Results tagged ‘ Chris Young ’

Lineups, links and the Duke

32 days until Opening Day

When we were talking to him about possible lineup combinations the other day Kelly Johnson said he thought the first decision the team has to make is where to hit center fielder Chris Young. Once that is decided the rest of the decisions will fall more easily in place.

Couldn’t agree more with Kelly. I know there has been a lot of talk about Young hitting leadoff, but I think he’s a better fit in the No. 5 hole with Johnson leading off.

Drew would seem to be a good fit in the second spot, but I know some are concerned about having back-to-back lefties at the top of the order. That could mean that maybe Melvin Mora would be the No. 2 hitter, but we will have to wait and see.

“I think we’re going to use the spring, I think you’re going to see a lot of different lineups,” GM Kevin Towers told us yesterday. “I’m sure you’ll see CY leading off at times, Kelly leading off at times. Is Mora a two-hole hitter or someone deeper in the order? I think you’ll see probably a lot of different lineups throughout the spring just to get a feel for what guys can do in certain situations and maybe what works best. I think it’s too early to determine who hits where.”

Too early to determine, sure, but never too early to speculate.

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Towers also talked about why Zach Duke was attractive to the D-backs even though he was coming off a disappointing season in Pittsburgh.

“Sometimes a change of scenery is good,” Towers said. “It kind of re-energizes you and gives you a chance to clean the slate and start anew. I like left-handed pitching, I like athletes. His stuff really didn’t deteriorate over the last couple years. He had a down year last year, but if he had a good year we wouldn’t have had an opportunity to get him.”

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Want to make a Towers pitching staff? Then you had better darn well throw strikes — that means you Jordan Norberto.

The talented left-hander walked a pair in his first spring outing displaying the trouble that has kept him from establishing himself at the big league level.

“It’s like his pet peeve,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s told you guys he has no use for that. If you can’t control the zone it’s going to be a long year.”

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Here is a personal guarantee from me: After every one of his starts this year, Ian Kennedy will find a way to get the word “battle” into his postgame press conference.

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Joe Paterson was selected in the Rule 5 Draft with the idea he would be the team’s left-handed specialist, but during the spring he will face righties as well as lefties.

Paterson was impressive in striking out the right-handed hitting Pablo Sandoval on Sunday. Hard to see him having much long-term success against righties given his sidearm mechanics.

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If you haven’t checked out my colleague Nick Piecoro’s story on Josh Collmenter, it’s definitely worth a read. Very interesting how he thinks he developed his funky delivery.

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Saturday’s wrapup on the D-backs

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TODAY’S STORIES:

Chris Snyder feels he has something to prove this year.
D-backs beat the Dodgers, 7-3, in front of a sellout crowd at TEP.
Walks hurt RHP Kevin Mulvey on Saturday.

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.

Saturday wrapup

First things first, here are links to a couple of stories from today:

Webb urges patience in judging rehab

Reynolds contract talks continue

Remember you can follow me on Twitter for the latest updates

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.”

Monday notes from D-backs camp

Today’s main story was on Chris Young and all the work he put in during the offseason.

For all the latest updates on practice times and other news, please follow me on Twitter.
– There was plenty of sun Monday, but the weather still delayed things as the D-backs had to wait more than an hour to get started in the morning due to wet fields.

“We practiced our rain delay today,” manager A.J. Hinch said jokingly.

The D-backs were able to get in all their work with just a few grumbles about the long day. There will be one more session of live batting practice Tuesday and Wednesday they will look to go through their workouts over at Tucson Electric Park in anticipation of Thursday’s opener.

– Hinch announced that Rodrigo Lopez, who is battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, will start Monday’s game against the Indians as well as the March 14 game in Hermosillo, Mexico.

– D-backs special assistant to the GM Bob Gebhard has been back in camp after suffering a heart attack last week.

Taking a couple of days off was all Gebhard could manage. In fact, he tried to convince his doctor to let him go back to the office the day he was released from the hospital after having a pair of stents put in.

– Seems like the most asked question has moved on from Hinch’s relative lack of experience in the dugout to how he is going to handle his catching corps.

