Results tagged ‘ Augie Ojeda ’
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When you think of leadoff hitters, you typically think of someone who is fast.
In the National League, though, the job description is a little different, at least in D-backs manager A.J. Hinch’s mind.
That’s because with the pitcher in the lineup a lot of times he sacrifices a runner into scoring position and then who follows him? The leadoff guy.
“He can be a run producer as well,” Hinch said. “I don’t think we have a traditional leadoff hitter on our so I’m going to be creative.”
Along those lines, Hinch decided to get a look at Conor Jackson in the leadoff spot for the first time Sunday.
In 2008, the last time he was healthy, Jackson led the team in on-base percentage and on the team right now, no one works the count as well as he did.
I like the idea of Jackson in the No. 1 spot, because not only does he get on base, see pitches and work counts, he is not a base-clogger. He’ll never be confused with Rickey Henderson on the bases, but he runs well enough and will steal a few bags.
Hinch said he might try Jackson in the leadoff spot again. Given the alternatives, I’d sure like to see him do that.
BETTER: Edwin Jackson was better Sunday than he had been in his previous outing when he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Good, not great.
“Obviously the walks killed him,” Hinch said.
Jackson walked Aarond Rowand to start the game and then hit Andres Torres with a pitch before allowing a three-run homer to John Bowker.
Jackson said he had some trouble settling into a rhythm, but once he did he pitched pretty well the rest of the way getting in five innings.
“To get through five the way it started was pretty successful,” Hinch said.
Here’s a photo from today…
MENTAL MISCUES: Hinch was not pleased with some mental mistakes made by his squad Sunday including the final play when Ryan Roberts, who represented the tying run, was thrown out to end the game trying to stretch a double into a triple.
There were a couple of positioning mistakes and Miguel Montero did not get to second on a fly ball that was dropped.
“That’s the disappointing part of today,” Hinch said of the mental errors adding that while he didn’t want to make too big of a deal about them they will be addressed.
NO WORRIES: Talked to Chad Qualls before the game about his outing the other day against the Royals in which he allowed six runs and lasted just one-third of an inning.
“I got the pitcher out,” Qualls said.
Qualls can joke, because other than that outing he has pitched well this spring (he had a 1-2-3 inning Sunday) and most importantly he has experienced no ill effects from surgically repaired left knee.
“I’m lucky enough that I can flush that one [bad outing] down the toilet and get after it today,” he said.
MAKE SOME NOISE: It started out with Hinch telling his backups during a game to get in there and “make some noise.”
And it’s now progressed to the “Hyena Club” because well hyenas make plenty of noise. There’s a picture up in the clubhouse (see below) of real-life hyenas with the club members listed. They are Cole Gillespie, Gerardo Parra, Ed Rodgers, Evan Frey, Rusty Ryal, Brandon Allen, Augie Ojeda, Ryan Roberts, John Hester, Tony Abreu, Drew Macias, Jeff Bailey and Sean Coughlin.
“B” TEAM: The Giants had only one projected Opening Day starter in their lineup Sunday and they pitched Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in a Minor League game in Scottsdale rather than have him make the trip to Tucson.
“With the Tucson trip you’re never really surprised by anything,” Hinch said. “It’s probably more disappointing for the fans.”
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CLOSE CALL: The competition for the final spot on the bench is starting to really heat up for the D-backs.
“It’s nice when the plot thickens a little bit,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “We still have a lot of time left so there’s plenty of time for further evaluation, but to have them playing crisply is good to see.”
Tony Abreu, Jeff Bailey, Cole Gillespie and Rusty Ryal have all impressed in various ways. At the start of camp it looked like Abreu and Ryal would be the main the combatants given that the team probably would not want to carry five outfielders (Gillespie) or a another first baseman (Bailey).
It’s still doubtful that they will carry someone whose primary position is first base, but Gillespie may make them reconsider carrying five outfielders.
