Results tagged ‘ Clay Zavada ’

Zavada expected to return to camp

The agent for Clay Zavada says he expects the D-backs left-hander to be back in camp Tuesday or Wednesday.

Zavada did not show up for the club’s physical exams Sunday night and was not in attendance at the club’s first pitcher and catcher workout Monday.

Zavada’s agent, Barry Meister, said that Zavada experienced some discomfort in his shoulder and that was the reason for his absence.

“He just needed a couple of days to figure out what was going on with his shoulder,” Meister said.

Meister said that Zavada was going to see either the team’s training staff or team physician Michael Lee about his shoulder Tuesday and that he had talked to manager Kirk Gibson about his situation.

Notes from first pitcher catcher workout

46 days until Opening Day in Denver
11 days until first Spring Training game

Another beautiful day for baseball at Salt River Fields with temperatures again around 80 degrees and bright blue skies.

We’ve been told that players will be signing autographs each day around 11:50 a.m. local time. The club has gone out of its way to make sure fans are able to get up close with the players on the pathways between the fields. I also noticed today that the main stadium was open for fans to walk around and take a look at.

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Today’s stories:

Notes: Hudson healthy; Heilman eyes starting

Camp Gibby opens

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Turns out GM Kevin Towers misspoke Sunday when he said Zach Duke would be late to camp because his wife was due to give birth to the couple’s first child any day now.

Duke’s wife Kristin gave birth last Wednesday so Duke was there and threw a bullpen Monday.

You have to feel for him leaving his 3-day-old child behind to get on a plane for Arizona, but that’s sometimes what ballplayers have to go through as part of the job. For now, he will have to make do with Skype, something he says he’s been doing three times a day to see his baby Madison.

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Clay Zavada’s absence from camp seemed to catch everyone by surprise. Still not exactly sure what’s going on there. Towers said he had heard something about Zavada maybe not wanting to go “through this again” whatever that means.

When I talked to Zavada a couple of weeks ago he sounded pretty excited about the season so I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s something I’ll continue to follow and keep you updated.

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Seemed like there might be some progress on the Kelly Johnson front. The two sides have until Wednesday’s salary-arbitration hearing to reach a settlement.

Johnson’s agent is now in town and the dialogue has picked up between the two sides.

“Dialogue is better than no dialogue and over the last 48 hours we’ve had a lot more dialogue than we’ve had in the last two weeks so I look at that as a good sign,” Towers said.

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Catcher Miguel Montero made some interesting comments about the culture change in the clubhouse with the influx of veterans and Kirk Gibson taking over for A.J. Hinch as manager.

“The last two years we’ve been losing 90 games, and it seems like nothing happened,” said Montero. “I don’t think that is going to happen again. If we lose again, everybody is going to know that we lost a game. I think that’s what it means. And I like that idea, because I hate to lose. Period.”

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That’s all for today. I’ll be back at it bright and early Tuesday. Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @dbackswriter.

Some D-backs notes

A couple of small notes to get you caught up on the D-backs:

Over the weekend, the team outrighted pitchers Clay Zavada and Leo Rosales, which removed the pair from the 40-man roster.

Zavada did not make the team out of Spring Training last year and then underwent Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the rest of the season. The team will try and bring him back on a Minor League contract.

Rosales missed over three months in 2010 due to a stress fracture in his foot that required surgery. The right-hander compiled a 7.16 ERA this year.

In other news, the D-backs announced a couple of scouting hires today.

Bill Bryk and Todd Greene will join the staff as Major League scouts. In addition they will also likely be charged with keeping an eye on Arizona’s farm teams as well.

Bryk is a longtime associate of Towers and was the special assistant to the general manager/Major League scout in San Diego.

Greene, a former big league catcher, was most recently a Major League scout for the Mariners.

Thoughts from Maryvale

The D-backs won a pair of games today, 4-3 over the Royals in Surprise and 11-3 over the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Can’t speak to what happened against the Royals, but here are a couple of things that came out of the game in Maryvale:

– Ian Kennedy is ready for the season to start.

The right-hander was impressive once again holding Milwaukee to a pair of runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“Kennedy was good,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “He got better this spring from the first outing to the last.”

– It’s going to be hard to keep Jordan Norberto off this team.

I know, I know I thought as recently as the last few days that the team would almost have to start Norberto in the Minor Leagues to give him some additional experience. But the fact is he has outpitched the other competitors for a spot in the bullpen.

