Results tagged ‘ Bob Melvin ’

Melvin and Price candidates for big league jobs

Former D-backs manager Bob Melvin will interview with the Astros on Friday for their vacant managerial job.

Meanwhile, former Arizona pitching coach Bryan Price interviewed last week to become the next pitching coach of the Brewers and has also been mentioned as a candidate for the pitching coach job in Florida.

The Astros have also scheduled interviews with Dave Clark, who took over for Cecil Cooper when he was fired in late September, former D-backs skipper Al Pedrique, Ned Yost, Randy Ready, Manny Acta, Phil Garner, Brad Mills and Tim Bogar.

Houston has also been granted permission to speak with Philadelphia bench coach Pete Mackinin, but an interview has not been scheduled yet.

It’s not surprising to see Melvin and Price in the mix for another opportunity. Both men are well respected in the game and likely will not be out of work for long. Melvin will continue to be paid by the D-backs through next season.

Busy day

Busy today here in camp…

The pitching staff was set after the game and there were no real surprises. I’ll have more to say on this subject tomorrow.

Here are a couple of things Bob Melvin told us following the game…

— RHP Bobby Korecky, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins early in camp, has pitched better of late, but it wasn’t enough to win a spot on the staff.

“He got off to a little bit of a rough start coming into a new place and probably put a little too much pressure on himself early on,” Melvin said. “But pitched well the last couple of times out. Certainly a guy that we wouldn’t be afraid to call on at some point during the season.”

— Brandon Webb threw in a Minor League game and pitched around four innings (hard to say exactly since they tacked on a few outs in an inning or two). He threw 57 pitches, intentionally lower than his last few starts to keep him fresh.

“My fastball location was pretty good I thought,” Webb said. “Kind of working with the new catcher, threw a few more breaking balls than I would have, so I got some of those under my belt.”

Webb may throw two bullpen sessions between now and his start Opening Day on Monday.

— Tom Gordon continues to progress. He’ll throw a bullpen session on Wednesday and then a few more on just one day’s rest rather than the two days rest he has been working on for most of the spring.

We should know more about a possible timetable for his return in the coming days.

— Jon Garland threw around five innings in a Minor League game on Monday and Melvin said the right-hander continued to work on his cut fastball and curve.

— It wasn’t really a ringing endorsement when Melvin was asked if he would still use Jon Rauch as a setup guy despite his poor spring.

“Based on his history I think we’re pretty much locked into that,” Melvin said.

Sunday notes

Here are a few notes on this beautiful Sunday morning…

— Conor Jackson was possibly heading over to Minor League camp to get some extra at-bats. I talked to him just before batting practice and he said whether he did so or not would depend on how his BP session went.

I’ll have more on his struggles this spring in a story later on.

— Manager Bob Melvin fielded questions about Mark Reynolds defense on Sunday. The third baseman has committed six errors in Cactus League games this spring and one against Team Mexico, which led a reporter to ask Melvin if he would replace Reynolds with Augie Ojeda for defensive purposes late in games.

It sure sounded like Melvin would be hesitant to do that at least early in the season because of the impact it could have on Reynolds’ confidence. I mentioned earlier this spring and I’ll say it again, I think the biggest challenge for Reynolds this year is going to be mental.

“He’s been a little bit hit and miss,” Melvin said of Reynolds at third this spring. “I moreso look for if he does make an error how he reacts to that. How does he handle the next ball?”

— Tony Clark was back in the lineup on Sunday after missing a few days with a sore right hand. Melvin said he would probably limit Clark to hitting right-handed on Sunday and hopefully have him in the lineup again on Monday.

Clark has swung the bat very well this spring compiling a .375 average with four doubles and a homer. If he can once again be the late-inning threat off the bench that he was from 2005-07 that would certainly be a big boost for the D-backs.

— Speaking of swinging a good bat, Chad Tracy has looked good all spring. On Saturday he did a nice job going to other way against a left-hander.

— Stephen Drew (abdominal strain) was back in the starting lineup on Sunday.

— There is plenty of debate inside the organization as to whether they will carry 11 or 12 pitchers to start the season.

Melvin has tended to like having seven pitchers in the bullpen, which usually means a 12-man staff, but with Max Scherzer set to begin the year on the DL, the club could still have seven relievers with just 11 men on the staff.

Bonus Thursday coverage

Here’s a few more notes from Thursday…

— Stephen Drew said his abdominal strain was feeling better and he was out on the field during batting practice. He was scheduled to see Dr. Michael Lee later in the day so I’ll probably have an update for you on Friday.

— Conor Jackson’s left elbow was fine one day after getting plunked there by a Vincente Padilla fastball. Jackson wasn’t in the lineup, but that was a scheduled off day and manager Bob Melvin said he could easily have played.

— Brandon Webb picked a good time to have his best outing of the spring as it should give him some momentum heading into the season.