“It’s interesting how guys can change your mind or push to make rosters,” Hinch said. “I think with our roster and the flexibility we have it’s not inconceivable that we wouldn’t carry five outfielders. Gillespie is making a great impression.”
Acquired in the deal that sent Felipe Lopez to Milwaukee last July, Gillespie has hit the ball well — he tripled in his one at-bat Saturday to raise his average to raise his spring average to .316. In addition he’s shown that he can play all three outfield positions rather than just the corners, which adds to his value.
Abreu and Ryal have both played extremely well. Saturday it was a back and forth between the two with Abreu, who is hitting .478, tripling home a pair of runs in the fifth and Ryal coming back with a homer one inning later.
Ryal, who raised his average to .250 with a pair of homers, also made a nice diving stop at third and has shown he can play second, first and left field as well.
“Ryal’s diving play at third was nice to see,” Hinch said.
Abreu has already proved he could play second, short and third this spring.
“Abreu continues to impress at short,” Hinch said.
There’s still three weeks left and it will likely come down to what skill set Hinch wants in that final spot. Does he want a versatile middle infielder like Abreu? Or with Augie Ojeda already filling that role does Hinch want someone with a little more pop in his bat like Ryal? Or does Gillespie play so well that he forces them to carry a fifth outfielder?
Stay tuned. This could get real interesting.
WEBB UPDATE: Brandon Webb played catch again Saturday and there seems to be some encouragement building in him as well as Arizona officials.
“He feels great,” Hinch said. “I think the three or four day blow that we gave him was what he needed. He’s showing some more life in his arm. The good thing is he’s progressing at a more accelerated pace.”
Webb threw a few breaking balls, something Hinch took as a very positive sign though there is still no timetable for him to get into a Cactus League game.
“Hopefully sometime in the next week I’d certainly would hope to get him back up on the mound and get him back on his program of bullpens and whatever’s next,” Hinch said.
And let’s stop waiting for the D-backs to come out and say he’s going to start the season on the disabled list — Hinch gets asked that question every day — and just accept that he will not be making the start the third day of the season as originally hoped.
The D-backs will not need a fifth starter until April 17 so it will be interesting to see whether they decide to just carry four starters until then and if Webb could possibly be ready for that start.
“If he’s not going to make the third start of the season when is that next start going to come?” Hinch said. “I don’t know. But what I do know is as soon as he’s ready we want him in our rotation. But until then we’re going to compete and expect to win so when he does get back he’s a great addition to our team.
NO PLAYING GAMES WITH KENNEDY: With Ian Kennedy only throwing 23 2/3 innings during the regular season last year — plus another 29 2/3 in the Arizona Fall League — Hinch was asked Saturday if the team might delay the start of Kennedy’s season a little to help keep his inning total down.
“We won’t be interested in delaying the start of his season on purpose,” he said.
Instead, the team will monitor him throughout the season and if necessary give him an extra day here and there. Hinch, though, said the team expects between 160-180 innings from Kennedy, typically what a No. 4 or 5 starter throws.
TITLES: Hinch does not want to say yet whether Bob Howry or Juan Gutierrez will be the primary setup man to closer Chad Qualls.
“It’s a little early to worry about that yet,” Hinch said. “[Gutierrez] will pitch in important innings, though, that’s how I would title it.”
BACK: Outfielder Chris Young, who left the team for a few days due to a death in his family, was back in the lineup Saturday.
First things first, here are links to a couple of stories from today:
Webb urges patience in judging rehab
Reynolds contract talks continue
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Chris Young put together another good day at the plate Saturday going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and three RBIs against the Giants. Friday against the Cubs he had a line-drive double to the gap in left.
“It felt good,” Young said. “Scottsdale Stadium always brings a lot of energy. Packed house, lots of D-backs fans out there today.”