After missing a few days with some tightness in his elbow, he tossed a 1-2-3 inning against the Brewers. His ERA for the spring is 1.04.

“He didn’t miss a beat,” Hinch said. “We shut him down for a couple of days from pitching and he hit 96 on the radar gun so he looked fine to me. He’s very much in the mix.”

Clay Zavada will pitch Friday against the Cubs at Chase Field, but regardless, Norberto has really helped himself recently.

– Rusty Ryal certainly has made a case for himself.

Ryal was a triple away from hitting for the cycle Thursday and he raised his spring batting average to .288.

How the last two spots play out on the bench between Ryal, Tony Abreu and Ryan Roberts will be very interesting.

“He’s continuing to push to the end,” Hinch said of Ryal. “It’s a pretty heated battle there for the position players. Nobody is going to give on this one. We’ll just have to pull the trigger and make a decision.

Said Ryal, “It’s one of those things where you have no control over your situation you just have to do what you do and stay positive. I hope today wasn’t just the convincing factor in any sort of manner because I’ve put a lot of hard work in this spring extra that people don’t see. To be real honest with you I feel like I’ve done all that I can do as far as off the field stuff. My performance, it’s an opinion, it’s a decision they have to make. Today’s a positive, mark it down as a positive and go from there.”

– Hinch would like to see the offense pick it up.

Recently the D-backs struggled a little scoring runs after swinging the bats well earlier in camp.

“I’d like to be swinging the bats a little better heading into the season, but we’ll see,” Hinch said before they scored 11 against the Brewers. “Towards the end of spring, I don’t know if it’s a mental problem, or are we facing better pitchers, but on the optimistic side is we’re going to show up and be ready to go. Collectively as a group I’ve been happy with how we’ve swung the bats this spring. With where guys are individually heading into the season there’s a couple of guys I wish that were swinging the bats better, but there’s also the middle of our order has swung the bat very well.”

– OK, I lied. I’ll make one comment about the game in Surprise: You have to feel for Jeff Bailey.

The first baseman/outfielder came to camp mentioned as being on the outside of the competition for the final spot or two on the bench. He was told the other day that he was not going to make the club.

Thursday against the Royals, he was 3-for-3 to raise his average to .471.

D-backs hoping Mother Nature lets them play

The D-backs may have to battle Mother Nature on Thursday in addition to the Royals and Brewers.

Rain is forecast for the Valley throughout the day.

“What a terrible day for that too, we’re going to be all spread out all over the Valley,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve completely changed their workout across the street, Minor Leagues, and taken a lot of players for our benefit. Split squad late in the spring isn’t my favorite anyway.”

Edwin Jackson is slated to start against the Royals in Surprise, while Ian Kennedy is scheduled against the Brewers in Maryvale.

It’s important that Jackson in particular gets his work in. The right-hander is supposed to start Tuesday against the Padres so for him to stay on his regular turn he would need to throw Thursday.

Jackson’s regular turn would have been Wednesday, but Hinch did not want to give the Rockies an extra look at him so he was pushed to Thursday.

It is somewhat less urgent that Kennedy pitch, because he has an extra day built in to his schedule so he could pitch Friday and still be on regular rest for his first start of the regular season Wednesday.

“I’d like to keep Kennedy going,” Hinch said. “He’s on a roll. I’d like Jackson to get up to seven innings.”

There is a team function Thursday night at Chase Field so the field is not available to use for a simulated game either.

NORBERTO GOOD TO GO: Jordan Norberto played catch Wednesday and Hinch said he will pitch Thursday. The left-hander has been held out of action recently with tightness in his elbow.

SPEAKING OF NORBERTO: It looks like it could come down to he and Clay Zavada for a spot in the bullpen and Zavada did not help his case by walking the first batter he faced — to force in a run — Wednesday.

“He hasn’t had a good spring,” Hinch said. “He’s giving all he’s got, he’s trying, he wants to make this club, he’s coming off a very good year and he’s having a rough spring. It will down to the wire for all these decisions. He’s very much in the mix to make a team, but also guys are challenging for his roster spot so we’ll see on Saturday.”

Daily D-backs Wrap: March 27

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TODAY’S STORIES

Despite struggles at the plate, Miguel Montero remains confident
D-backs lose a pitcher’s duel to the Indians
Kennedy claims spot in rotation

CONGRATS TO KENNEDY: Ian Kennedy was told following Saturday’s game with the Indians that he had made the team.

