Wrapping up the road trip — April 15

A couple of quick leftover notes from Sunday’s D-backs/Rockies game before I dash off to the airport to catch my flight out of this frozen tundra…

– I asked Kirk Gibson if the reason he stuck with Bryan Shaw in the ninth was because J.J. Putz was unavailable.

“It’s a long season,” Gibson replied. “You make your choice. I used four guys in one inning there. I just made the decision there to go with Bryan. He was up and he was warm. We’ve got a new series starting tomorrow. Kind of rested the other guys. We felt like he was a good guy to get it done quickly for us. J.J. and David [Hernandez], they’ve had a heavy workload early. Bryan Shaw, we had a good feel about it. At the same time, giving him a little late-inning experience. He’s fearless. You feel very confident with him in there.”

I can’t say for sure, but I believe it wasn’t just that Putz had pitched Saturday, but also because he had gotten up to get warm several times in the last few days.

Regardless, Shaw enjoyed the opportunity.

“I’ve closed in college, I closed in the Minors last year,” Shaw said. “It’s where I like to be. I like being in that role late innings, whatever, game on the line. I just love being in that spot.”

– We had asked Gibson about not running as much prior to the game and he said that teams were playing closer attention to them on the bases after the success they had last year.

Sunday they stole four bases in the first five innings off rookie Drew Pomeranz.

“If there’s something available, then you take it,” Gibson said. “We felt there was. He was a young kid and we pushed the envelope there and the guys did a good job of that. I think he got a little unraveled there from time to time. But they hung in there. In this park, in many games, it’s never over until it’s over. Fortunately for us we got the job done today.”

 

D-backs vs. Padres Notes — April 10

A few leftovers from D-backs manager Kirk Gibson’s pregame meeting with us as well as links and some photos from today…

– Gibson was pleased with the way his pitchers executed their pitches in the Giants series.

“One thing we did pretty good last series was when we had to make pitches we executed them overall when we needed to so it’s easier to defend,” Gibson said.

– Gibson also liked the way the D-backs kept the Giants running game in check. The Giants added some speed to their lineup this offseason with the idea of being more aggressive on the bases.

“We were able to keep for the most part keep those guys where they weren’t just running at will,” Gibson said.

– The D-backs have not had a chance yet to fully evaluate Josh Collmenter’s rough start from Sunday. They were off Monday and spent Tuesday preparing for the series with Padres.

“I’m sure we’ll have some conversation about it and try to get him on the right track and make sure he’s able to duplicate his pitches where he wants to throw them,” Gibson said.

– PETCO Park is relatively new to Jason Kubel, who only has three games of experience here after playing his entire career in the American League with the Twins.

“It’s going to be different for him to get around to different stadiums and different staffs,” Gibson said. “This is a new team and how we do things. It is different so he’ll catch on quickly and use the information to his benefit very shortly.”

Here’s the details on Justin Upton’s injured thumb.

Spring adjustments have paid off nicely for Lyle Overbay.

Gibson got a gift from a Navy SEAL.

– In case you missed this, Stephen Drew told a touching story about one of his first baseball gloves.

– Here are some photos:

A view from the roof of the Marriott across from Petco Park.

View from the Petco Park press box just before first pitch.

Random thoughts left over from Opening Day

Some random thoughts as I sit in the Chase Field press box early Saturday morning…

– Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum comments about his team wanting to make a statement in this opening game/series struck me as being a little strange.

Yeah, I get that the D-backs won the division last year and clinched it against the Giants and every win counts especially in this division. Still, last year the Giants won seven of the first nine games played between these two teams and the D-backs then won seven of the next nine.

I wouldn’t put too much stock into what happens in this series. There will be 159 games after at.

– It could be that the D-backs are in Lincecum’s head a little bit. Until the last few starts he had dominated the D-backs. They seem to have a really good approach against him though. I don’t know that he made a ton of mistakes yesterday, but the ones he did make the D-backs hammered.

Chris Young made a good point yesterday that the D-backs have the same core group of guys going up against Lincecum and they’ve now got 50-60 career at-bats against him.

Trevor Bauer had a nice debut Thursday night.

It was a cold Thursday night in Reno for their opener, but Barry Enright came through.

Archie Bradley (the No. 7 overall pick last year) had a very nice professional debut Thursday for South Bend.

– Here are some links to coverage from yesterday in case you missed anything…

It looked a lot like 2011 at the start of 2012.

Kirk Gibson’s decision to hit Chris Young second pays dividends.

Wade Miley was pleasantly surprised to be involved in big league opener.

There were plenty of festivities at Chase Field.

A preview of today’s game against the Giants.

Ziegler helping to support military families with Saturday event

Wanted to let everyone know about a fundraising event that Brad Ziegler has Saturday.

