

Zavada enjoys successful debut

When he was called up to the big leagues a week ago, Clay Zavada’s stay lasted just one day and he never saw any game action.

Thursday, though, in Florida, the left-hander got the full big-league experience.

Called up from Double-A Mobile, Zavada got little sleep before arriving to Land Shark Stadium in time for the team’s game with the Marlins.

“I told him before the game it would be virtually impossible to not pitch in that game,” Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said.

Not only did Zavada pitch, but he retired the three batters he faced and wound up picking up the win as the D-backs won, 4-3.

“It was everything and more,” Zavada said when asked if Thursday was everything he had dreamed it would be. “To get the win, too. I mean it was a great team effort and a lot of luck involved for me to get the win, but it’s awesome.”

There were plenty of text messages and phone calls from friends back in Streator, Ill., where they were watching at a local bar that had the Major League Baseball package.

While he was giving a postgame television interview to FSN Arizona, Zavada received a towel loaded with shaving cream to the face, a baseball tradition given to rookies when they appear on TV like that.

“Growing up in Streator I used to see that on TV with Cubs,” Zavada said. “I never thought I would get one. There was so much of it. My head was white. It was a good one. They must have used two cans of king size Barbasol on that.”

Zavada, 24, is easy to pick out of a crowd given his handlebar mustache, which has draws plenty of attention from teammates and fans. It’s something that started last year when he was with Class A South Bend.

“Josh Collmenter was my roommate last year and he inspired me to grow it,” Zavada said. “Plus we had a mustache appreciation night or a mustache contest last year at the ballpark in South Bend. I didn’t have one goo back then, but it’s flowing pretty good right now. I’ve been growing it since last August.

“I don’t mess with it too much, people thing that I do, but it really just curls up on its own. I just kind of twirl it occasionally. If I have to pitch that night, the last thing I’m worried about is the mustache and waxing it up. Now, if I’m down for a day, you’ll see me wax it up, trying to look good.”

How long Zavada’s current stint in the big leagues continues is unknown, but one thing is for sure, the mustache is staying.

“I like it,” he said. “Not a lot of people do, but some do. I’d say it’s 50-50. It scares some little kids, but there are some college kids that like it. I’m just having fun. It’s all fun.”

When you’re in the big leagues everything is.

Hinch and Davis clear the air

A.J. Hinch and Doug Davis didn’t exactly join hands and sing Kumbaya on Saturday, but the D-backs manager and pitcher appeared to be back on the same page one day after exchanging what appeared to be heated words in the dugout.

Television cameras showed Davis confronting Hinch when the manager motioned for him to come back off the on-deck circle for pinch-hitter Ryan Roberts. The two then went up into the tunnel behind the dugout for a further discussion out of sight of the cameras.

“That whole thing was pretty much a miscommunication,” said Davis, who bolted from the clubhouse without talking to the media following the game. “That’s all it was.”

At issue was the meaning of the phrase “you’re up there no matter what.”

What Hinch meant by the statement was that Davis would be up on the on-deck circle regardless of what was going to happen.

Davis, on the other hand, took that to mean that he was going to hit and continue pitching.

“He had told me that I was going to be up there no matter what,” Davis said. “He meant up on deck. I thought he meant at bat. That was it. That was the whole discussion. It’s buried and done with.”

Hinch met with Davis prior to batting practice Saturday apparently to clear the air.

“I spoke to Doug as well,” Hinch said. “I think in the heat of competing when teams are struggling the way we’ve struggled, have gone through the changes that we’ve gone through, emotions run high. And guys want to compete, guys want to win. It’s done with as far as I’m concerned. I’m looking forward to his next start.”

While he may have been confused by the phrase that was used, it was also clear that Davis was not pleased about coming out of a game in which he was trailing 3-2 and had thrown just 80 pitches. He said after throwing 86 pitches in his prior start to go too many starts without getting close to 100.

“Yeah, of course I had the passion to go out there for another inning,” Davis said. “At first he said we’re going to hit for you. I said OK. Then they said you’re going to get up there no matter what. So then I think I’m hitting. Like I said, it was a miscommunication. That’s all it was. We talked about it down there in the hallway and got it over with. It’s buried and done with.”

If everything has been cleared up between Hinch and Davis, all may not be well at the moment between Davis and D-backs broadcaster Matt Williams.

The former All-Star chastised Davis for his behavior during the team’s television broadcast Friday and said that Davis had only himself to blame for his predicament because his throwing error led to a run in the second inning.

“Matt Williams was not down there at the time of the incident,” Davis said. “He didn’t know that he said to that to me. He thinks I showed up the manager but that’s not what happened. I wasn’t trying to show him up. It was just a miscommunication. He brought up my error in the second inning. Said if I didn’t make the error in the second inning we’d be right in the game. Would he be saying that if I were a second baseman, third baseman or a shortstop? Maybe, maybe not. I doubt it.”

When asked if he planned to talk with Williams about it, Davis said, “No, I don’t need to talk to him about it. Just another front office executive decision.”

Williams declined comment.

Minor (League) moves

A couple of moves to let you know about.

Infielder Josh Wilson, who was designated for assignment this past week was claimed on waivers by the Padres, who are in need of a shortstop.

That move, plus the suspension of Triple-A infielder Agustin Murillo on Friday, left the D-backs short on infielders at the top level of the system.

To compensate, the club signed INF Abraham Nunez, who was playing for the Atlantic League Newark Bears to a Minor League contract and assigned him to Reno.

No, this is not the same Abraham Nunez that was traded from the D-backs’ system to the Marlins in the 1999 deal for Matt Mantei.