Not a real surprise given not only the fact that they traded for him, but also because he’s pitched very well this spring.

About the only question is how many innings the D-backs will be able to get from someone who missed most of last season. It would not be surprising to see the team give him an extra day of rest here and there to try and keep that innings total down.

RIGHTING THE SHIP: While the day’s news belonged to Kennedy, the pitcher who may have helped himself out the most Saturday was reliever Clay Zavada, who has struggled throughout the spring.

The D-backs would really like to have a lefty in their bullpen and they are certainly tempted by the potential of Jordan Norberto, who has pitched better than anyone not named Juan Gutierrez this spring. The issue is the lack of experience for Norberto, but again he’s been so good that it’s not completely out of the question that he makes the team.

Anyway, Zavada had a much-needed 1-2-3 inning against the Indians.

“I’ve been battling,” Zavada said. “I’ve been working to get my tempo back and I’m starting to see better results. It’s been a bumpy road, it’s been tough. I’ve been working hard and I’m going to keep working hard.”

“It’s amazing what a clean inning can do for confidence,” Hinch said. “I think it was a good outing for him, for us.”

NOT SO GOOD NEWS: A.J. Pollock, the second of two first-round picks the D-backs in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft underwent surgery to repair a fractured elbow Friday.

The center fielder suffered the injury when he attempted to make a sliding catch during a Minor League game last week.

GM Josh Byrnes said Pollock could be out around two to three months.

“I’m glad he signed early and had a full summer last year and we’ll get him out there and then conceivably in the [Arizona] Fall League,” Byrnes said.

Signed out of the University of Notre Dame, Pollock is a polished player, who hit .271 last year at Class A South Bend and was expected to begin the 2010 season at high-A Visalia.

TUCSON APPRECIATION DAY: Sunday will be Tucson Appreciation Day when the D-backs play host to the Brewers. The festivities will commemorate the organization’s 13 years of Spring Training in Southern Arizona. All fans in attendance will receive a pennant honoring the D-backs’ Spring Training in Tucson.

It will be an important day for Lopez, who will get another chance to claim the No. 4 spot in the rotation. The D-backs will face left-hander Doug Davis, who pitched for them from 2007-09 before departing via free agency.

Daily D-backs Wrap: March 24

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TODAY’S STORIES

D-backs fall to White Sox
D-backs interest in Kelly Johnson goes way back
Upton sprains ankle in Wednesday’s game 

A.J. Hinch sounded a little exasperated.

With Opening Day less than two weeks away, there is still an opening for the No. 4 spot in the rotation as well as some spots at the back end of the bullpen.

“I’m waiting for one of those guys in the group either bullpen or the starters to come up and grab these spots,” the D-backs skipper said. “They’re open for the taking. I’m waiting for somebody to stand out above the rest. The group that’s competing for the last bullpen spots or the rotation it would be nice to get [someone] to win the job and stake their claim to the spot. It’s still wide open.”

Wednesday was Billy Buckner’s turn to impress and he was not able to make it out of the fourth inning as he allowed five runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings.

“He started out great and then he lost his delivery and got a little quick,” Hinch said. “He was trying to control the running game so it was the tale of two different outings. Early on I thought he was in command of the game and then it got away from him a little bit, that ran his pitch count up and he got in trouble.”

The other two contestants for the rotation spot — Kevin Mulvey and Rodrigo Lopez — threw in Minor League games Tuesday.

Lopez threw four innings while Mulvey pitched into the fifth before being hit with a comebacker. He was removed from the game after that as a precaution, but was not injured.

“They both threw well,” Hinch said. “Mulvey had a slightly better day than Lopez. They both got their work in and both got their pitch counts up.”

Yet neither put a choke hold on the job. Same deal Wednesday. All that was accomplished Wednesday is another day came off the calendar.

“That’s the way I felt like today was, nothing really gained by anybody,” Hinch said. “It’s close to the season so it’s time to move forward. There’s still a lot of time so I’m not overly concerned, but the outings are getting smaller and smaller by the day. I’m not frustrated as much as I’m eager for someone to win the job.”

As for the bullpen neither Clay Zavada nor Blaine Boyer pitched particularly well.

On the bright side, Aaron Heilman was sharp in his one inning of work and Zach Kroenke got the lone lefty he faced out. Leo Rosales also tossed a shutout inning.

BENSON START: A name to keep in mind for the rotation for when the D-backs need a fifth starter April 17 is Kris Benson, who was signed to a Minor League deal recently.

