Results tagged ‘ Dan Haren ’

Wednesday wrapup

Here’s a link to today’s story in which Stephen Drew opens up about some of the off-field struggles he went through in 2009. It’s early in spring, but he’s really swung the bat well thus far.

Also did a short story on the debut of first-round pick A.J. Pollock.

– Bizarre happening during today’s game when there was a snafu with the Dodgers lineup. You can read Doug Miller’s story about it.

– Dan Haren was pleased with his outing today against the Dodgers. The right-hander gave up four hits over 2 2/3 innings and wanted to finish the third, but he had reached his pitch count so manager A.J. Hinch took him out in favor of Bob Howry.

Haren threw his first split-finger fastballs of the spring during the outing.

“Last time out I felt OK but I didn’t feel great,” said Haren, who threw 49 pitches. “I felt the ball was coming out of my hand a little better today. I used more off-speed stuff. And my fastball felt like it had a little bit of life to it. I’m still not out there max effort but overall I felt really good.”

– Another positive was the performance of closer Chad Qualls, who thus far this spring has not shown any ill effects from last season’s knee injury/surgery.

Qualls got all three batters he faced in the fifth to ground out.

“When Qualls is getting groundballs he’s right where he needs to be,” Hinch said.

– Hinch said before the game that he plans on having Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero catch back-to-back games over in Minor League camp before they do it in Cactus League games.

For right now, Hinch has alternated using the pair behind the plate and at the DH spot so that they can keep sharp at the plate without being taxed behind it.

– Gerardo Parra started in center against the Dodgers, something you could see a lot of this spring. Depending on who wins the final bench spot, Parra could wind up being the lone backup to Chris Young at that position.

Two players battling for the final roster spot — Drew Macias and Cole Gillespie — can both play center.

Notes from Friday’s game

Hard to know what was the bigger news today. On the one hand you had D-backs GM Josh Byrnes saying that it was possible Brandon Webb would start the year on the DL and then there was Mark Reynolds saying that talks on a possible contract extension were a distraction.

Here are a look at a few other notes from the day:

NICE START: Dan Haren tossed a pair of hitless innings against the Cubs, allowing just one walk while throwing 20 pitches.

A 1-2-3 quick first inning raised some concerns in the Arizona dugout that he might not get up to his pitch count in his two scheduled innings.

A walk to begin the second, though, allowed him to throw some extra pitches.

“It feels weird, it’s been a long time,” Haren said of getting back out on the mound. “To go out there and compete again is nice. I’ve got a long ways to go, but I’m happy with the way it started. I don’t necessarily put in 100 percent effort, I’m working more mechanics and you know getting a feel for all my pitches. I’m definitely where I want to be, but that being said I still have a long way to go.”

Haren threw some fastballs, cutters and curves, but did not throw his split.

“I’ll definitely throw a few next time and keep working on it on the side,” Haren said. “The goal is by the time April rolls around to have all my pitches feel crisp and ready.”

KEEP AN EYE ON HIM: I still think Rusty Ryal has a real good shot of winning that final spot on the bench. Hinch plans on playing him at second and third and he showed during a stint in the Dominican Republic during the winter that he could play left field.

Ryal’s versatility plus the pop he has in his bat should play in his favor.

“I don’t know if anybody outworks him,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s just continued to get better and improve himself at the plate. His strike zone discipline has gradually gotten better, the authority with which he swings the bat has gotten better. He’s forced himself onto the map as far as being an offensive threat at the Major League level. For him now exposing him at different defensive spots is going to be important to have him make the team and if continues to advance offensively you’ve got a nice player on your hands.”

NOW PLAYING SHORTSTOP: When he was acquired last year, Tony Abreu was expected to be the team’s starting second baseman in 2010. Then Kelly Johnson was non-tendered by the Braves and those plans changed.

Now Abreu finds himself competing for the final spot on the bench as a utility infielder. With that in mind, look for him to see some time at short and third as well as second this spring. He started at shortstop Friday against the Cubs and also played there in relief of Stephen Drew on Thursday.

“I’m interested to see how he looks at shortstop,” Hinch said. “He hasn’t played a ton of shortstop. It’s what he’s played the least. Part of the early part of spring is exposing to these guys to maybe a little bit of outside their comfort zone and see how they respond.”

THAT’S MORE LIKE IT: The D-backs played a much crisper game defensively against the Cubs after a sloppy 11-1 loss to the Rockies on Thursday.

“I think yesterday’s game was a little disappointing for everyone to be honest with you,” Haren said. “Not that we’re necessarily trying to win or lose, but we’re not trying to lose that’s for sure. Last spring we didn’t really play that well and I think it kind of trickled into the season. [Today] has been a pretty clean game and that’s more of the game we’re trying to play.”

BACK IN ACTION: Catcher Chris Snyder saw his first action since having surgery on his back last September. Snyder caught four innings.

“He came out of hit fine and he’ll catch again Sunday,” Hinch said.

GAME NOTES: Center fielder Gerardo Parra made a nice throw in the bottom of the fifth to nail a runner trying to tag up from third in the bottom of the fifth.