Webb plays catch

It was a small step, a very tiny step, but when it involves an ace pitcher, it gets some attention.

Brandon Webb played catch for five minutes in a batting cage located in the bowls of Turner Field on Friday.

It’s the first time Webb has thrown since being shut down on April 24, though, he emphasized that it was a very light game of catch and that one of the reasons it was done in the batting cage was so that he would not be tempted to throw from a longer distance or push things.

Webb initially felt some stiffness in his right shoulder towards the end of Spring Training and again during his start on Opening Day. Following that game he was placed on the disabled list. When he began to play catch after that he also felt good, but eventually the stiffness returned and he was shut down again.

“We’re taking it slow day-by-day and see how I feel,” Webb said. “It feels different than it did the last time.”

There is still a long way to go before Webb returns to the active roster. He estimates that it will be three weeks before he can begin a Minor League rehab assignment and that is if everything goes according to plan with no setbacks.

“That’s a great way to start to the road trip to have that news,” Hinch said of Webb’s session of catch.

Price joins Phillies organization

It didn’t take long for Bryan Price to find work.

The former D-backs pitching coach, who resigned last week when Bob Melvin was dismissed as manager, was named as a Minor League pitching consultant for the Phillies on Wednesday.

“We’re extremely pleased to bring Bryan’s wealth of pitching knowledge into our organization,” Chuck LaMar, the Phillies assistant general manager for player development and scouting said in a statement.

Price will work with some of the organization’s young pitchers as well as do some scouting of potential pitchers the team might want to acquire prior to the trade deadline.

One thing the 46-year-old made clear was that he is not looking to be disruptive in any way to the Major or Minor League staffs and that he views the job strictly as a five-month position that will take him through the fall Instructional League.

“I’m not going to be the guy that comes in and contradicts what the pitching coach has been telling a kid,” Price said. “I’m not going to step on any toes, I just want to assist in any way that I can and whatever way they want me to.”

Price joined the D-backs staff as pitching coach in 2006 after spending six seasons as pitching coach for the Mariners.

“I’m thankful for this opportunity,” he said. “I’m pleased to be working with some really good baseball people in Philadelphia. This is a great situation for me.”

Snyder: Time to get on board

PHOENIX — Chris Snyder was one of players closest Bob Melvin so it’s no surprise that he had trouble dealing with Melvin’s firing last week.

After a meeting with new manager A.J. Hinch, Snyder said it’s time to move forward.

“I had a good talk with him,” Snyder said. “He was understanding of the relationship that I had with Mel and it was a good talk. I had the day going back and forth and the wonders and everything. Then you come to the park today and the one thing that was going through my head was ‘Why the heck not?'”

Melvin’s popularity with his players combined with Hinch’s lack of managing or coaching experience means the new skipper will need to earn the respect of his new charges. Snyder, though, set the tone for that Saturday.

“The 25 guys in this room still have to go out there and play,” Snyder said. “That [the managerial change] has been made. There’s a new guy at the top. Play for him like you’d play for anybody. It’s one of those things where if we want this, if we want to right this ship, we’ve got to trust him. He told us he was going to be very demanding and he’s going to push us. He said he’s going to be demanding and driven. It’s time to go, man. It’s time to go play. Let’s put our trust in him. I’ll be the first one to say it. Here we go.”

Hinch showed his sense of humor during his pregame session with the media Saturday.

“I have experience now,” he joked with one game under his belt. “Still proud of the double switch and the argument.”

In fact, the game was actually the most relaxing part of the day for Hinch.

As he drove home Friday night, he said he replayed the key points of game over and over in his mind, but sleep came relatively easily.

“When I went to bed last night I think it was a little more about a breath of air after a long day of high emotion, high stress,” he said.

No doubt getting a public show of support from one of the team’s leaders also will help put him at ease a bit.

“If it’s going to take someone to come out and say screw it, let’s go. I’ll be the first one. I’m on board. We’ve got to get everybody on board. We have to believe the decision was made for a reason and the more we question it the more time goes by. We need to focus on what’s going on on the field. The sooner everybody in here can say I’m on board let’s go, the better off we’ll be.”

Young to sit

Chris Young was out of the starting lineup Wednesday night and it sounds like he could be out for at least another game. D-backs manager said he wants to give the youngster a couple of days to clear his head.

Young has struggled mightily at the plate this year. He snapped an 0-for-23 skid Tuesday night on a tapper to shor that easily could have been ruled an error rather than a hit.

Clark to DL, Whitesell recalled

The D-backs on Wednesday placed first baseman Tony Clark on the 15-day disabled list with a strained ligament in his right hand and recalled first baseman Josh Whitesell from Triple-A Reno.

Clark has been bothered by the hand injury since he injured it against the Rangers in the final week of Spring Training and it has particularly bothered him while swinging left-handed.

Whitesell was hitting .356 for Reno in 87 at-bats. He is hitting fifth in Wednesday’s lineup.

Lineup/Roster Move

Just wanted to check in with tonight’s lineup: Lopez (2b), Ojeda (ss), Upton (rf), Reynolds (3b), Whitesell (1b), Jackson (lf), Montero (c), Byrnes (lf) and Garland (p).

That’s Whitesell as in Josh Whitesell, who was called up this morning when the team placed Tony Clark on the DL with a strained ligament in his right hand.

As I had speculated yesterday, Clark’s hand has been bothering him more than he has let on, especially when he swings from the left side.

I’ll check back in with more after we talk with Bob Melvin in a couple of hours.