As you may have read in my story about his outing Webb used a “BP” fastball so named because it’s not thrown with max velocity like a typical fastball and comes in at more the speed of a batting practice pitch. The key is the batter has to be expecting a pitchers regular fastball so he is out front of the BP one and rolls it over for an easy groundout.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make is about how incredibly talented and gifted Webb is when it comes to picking up new pitches. A few years ago he started throwing that fastball that starts inside to a left-handed hitter — so much so it looks like it’s going to hit his hip — and then tails back over the inside corner for a called strike.

When I asked him how he developed the pitch he said he saw Greg Maddux throw it one day while watching television and thought it would be a good pitch so he just went out and threw it.

Back to the BP fastball. In his start prior to this one, Webb was on the bench talking with pitching coach Bryan Price about how maybe a BP fastball would be a good thing for him to work on so he could throw it in fastball counts when a hitter is sitting on the heater.

Webb went out for his next inning and threw a few good BP fastballs much to the surprise of Price.

“We were supposed to work on that in the bullpen not an
inning after we were talking about it,” Price told him when he finished the inning .

Just so long as no one suggests throwing a knuckler, he should be good to go on Opening Day.

— Reliever Tony Pena gave up four runs on five hits in two innings on Wednesday night against the Rangers, but Melvin praised the performance on Thursday pointing out that Pena did toss a scoreless first inning before giving up a grand slam the following one when he tried to throw back to back sliders to lefty Chris Davis.

“I saw a phenomenal first inning,” Melvin said. “Really good slider. The
second inning maybe just pitch selection more than anything else. The numbers
don’t suggest how he pitched. I was pleased with how he threw the ball

— Travis Blackley pitched his way back into the competition for the final three spots in the bullpen with a scoreless inning on Thursday.

No one has asked me (and they most certainly will not) but if I had to pick those final three spots right now they would go to Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner and Doug Slaten.

Buckner had another solid outing on Thursday and has really only had one poor one this spring.

“Buckner’s really pitched as well as anybody,” Melvin said.

This and that

Here are a few items that didn’t make it into any of the stories today…

— I had the day off on Saturday so I didn’t get to see it, but Travis Blackley’s line looked pretty ugly — three innings, eight hits and four runs.

“He struggled some,” D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. “He got behind some guys. He got out
of a couple of jams and a little bit later on, he didn’t get out of the
jams. Probably not what he was looking for.”

It seems like the entire competition for the final few spots in the bullpen has not been what the D-backs are looking for. Melvin went out of his way to say that there is still time for the pitchers to make an impression and that “everyone is in the same boat.”

Sometimes this spring it has seemed that boat had “Titanic” plastered along the side of it.

Anyway, these next couple of weeks are going to be pivotal in this battle.

“The significance of the outings are more so as we go on,” Melvin said. “You see how guys respond with some pressure on them.”

— Typically in this space we are very much in favor of outfielders hitting the cutoff man, but Justin Upton took that a little too literally on Saturday.

Again, I was not there Saturday, but this is the story that was going around the clubhouse.

Second baseman Felipe Lopez dove to his right for a ball that got through the infield and was fielded by Upton in right. Upton came up throwing to the plate to try and cut off a run and his throw nailed Lopez who was kneeling on the ground. Ouch.

–The sloppy play by the D-backs has certainly been a sore spot for Melvin especially with all the early work the team has been doing on fundamentals.

— Maybe it’s just me, but I like what I’ve seen from Mark Reynolds at the plate this spring. The strikeout total is still high, but it seems like he’s having better at-bats.

— And you heard it here first — Chad Tracy is going to have a very good season.

Tidbits from Melvin

Here are a few notes to come out of our meeting with manager Bob Melvin this morning that might not make it into other stories:

— Melvin heard, as we all did, that the pitch that really separated Daniel Schlereth from the pack was his curveball.

“But he’s got a good fastball as well,” Melvin said. “My judgment hasn’t changed that this guy could be a quick mover in the organization.”

Schlereth’s ball tends to get on a hitter quickly and his change has been pretty good as well. The one thing Melvin would like to see him work on is his command.

— Melvin was asked how he planned to use lefty Scott Schoeneweis in the bullpen this year and his answer was interesting.

“It depends on the makeup of the bullpen,” Melvin said referring to whether the team carries one or two lefties. “If you do have a second lefty than you really can tag [Schoeneweis] for a certain situation late in the game. If you don’t, it’s tough to just pitch him to one left-hander if he’s your only guy.”

In other words, a big factor is going to be whether southpaw Doug Slaten improves this spring and claims a spot. But using Schoeneweis against right-handers could be problematic judging by the numbers.

Last year, righties hit .333 against Schoeneweis, while lefties hit just .178. Over his career the numbers are .294 and .224.

Etherton impressive

One thing I did not mention on Saturday was the performance of Seth Etherton. The veteran right-hander tossed two scoreless innings against the Rangers.

“That was the cleanest part of the game,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said of Etherton’s innings. “Cuts it a little
bit, sinks it a little bit, really clean delivery, great understanding of his
mechanics and where the ball is going. He was impressive today.”