Hinch said he would like to see Benson in a Cactus League game at some point before the month is out.

UPTON OK?: Didn’t seem like too many people were worried about Upton’s ankle injury, a sign that it’s probably not very serious. Upton did not have any ice on it when he met with reporters and he seemed to be walking fine.

Hinch even said he had him penciled into the lineup for Thursday.

D-backs Daily: March 22

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TODAY’S STORIES

D-backs rally to beat the Padres in 10 innings
Brandon Allen keeps it all in perspective

NOTES AND OPINIONS

MUCH BETTER: Ian Kennedy was impressive against the Padres, allowing just two hits while throwing five scoreless innings.

Kennedy is not known as a strikeout pitcher, but he managed to fan eight without walking a batter. Throwing strikes was something he wanted to accomplish and he did that and then some.

“I just wanted to pound the zone early on,” he said. “Worked really well with Chris Snyder today. He called a great game.”

The D-backs had to be pleased to see Kennedy bounce back after struggling against the Angels in his previous outing last week.

“The outing in Tempe I just kind of took it as a bad day,” Kennedy said. “I tried to learn from it and move on.”

I don’t think there was much question that Kennedy was going to be part of the team’s rotation, but if there was, I would think that there is no longer any doubt that will be.

“Ian was really, really good,” Hinch said. “He had good rhythm, he had good command he had swing and miss type stuff. A great outing. He hasn’t pitched poorly but he hadn’t pitched a clean game.”

He sure did Monday.

NOT AS GOOD: The day did not go as well for pitchers Jordan Norberto and Esmerling Vasquez.

Norberto came into the game having not allowed a run in six innings, but he struggled with his command and walked three and allowed a hit in lasting just two-thirds of an inning. He allowed one run, which he forced in when he gave Yorvit Torrealba a free pass with the bases loaded.

“It was good to see him under a little duress,” Hinch said.

While there had been some talk of Norberto making the team out of Spring Training, I always got the impression that the organization wanted him to get a little more Minor League seasoning. After all, he has made just 16 appearances at the Double-A level.

I still think he will start the year in the Minor Leagues, though it’s not out of the question they could decide to keep him. He’s certainly been extremely impressive. Regardless if he pitches like he did early in camp, expect to see him at Chase Field at some point this year.

Vasquez, who had shown improvement in his past few outings got out of the bases loaded jam in the seventh, but got himself into trouble with walks as well. The right-hander walked three and gave up a pair of runs.

SPEAKING OF THE ROSTER: Hinch said Monday that he is likely to carry 12 pitchers to start the year with eight of them being relievers.

If you figure that four of those spot are locked up by Chad Qualls, Bob Howry, Juan Gutierrez, Aaron Heilman and the fifth is all but taken by Blaine Boyer than it leaves you with three spots open.

I have to think that at this moment, Leo Rosales is a front runner for one. The right-hander has pitched well for the most part this spring and he’s out of Minor League options.

That leaves a couple of spots and a number of different options with Vasquez, Clay Zavada, Norberto and Zach Kroenke still in the mix.

We’ll see how the last two weeks play out.

WEBB UPDATE: Nothing really new here. Webb played catch again Monday. Hinch said they are being extra cautious in building his arm strength so that he doesn’t plateau like he did earlier this month.

While they don’t want to put a timeframe on him, it certainly seems like 30 days is the minimum it would take for him to be ready after getting back on the mound. So if late-April is going to be realistic, he will need to take a step forward soon.

DOUBLING UP: The D-backs grounded into five double plays wiping out numerous scoring opportunities.

“I could have done without all the double plays,” Hinch said.

Tuesday’s off day could not come at a better time for the D-backs, who seem ready for a break.

AT THE TOP: Conor Jackson hit at the top of the order for the second day in a row and you get the feeling that Hinch is really warming to the idea of hitting him there to start the season.

It’s really an excellent idea given that it plays to Jackson’s strength (getting on base, working counts) and the team truly doesn’t have a prototypical option there.

GOING UPTOWN: I’m late to the party on this, I know, but have you seen what the organization has planned for the right-field bleachers this year?

TAKING OFF: Tuesday will be an off day for the D-backs so this blog will be dark for the day, but will be back up and running from Glendale on Wednesday.

Friday wrap: Montero saves Zavada’s outing

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TODAY’S ONLINE STORIES: Remember when the Jose Valverde trade to the Astros looked like a winner for Houston? How is it looking today?