Ziegler will be joined by Craig Breslow, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon (AZ time) at Hot Corner Sports Cards at the corner of Power Road and Main in Mesa.

For $20 you can get one autograph from each of the five players with the money going to benefit “Pastime for Patriots” a foundation he and his wife started to support members of the United States military and their families.

A portion of the proceeds from merchandise sold at the shop during that time will be donated to the foundation as well.

Sandwiches will be sold for $6 with $3 of that going to the foundation.

To make sure that everyone gets an autograph, if there are more requests than they can accommodate in the two-hour time period there will be a way for people to submit items they want signed and Ziegler will make sure they get taken care of.

Check out his web site or go to his Twitter timeline for more information.

D-backs Daily Wrap: March 14

WHAT HAPPENED:

– The D-backs dropped a pair of split-squad games.

They lost, 8-0, to the Padres in a day game at Salt River Fields.

They lost, 7-4, to the Rockies in a night game at Salt River Fields.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

The D-backs pitchers are serious about this sticking up for Justin Upton thing.

This is worth watching as the regular season gets underway. Teams clearly believe that the best way to get Upton out is to pitch him inside. The problem is when pitchers try to go in and don’t have good enough control and end up hitting him.

The guy was plunked 19 times last year and it got pretty ridiculous after a while. It’s not that all of the HBP’s were intentional, but after a while enough is enough. I think you’ll see the D-backs pitchers take care of it much earlier this season.

– On a related note, it will interesting to see if this adds any fuel to the D-backs-Padres rivalry. Remember, these two teams didn’t really like each other much in Arizona’s infancy as an organization. That’s cooled quite a bit, but with Josh Byrnes and A.J. Hinch now with the Padres organization and the little dustup on Wednesday…well maybe that will change.

Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin are pretty good.

OK, so we knew that already, but still…

Have to say watching Corbin on the mound while Bauer was throwing a simulated game in the bullpen was somewhat surreal.

It’s clear that Bauer feels very strongly about his routine and doing plenty of throwing. To this point there doesn’t seem to be a reason to change him. Why mess with success?

The D-backs are going to be featured on MLB Network’s 30-for-30 on Thursday.

– Josh Collmenter seems to be healthy after missing that start with tightness in his right forearm.

The results weren’t necessarily what he wanted, but again right now that’s not overly important.

– J.J. Putz threw well in his one inning of work in the night game.

– The D-backs finally got some hits and scored some runs in the night game. Gibson said he thought they were a little more aggressive in that game after taking too many pitches to this point in the spring.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

The D-backs travel to Mesa to take on the Cubs on Thursday with Opening Day starter Ian Kennedy set to take the mound. Kennedy has been battling flu like symptoms for the past week and allowed four runs in his last start. Barry Enright is also expected to pitch for the D-backs.

That’s all for today.
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23 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

D-backs Daily Wrap: March 12

WHAT HAPPENED:

The D-backs fell to the Indians, 3-2, in Goodyear.

– Joe Saunders left the game after being struck by a line drive.

– Kirk Gibson announced starters for Wednesday’s split-squad games.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

Saunders appears to be OK after being hit just to the side of his left shin. He will have an x-ray Tuesday just to be sure. We’ll see if he is set back by only throwing a handful of pitches rather than the 40 or so he was scheduled to throw.

– Outfielder Chris Young has looked good at the plate this spring after making a slight adjustment in his mechanics at the plate. Young is certainly playing like someone who does not want to lose playing time to Gerardo Parra in the crowded Arizona outfield.

Trevor Bauer has earned the respect of some of the veterans for his work ethic.

One of the aspects of his unique routine that could wind up being tweaked is the crow hop throw he does at the start of his warm-ups each half inning. He jammed catcher Miguel Montero’s thumb in his last outing and Montero was not pleased.

My guess: either they tell him to stop doing it or the catcher will just step out of the way from now on and let it go to the backstop.

– Speaking of Bauer…it’s a bit of a surprise that Gibson elected to go with Patrick Corbin instead of Bauer for Wednesday’s start.

– Third-base coach Matt Williams and Gibson talked to young third baseman Matt Davidson on Monday about not taking his at-bats into the field with him. In fact, Williams offered up a challenge.

“I want you to do a game where you don’t take one pitch off,” Gibson said Williams told Davidson. “One pitch, that’s hard. Matty would know, he was that caliber of a third baseman. We want to make sure he understands that.”

– A couple of other thoughts from Monday’s game…

Encouraging to see a clean inning from Bryan Shaw.

Joe Paterson did a nice job striking out two of the three batters he faced.