Young, who spent the offseason working with a track coach on becoming more explosive, had a bunt single in the first inning. Bunting is something he also worked at during the offseason. With as hard as he hits the ball to the left side, third basemen tend to play him deep, which would seem to give him an opportunity to lay the ball down some.
“I’ve got to use my speed more,” Young said.
In what has to be a good sign for the D-backs even the out Young made — a strikeout in the second inning — he worked the count and battled during the at-bat.
STARTING OPTIONS: Before the game I asked GM Josh Byrnes if Brandon Webb was not ready for the opener would he look to add a starter.
“I think we want to evaluate the guys we have and give them a chance,” Byrnes replied. “Like any spring, we have a good idea of players that could be available for a variety of reasons and we’ve got to scout them and decide whether we believe they would be upgrades, particularly if there’s an absence. Generally that activity happens at the end of the month, if there is anything like that. We’re in communication with our scouts so they’re aware of a hit list.”
NICE DEBUT: Edwin Jackson worked two scoreless innings in his first appearance in an Arizona uniform. The right-hander allowed a pair of hits and fanned one.
“I felt pretty good for the first day,” Jackson said. “Stayed around the plate for the most part, commanded the pitches, not a bad first outing.”
Jackson said he threw all his pitches — curve, slider, change.
“Pretty much came with the full arsenal today just to see how it is,” he said.
When asked if he was working on anything he said, “Stay around the strike zone, make them put the ball in play. Get used to pitching to contact and let the defense work behind me.”
Jackson did do one thing that gave Hinch pause. In the second he laid down a sacrifice bunt and stretched for the base at first nearly colliding with Aubrey Huff.
“I could have done without that lunge at first base,” Hinch said with a smile.
EVEN DOZEN: Arizona manager A.J. Hinch has hedged as to how many pitchers the team will carry to start the year, but Byrnes said Saturday he would prefer they keep 12 with 13 position players.
LOOKING GOOD: Tony Abreu drew praise from Hinch for the second straight day for his play at shortstop this spring.
“I’m impressed,” Hinch said. “I think he plays with great energy and has a knack for finding the ball.”
Abreu has made several nice defensive plays this spring and is Hinch said “right in the thick of it” for the final spot on the bench.
Hinch added that the club could carry both Augie Ojeda and Abreu.
STOP!: The big inning has been a problem for the D-backs in their first three games.
The Rockies had rallies of three and four runs in the opener, the Cubs put up a four-spot Friday and the Giants scored nine runs in the fifth Saturday.
“Those big innings are not what we want to see,” Hinch said. “That’s a point that we’ll recognize. Control the inning. Being able to stop the bleeding when you have the opportunity to.”
A couple of notes on the D-backs signing of Kelly Johnson today and what it could mean going forward:
– D-backs manager A.J. Hinch had lunch with Johnson on Wednesday and is optimistic about Johnson rebounding from a sub-par 2009.
“He’s a nice addition for us,” Hinch said. “He knows how to put together an at-bat. He’s a high character guy and a good worker.”
Johnson was 7-for-9 in the stolen base department last year and Hinch could see that total increasing.
“He wants to run a little bit more,” Hinch said. “He’s a good base runner and could be a better base stealer. It’s something he’s going to work hard on.”
– As to what the signing means for other infielders on the roster I think some have been a little quick to say that Augie Ojeda is certain to be traded.
The team signed Johnson with the idea that he is going to be the starter at second so that would push Tony Abreu into a backup role, which in fact could make Ojeda the odd man out. It’s also possible that the team could keep Ojeda and give Abreu some additional time in Triple-A.
Hanging onto Ojeda at least during the spring would make sense. The D-backs learned the hard way last year that a perceived surplus at a position can disappear in a hurry. Remember when we talked last spring about how Bob Melvin was going to find playing time for all his outfielders?
As for Ryan Roberts, he’ll still get a chance to earn some at-bats both at second and in left field. If Conor Jackson ends up playing a lot of first base, Gerardo Parra and Roberts could be a good combination in left.