The D-backs beat the A’s today.

The D-backs worked out free agent pitcher Kris Benson at their Minor League complex.

NARROW ESCAPE: Left-hander Clay Zavada had his best outing thus far tossing a scoreless inning. The left-hander walked the leadoff batter in the fourth, but got a double play ball and struck out Travis Buck to end the frame.

It’s been a challenging spring for Zavada, who is trying to work on his curveball to give himself another weapon against lefties while at the same time impressing the staff enough to win one of the final two spots in the bullpen.

It seems in his first two appearances this spring, Zavada was too quick to the plate, which threw off his mechanics and control.

According to Zavada, it was catcher Miguel Montero that got him back on track after the walk Friday.

“The first guy I just felt uncomfortable, but then Miggy came out and basically just calmed me down and said you’re not helping yourself here by trying to think because that’s not my thing,” Zavada said. “That was good coaching on his part. Miggy helped me out a lot. No doubt in my mind it would have been a bad outing if he hadn’t come out and said something to me. It was a positive outing and it could have been ugly.”

It seems he’s starting to get the feel for the breaking ball again.

“I threw a couple of good breaking balls,” Zavada said. “They weren’t way out there, they weren’t hitting the guy, they were down in the zone with good bend and I was real confident behind it, which helps. I wasn’t throwing it with confidence, that was my main thing and today I was.”

Hinch reminded Zavada after his outing not to put too much pressure on himself to be perfect

WORKING HARD: Ian Kennedy had a nice outing against the A’s, but it wasn’t easy.

The right-hander held the A’s to one hit and one walk over three innings, yet nearly ended up reaching his pitch count before he could get through the third. Manager A.J. Hinch said he told Kennedy before the third that he had just 10 pitches left.

After watching Kennedy get out of the inning without going over his limit, Hinch joked that they were going to tell him that before every inning from now on.

“I think I was probably trying to be too fine early on,” Kennedy said of why his pitch count got up there. “Like I would get guys with two strikes and then try to be a little too fine, make it a little too good. They were just taking, they had good eyes and made me throw a lot of pitches.”

Kennedy is a four-seam fastball guy who had fiddled with a two-seamer for a while before finally using it extensively in the Arizona Fall League last year. It was a pitch that worked well for him Friday.

“I feel pretty good with it,” Kennedy said. “I was curious to see how it was when games started, but it seems to still be there. That’s a pitch I need. You look at the best pitchers and they all have it. It’s just a pitch that saves you pitches later on in the game and can get you later in the game.”

So if you’re keeping track at home that means Kennedy’s arsenal includes a four-seamer, a two-seamer, a cut fastball, a curve and a change.

Now, Kennedy is still mainly going to throw his four-seamer, but he’s going to keep working on the two-seamer and he’d like Brandon Webb, who throws one of the best if not the best ones in the game, to show him how he throws his comebacker two-seamer that starts in on a left-hander’s hip and when they give up on it breaks over the inside corner for a strike.

Webb, you may remember, watched Greg Maddux use the pitch and decided to try throwing it and picked it up right away. Chances are it might take Kennedy a little more time.

CAN’T FORGET WEBBY: Webb played catch from about 140 feet and reported that it’s the best he’s felt. We’ll see how he progresses in the next few days, but he seemed very upbeat about it in the clubhouse afterwards.

A few notes from Thursday’s workout

Just a few extra notes from D-backs camp today…

– D-backs manager A.J. Hinch was impressed with what he saw out of pitchers Billy Buckner, Jordan Norberto and Kevin Mulvey while they were throwing live batting practice Thursday.

“Ball is coming out of his hand pretty well,” Hinch said of Mulvey. “He looks like his arm is in good shape.

“Buckner and Norberto probably threw the best two live BP sessions,” Hinch said.

– Norberto also caught the eye of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.

“Command, life, breaking ball, changeup, everything was in a tight zone,” Stottlemyre said. “He has a little different look to him this year in terms of confidence.”

Another young player that impressed was Bryan Shaw, a right-hander who was the club’s second-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

“Bryan Shaw really got his lower half in control, everything was down with good life,” Stottlemyre said. “It was good to see because he gets himself in trouble when he gets too quick, but we’ve been working on it and he carried it in today.”

– Clay Zavada threw some good curveballs during his batting practice session. His intensity during the session drew laughs from his teammates. Whether it’s batting practice or not, Zavada treats every time on the mound like it’s Game 7 of the World Series.

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