Outfielder A.J. Pollock continues to impress with his heads up play. You can see why the D-backs really like him. He doesn’t get intimidated by his surroundings and seems to have a real good feel for the game. Bunted for a hit with one out and the D-backs trailing by a run in the ninth. Ball was thrown away so he immediately found himself in scoring position.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

The D-backs return to Salt River Fields on Tuesday to take on the Angels.
Trevor Cahill will make his second start of the spring and he will be followed to the mound by lefty Tyler Skaggs. The D-backs will see a familiar face on the mound as Dan Haren is scheduled to start for the Angels.
That’s all for today.
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25 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

D-backs daily wrap: March 6

WHAT HAPPENED:

The D-backs fell to the Rangers, 16-3, at Salt River Fields.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

– The D-backs have not looked good so far this spring.

So far Kirk Gibson has taken what’s happened in stride, but if they continue to miss cutoff men and play sloppy baseball you can bet he’s going to have something to say about it.

– The D-backs haven’t backed off their early work.

Gibson cited all the work he’s put his team through in the mornings as a possible explanation for what’s happened so far in games. He also hinted at the fact that he could start backing off that a little bit following Thursday’s off day.

Jason Kubel has been fitting in nicely so far this spring.

Matt Davidson has impressed so far in camp.

– Joe Saunders didn’t have a very good outing resultswise, but the left-hander said he felt good about his pitches.

No one should read much, if anything at all, into the first outing or two of spring for established veterans. This is a time for them to get their legs under them and tinker with pitches or any mechanical adjustments they may be making.

The Minor Leaguers are anxious to get going.

Farm director Mike Bell was thrilled with the amount of players who have turned out for early work thus far.

– Evan Marshall was struck in the right ribcage by a line drive Monday, but Gibson said after the game that it did not look like it was serious.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

The D-backs play host to the Indians on Wednesday at Salt River Fields.

Trevor Cahill will make his first appearance in a D-backs uniform and be followed to the mound by Tyler Skaggs.

That’s all for today.  Remember…
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31 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

March 3: D-backs daily recap

WHAT HAPPENED:

The D-backs beat the Giants, 9-6, at Scottsdale Stadium.

The D-backs tied the Rockies, 1-1, in 10 innings at Salt River Fields.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

Trevor Bauer was not fazed by pitching against big league hitters.

Bauer’s curveball was particularly impressive today as he got a couple of called strikes on it early and he seemed confident in throwing all of his pitches.

This was also the first time I had seen his pregame routine which includes playing long toss from foul pole to foul pole. It truly is an amazing thing to watch.

Tyler Skaggs says his shoulder is better.

– D-backs fans clearly were ready for the start of the Cactus League as there was a record crowd at Salt River Fields.

Everyone on the 40-man roster is now signed for the 2012 season.

– This Kevin Towers guy just might know a thing or two about judging players. Just yesterday, Towers was telling us that he liked how Marc Krauss looked early in camp. Then, wham, Krauss goes out and goes 2-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs in the opener.

This is a big year for him as he tries to re-establish his prospect status.

– Justin Upton and Chris Young got off to hot starts as they went a combined 5-for-6 with a homer and an RBI.

– Konrad Schmidt had a nice day going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI against the Giants.

Speaking of Schmidt, Happy Birthday wishes go out to his grandmother Laverne Schmidt of Corte Madera, Calif. Laverne turned 93 years young Saturday and Konrad not only called her to pass along his wishes, he also had a big day at the plate.

– Was not over at the game with the Giants, but heard that Rusty Ryal was forced to leave the game. Gibson told us that Ryal has been battling some tightness in his groin.

– Looks like LHP Wade Miley pitched well against the Giants tossing two scoreless innings.

– Matt Davidson was 1-for-3 against the Rockies, but was even more impressive with his glove at third.

“Davidson I thought played pretty well over there,” Gibson said. “Showed soft hands. I like the way he looks at the plate.”

– Because of the split-squad game, Davidson and outfielder A.J. Pollock had to play all nine innings.

“I didn’t really want to do that the first day, but they handled themselves well,” Gibson said. “We’ll try and adjust tomorrow. I may not use them tomorrow.”

– Impressive day on the mound for the D-backs against the Rockies. Patrick Corbin was a little wild with three walks in 1 2/3 innings. Lefty Mike Zagurski struck out two of the three batters he faced and Evan Marshall also looked sharp.

“Pitching overall today was good,” Gibson said.

If you haven’t read Nick Piecoro’s piece on Bauer in today’s Arizona Republic, do yourself a favor and check it out. Good stuff.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

The D-backs play host to the Giants at Salt River Fields on Sunday with Opening Day starter Ian Kennedy on the mound.

– Relievers Takashi Saito and Craig Breslow are expected to make their D-backs debuts in the game. Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez are also among those who should see action.

– If you don’t have tickets yet, you’re out of luck. The game is officially a sellout.

– Brian Burres will start for the split-squad Giants, who are throwing Madison Bumgarner against the Brewers in Maryvale .