Melvin was then asked if Etherton, who pitched just 9 1/3 innings last year in Independent ball after undergoing “Tommy John” surgery in June of 2007, was a candidate to make the team.

“Who knows?” Melvin said. “We do have some spots open. The thing about our camp is we have quite a few guys that are competing for a couple of spots and we’re being open minded for guys that have a chance to impress us and he did today. So we’ll see.”

Notes from Wednesday’s opener

Some notes from Wednesday’s game…

— I wrote about Chris Young’s performance with his new mechanics at the plate, but here a couple of quotes that didn’t make the story:

Young: “I was just trying to stay quiet at the plate and get a good
pitch and see as many pitches as possible. Just trying to stay a little more quiet where I can stay on
the heater but at the same time be back for the offspeed so we’ll see how it
works out.”

Melvin: It’s not important that he has to get off to a good start, but to work as hard has he has in the offseason and get some results right away certainly adds to [his] conviction.”

— Gerardo Parra made a laser throw from right field to nail a runner at the plate in the seventh inning.

Ironically, the runner Parra gunned down was former D-backs outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez.

— Juan Gutierrez, a candidate for one of the final spots in the bullpen allowed two runs on three hits over two innings, but Melvin said he pitched better than the numbers.

“I thought Gutierrez threw the ball pretty well too,” Melvin said. “I gave
him a plus grade today.”

— The D-backs collected seven hits in the game.

“We were a little early swinging in the count today,” Melvin said. “I don’t
think we were as patient.”

— Billy Buckner allowed one run on three hits in his two innings of work and did not use the cut fastball that he has been working on for the last several weeks.

— Miguel Montero was hit on the side of his right leg just above his knee with a pitch, but said after the game that he was fine.

Notes from the last couple of days

Here are some notes from the last couple of days:

— Billy Buckner will start Wednesday’s opener. The right-hander will throw two innings as will Juan Gutierrez and Hector Ambriz. Cesar Valdez, Leo Rosales and Esmerling Vasquez are slated to throw one inning apiece.

— Other pitching notes, Dan Haren will start Thursday and be followed to the mound by Doug Daivs. Brandon Webb will go on Friday along with Jon Garland.

— Good news for the D-backs today with Max Scherzer throwing his first bullpen of the spring without any problems.

It’s worth noting that the D-backs will not need a fifth starter until April 14, seven games into the season, so it will be interesting to see what they do with Scherzer at the start of the season.

— All 11 of the ailing D-backs were back in camp on Monday after experiencing stomach problems the day before.

They were not asked to take part in the normal conditioning on Monday and the pitchers who had been sick did not have to go through pitcher fielding practice drills.

— Tuesday will be a light day for the team — maybe 45 minutes shorter than usual — before Wednesday’s first Cactus League game. In past years, they have played an intrasquad game the day before the opener, but since Spring Training is so long this year they don’t think they need the another game.

Speaking of which there will only be one “B” game on March 4 against the Rockies. Garland, Jose Marte, Leyson Septimo, Reid Mahon and Brooks Brown are slated to pitch that game.

— The D-backs early camp for Minor Leaguers got underway on Sunday.

More tidbits from Tuesday’s workout

Here are some notes from Tuesday:

— Look for James Skelton to play a number of different positions this spring. The Rule 5 pick is a natural catcher, but has spent time working in the infield over the last month with third-base coach Chip Hale here in Tucson.

Skelton will for sure play some second and also get a look in the outfield.

“We can at least try out a few things and see how he looks,” GM Josh Byrnes said.

Though he is of slight build, Skelton has already shown the staff some skills behind the plate.

“He has very soft hands, moves well and threw out about 40 percent of runners last year,” Byrnes said. “His defense behind the plate is solid.”

One of the attributes that led to Skelton’s selection in the Rule 5 Draft is his ability to get on base.

“A skill set we need,” Byrnes said.

— Max Scherzer threw a flat ground session and according to manager Bob Melvin even threw a few breaking balls.

Scherzer could throw his first bullpen this weekend, Melvin said.

— It’s best for both parties that the D-backs got a deal done with Conor Jackson before a hearing.

Jackson said all the right things this week about how he would not be bothered by what the club might say about him during a hearing, but he’s human and no one likes to hear negative things from their employer.

From the D-backs’ perspective they avoid a hearing where even if they had won they would have risked what they said in there weighing on Jackson during the year. Of course, clubs always prefer to settle before putting in all that work. Arbitration cases take an enormous amount of preparation and the D-backs were all but done with their work on the eve of the hearing.

— There will be fewer “B” games this year — maybe only one on March 4. That’s in part because the White Sox are no longer sharing the complex with the D-backs, but also because there are more spring games this year and fewer bodies once the WBC players leave on March 1.

— A happy anniversary to first-base coach Lorenzo Bundy and his lovely wife Lupita. The couple were married 18 years ago.

Lorenzo is one of the truly good guys in the game and he has worked hard and given much to get to where he is today.