– As far as whether the D-backs are done with their winter moves, it’s hard to say. They are almost right at their budget for 2010, but they could end up spending a little more than they planned if a quality free agent is still sitting there in late-January/early-February and is willing to sign for a big discount.
The team could also have some money to spend if it deals catcher Chris Snyder and the $4.75 million he is owed next season.
– The addition of Johnson along with a return to health of Conor Jackson should help lengthen the D-backs’ lineup. Both are players that know how to put together good at-bats and work deep counts.
The D-backs have solidified their bullpen and given their starting rotation a new look this offseason.
Their work, however, is not done yet.
With about $3 million left in their budget, the D-backs have an offer out to free agent Kelly Johnson and expect to hear in the next couple of days whether the former Braves’ second baseman will accept it.
Johnson is a player the D-backs have long liked. Though he has played some outfield, Arizona appear to be interested in Johnson as a second baseman.
If Johnson were to accept their offer and get the starting nod at second, the D-backs could shift Tony Abreu into a utility infield role. That would make infielder Augie Ojeda expendable. The team learned during the Winter Meetings that there is interest in Ojeda so moving him would probably not be a problem.
The D-backs could also elect to keep Ojeda initially and give Abreu more seasoning at the Triple-A level.
Even though signing Johnson would put them at their budget, the D-backs could wind up with some wiggle room if they were able to trade Chris Snyder and the $4.75 million he is owed next season. The D-backs had agreed to trade Snyder to Toronto earlier during the offseason in exchange for first baseman Lyle Overbay, but the Blue Jays backed out of the deal due to concerns about Snyder’s surgically repaired back.
The D-backs will also continue to monitor the free agent market to see if one of the prices fall for some players as Spring Training approaches.
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I was greeted with snow flurries and a brisk wind as I made my way the 30 or so yards outside this morning.
Things appear to be relatively quiet on the D-backs’ front. Still waiting for word as to when The Trade will become official, though I get the feeling that might not happen today.
Rangers are said to be interested in Augie Ojeda and it appears other teams are as well. That does not bode well for his chances of returning to Arizona next year.
D-backs have turned their attention to finding a right-handed relief pitcher. I’ll let you know more after we have our meeting with GM Josh Byrnes in a couple of hours.
With the Winter Meetings coming up next week (Dec. 6-9) in Indianapolis (just curious did MLB run out of warm weather cities to host it in?) I thought it would be a good time to look at some other important dates in the month of December.
Deadline to offer free agents arbitration: Tuesday night is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents. If a player is not offered arbitration by 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) than the team does not get any compensation should he sign elsewhere.
The only player the D-backs have a decision to make about is left-hander Doug Davis. They almost certainly will not offer him arbitration because of the fear that he could accept it. The D-backs have not shown any interest in retaining Davis since they approached him in July about the possibility of a one-year extension.
If the D-backs are extremely confident that Davis would not accept arbitration, they could offer it and as a Type-B free agent, the D-backs would get a compensatory draft pick after the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
Deadline for players to accept arbitration: Should the D-backs for some reason offer Davis arbitration, he would have until 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) on Dec. 7 to accept it.
Deadline to tender contracts: Teams must offer contracts to its unsigned players by 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) on Dec. 12 otherwise those players become free agents.
Typically, the players that are “non-tendered” are those players who are eligible for salary arbitration. In the D-backs case they have seven players eligible for arbitration: RHP Blaine Boyer, SS Stephen Drew, LF Conor Jackson, C Miguel Montero, INF Augie Ojeda, RHP Chad Qualls and RHP Aaron Heilman.
At one time it looked like a possibility the team would non-tender Jackson, but after his time in Instructional League and his impressive campaign in the Dominican Winter League they certainly will tender him.
It’s likely the team will also try to reach an agreement with Ojeda on a deal before this date rather than get locked in to what he might make via arbitration.
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.