That’s all for today.  Remember…
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34 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

March 2: D-backs Daily Recap

WHAT HAPPENED:

– The D-backs had their final workout before Spring Training games begin.

– The team did some fundamental drills and took batting practice in the Salt River Fields main stadium.

Tyler Skaggs was scratched from his Saturday start with some tenderness in his shoulder.

– GM Kevin Towers met with the media.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

– The D-backs are being extra cautious with Skaggs and Kirk Gibson went out of his way to say that Skaggs was much improved from Thursday to Friday, but the staff does not want to take any chances with such a prized prospect. Especially with it being the opener, Skaggs would certainly be at max effort.

– As the spring goes on and the team begins to make cuts, look for Towers to not always be in the main stadium.

“I’ll probably spend more time on the back fields watching our young kids and getting a better feel for what we’ve got in the pipeline,” Towers told us.

– Minor Leaguer Marc Krauss has made an impression on Towers so far after a disappointing 2011.

“Marc Krauss, his body is completely different from where he was last year,” Towers said. “He’s lost a lot of weight and is in great shape. I know coming into last year he was a name given to me to kind of keep your eye on. You can tell that he worked real hard this offseason to get his body back in shape. Body looks great, swing looks good. I see him in the weight room every day, he’s working real hard.”

– The D-backs could look to lock up their top two pitchers.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Towers has made it clear that they hadn’t approached the pair yet and that the club had no desire to negotiate in season. So we should know one way or the other sooner rather than later.

– The D-backs are still looking for catching help. Towers said that their efforts did not increase because of calling off the Montero extension talks.

“I think we were active even before that,” Towers said. “Not knocking what we have down below, but throughout the whole system that’s probably an area we’re as light on prospect talent. We were talking to clubs this winter trying to indentify young catchers that could be available just to add to the depth in our system. That hasn’t changed. We’ve targeted probably a handful of guys that we’ll scout not only in the spring, but probably throughout the Minor League season, more guys at Double-A/Triple-A that we think are close to give us protection just in case something doesn’t happen with Miggy at the end of the season.”

The D-backs games this weekend are popular.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

– The D-backs play a split-squad game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields (1:10 p.m.) and the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium (1:05 p.m.)

Trevor Bauer will start the game against the Rockies with Patrick Corbin among those seeing action.

Josh Collmenter will start the game against the Giants with Wade Miley, Bryan Shaw and Charles Brewer among those expected to see work.

– Ian Kennedy will get the start against the Giants on Sunday at SRF.

That’s all for today.  Remember…
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1 day until spring opener
35 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

Day 9: Feb. 27

WHAT HAPPENED:

– Stephen Drew took grounders once again.

– D-backs pitchers threw live batting practice sessions.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

– Drew will not be on the field for at least the first few Cactus League games. This, of course, we pretty much knew already, but D-backs manager Kirk Gibson confirmed it.

“No, no, not even close,” Gibson said when asked if Drew would play in the first few games.

That said Drew did take 40-50 grounders moving more to his left and right than he had so far and he did a reverse pivot and also planted in the hole to throw to first.

“I didn’t see him do that in his other sessions so it kind of tells you that he’s starting to become more comfortable with what he feels,” Gibson said. “When you have surgery like that you’re going to feel it for a while. He’s going to be playing and he’s still going to be feeling stuff. That’s just the way it is.”

The goal right now is to get Drew integrated into his regular work group and though he won’t do as many reps of things as they do it will be with greater intensity. He is likely to have Wednesday off as a recovery day.

“He’s pretty fluid out there,” Gibson said. “I don’t think he missed one ball that I saw. He’s got his hands and feet pretty good.”

– Chris Young learned what it’s like to face Josh Collmenter.

Young had said he was looking forward to facing Collmenter after standing in center field all last year and watching the right-hander’s unorthodox delivery flummox hitters.

– More on this tomorrow, but Collmenter’s third-best pitch, his curve, is coming along and Gibson had a word of warning for those who question whether Collmenter can repeat the success he had last year.

“Don’t doubt Collmenter if that’s what you’re doing,” he said.

– J.J. Putz is looking good.

So says Gibson, who watched the right-hander throw to hitters.

“He threw the ball really well today,” Gibson said. “Had good movement on his ball. I thought he threw the ball very good.”

Ken Kendrick is thankful for what his team accomplished last year.

There will be some room in the payroll for a midseason acquisition.

The D-backs season ticket sales are up.

My colleague, Lyle Spencer, thinks the signing of Joe Saunders could prove crucial for the D-backs.

WHAT’S COMING UP:

– More of the same as the Young Guns will face hitters for the second time Tuesday.

– Reminder: workouts are open to the public. They are free as is parking before games get underway.

You can park in the Desert Parking Lot and walk to any of the fields.

That’s all for today.  Remember…
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5 days until spring opener
39 days until Opening Day vs. Giants

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