To restate, Miguel Montero is the starter heading into camp, but Hinch says that doesn’t mean that Chris Snyder is going to be buried on the bench. He is reluctant to get into how much playing time each is going to get, but says it will not be a strict platoon situation.

Hinch said pitchers would not have “personal catchers” and it will be interesting to see how that plays out with Brandon Webb, who is used to having Snyder catch him. The two have a very close relationship and Webb relies on Snyder game-calling ability.

D-backs react to comments by Reynolds

DENVER — One day after first baseman Mark Reynolds called out his teammates for a lack of effort, the D-backs seemed to be a team with some internal turmoil.

D-backs manager A.J. Hinch left second baseman Felipe Lopez and center fielder Chris Young out of the starting lineup, but was not specific about whether he did it to send a message about a lack of effort.

When asked if anything should be read into who was in the lineup and who was not, Hinch said, “It’s your call.”

It sure seemed like Hinch was trying to send a message because while a manager generally will not say he is sending a message, if he is not he usually makes it pretty clear that he’s not.

Meanwhile in the clubhouse, Reynolds stuck behind his prior comments.

“I had cameras in my face nine minutes after the game and I was real mad about how we played, about a lot of stuff,” Reynolds said Saturday. “Stuff came out pretty hot, but everything that I said I felt needed to be said.”

What’s interesting is that Reynolds chose to share his feelings about his teammates to the media rather than address them during one of the many meetings the team has had where players have spoken or directly to the player or players he thought were responsible.

“When we have team meetings I don’t say anything,” Reynolds said. “I don’t have a lot of time in this game. I just haven’t felt like it was my place, but like I said I was pretty hot last night and when you’re upset and you have things on your mind and you have an outlet to say it, it just all boiled over.”

Count catcher Chris Snyder among those that was in agreement with Reynolds had to say.

“Everything that was said was dead on,” Snyder said. “I think there’s a lack of a lot of things. The main thing being heart. Guys around feel like they should be owed something, everything should be given to them, they don’t have to fight, they don’t have to compete. They just go out there, put a smile on their face on every first and 15th of the month and other than that it’s ho hum. Winning doesn’t matter as long as they get to the first and 15th they’ll be happy.

“You can’t play that way and expect to compete. We lack certain things, heart being one, at certain times brains and more times than not guts. Those are three things that are needed to win.”

Snyder, who is on the disabled list with a lower back problem, was asked if he had expressed that to his teammates.

“I’ve been quiet,” he said. “I’ve been real quiet because I’m at the point where I’m tired of saying. It’s time to do. You can say all you want. Right now I can’t do so I’m not going to say. There’s been enough saying.”

Young took the opposite approach and instead defended his teammates and by extension, himself.

“I care, the guys in the clubhouse care,” Young said. “We don’t like losing, we’re not accepting losing. It’s not something where we’re going out there, we’re not lacking effort. It may look like that if you watch the game, I’m in the outfield, I know what it looks like. It looks like guys aren’t giving effort, but that’s not the case.

“Everybody is busting it. Everybody wants to win. Nobody in our clubhouse is accepting losing, is taking the year and going through the motions. I don’t know how people are reacting to the comments Mark said or how the fans are taking it. I just want to make it clear that we’re busting our butts, nobody’s slacking. Guys want to win and guys care. Everyone is just trying to find their own way to make it happen.”

Ace Dan Haren was asked if he thought that effort was the issue.

“I don’t know if it’s a mental thing,” Haren said. “It’s hard for me to judge that. But like I said after starts I can look in the mirror and tell myself that I’ve given that effort and I hope that everyone else can.”

Listening to Young, though, it sounded like there was plenty of caring in the clubhouse.

“There’s plenty of guys in this clubhouse that don’t sleep at night because we don’t win ballgames,” Young said. “There are plenty guys who are [mad] when we have a sloppy inning. There’s plenty of guys who are angry when we lose consecutive games, when we don’t win a series. Our entire clubhouse cares.”

It’s hard to know where the D-backs go from here. Maybe Reynolds’ comments will prove to by a catalyst. It appears as though the meetings have not helped and the team has a worse record since the managerial change so that was not a cure all either.

“Who knows what the next step is,” Snyder asked before answering his own question. “Grow up, be a man.”

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.

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.”

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.

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