Justin Upton blasted a grand slam off the scoreboard in the fifth.

“I thought that was going over the scoreboard,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Upton’s homer. “That’s a long wallop. Upton is going to hit a home run off anybody.”

Ryan Roberts and Cole Gillespie also homered for the D-backs.

It was a rough day for Aaron Heilman, who allowed four runs on five hits in one inning of work.

By contrast young hurlers Wes Roemer, Jordan Norberto and Bryan Shawn all pitched well.

Friday scribblings from D-backs camp

A little bit of a late start for the D-backs today as they had their annual meeting with the Players Association in the morning.

– Tony Abreu left camp on Friday to attend to a family issue, but is not expected to miss much time and could be back as soon as Saturday.

– Brandon Webb had a “really good” long-toss session Friday according to pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.

One of the issues that Webb has faced in his comeback is getting his timing/mechanics down. One trick that Stottlemyre tried with him Friday that paid dividends was rolling the ball to him before he threw, that way he had his feet moving and that prompted him to get his arm up and into the right position quicker.

All three bullpen sessions Webb has thrown so far this spring have been separate from his teammates, but he’s feeling good enough now that he’s going to throw his next session Sunday with the other pitchers.

– Third baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielder Justin Upton wore wireless mics for a Major League Baseball Productions feature.

“I don’t think I’ve said anything interesting,” Reynolds said near the end of the workout.

– Dan Haren looked sharp while throwing a live batting practice session.

“He was painting as usual,” Reynolds said alluding to Haren’s pinpoint control even this early in camp.

For Haren the session helped jump start where his progress this spring.

“I was getting to a lull period where I was getting to the point where I needed to be,” Haren said. “It’s amazing you get a hitter standing in there and the adrenaline pumping and everything seemed right. I’m happy with the way today went.”

Each year Haren tries to work on something to improve and try and get better. One thing is trying to improve his second halves which have caused him some issues the past couple of years.

“I’m going to do a little more maintenance stuff during the season and try to be better toward the end,” Haren said. “Hopefully I’ll get off to a good start, I’ve had the ability to do that the last few years and just keep that momentum throughout and hopefully come the second half we’re playing for something and that always makes it easier.”

That Haren has had some good stretches in the second half is proof to him that it’s not a physical issue.

“It’s definitely not a fatigue thing,” he said. “It’s the ability to bounce back after a rough one and some of it can be mental more than physical because my stuff is there at the end of the year. You get hit around one or two times in the big leagues it’s not easy to get out there that third time. You lose a little bit of confidence.”

Talking baseball gloves

Some baseball players will use their gloves for years. Shortstop Stephen Drew was oiling down his game glove Thursday morning, because if he doesn’t the six-year-old glove will crack. In fact, there are some cracks and even holes in it, but it’s broken in just the way he likes it and so he’s not changing.

It’s a little different for Chris Snyder. As a catcher his gloves take more abuse than any others so he switches his gloves out each year.

Snyder has two gloves he keeps ready (see pictures below).  He has his game glove, which he typically starts using in August of a season and his backup which bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas helps him break in so that it’s ready to take over in August.

Snyder oils his gloves more than most people do, which makes them very soft.

“Some pitchers complain that my glove doesn’t pop when the ball hits it,” Snyder said.

Count Dan Haren among the group that teases Snyder for that.

“It’s like a Tempur-Pedic pillow,” Haren said of the glove.

Here’s Snyder’s gamer glove and below it a look at both gloves, the new one on the left.

Snyder gamer glove.JPG

Snyder 2 gloves.JPG

Webb or Haren for the opener?

I read with interest Nick Piecoro’s story in The Arizona Republic yesterday about whether Brandon Webb or Dan Haren would start on Opening Day.

Like Nick I have tried to get D-backs skipper A.J. Hinch to answer that question, but he has decided to wait until Friday to make his decision public. No doubt he has probably talked to both pitchers about it by now, or at least he will have by the time he meets with the media Friday afternoon.

I have no inside information, but I’m going to guess that Hinch will choose Webb. I don’t think it would be wrong for him to pick either one of them and he may very well go with Haren, but something tells me that he will go with Webb.

Really, once the first game is out of the way it really doesn’t matter who the Opening Day starter is as rotations get jumbled up pretty good over the course of 162 games. It is, however, considered an honor to start the opener.

Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section as to who you would start April 5.

Notes from Chase Field

They allowed us in to watch the D-backs workout today at Chase Field. A few notes of interest:

– Mark Reynolds talked about the possibility of a contract extension being worked out. Wrote quite a bit about that here. If you want to read about managing general partner Ken Kendrick’s feelings on multi-year deals, check the bottom of this story from earlier in the week.

– Brandon Webb had another throwing session. Nothing seems new since the last time I caught up with him. He is still on pace to throw off the mound for the first time Tuesday. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. is coming in town to observe the session.

Overall Webb said he remains encouraged and still thinks he will be ready to go come Opening Day.

– Reynolds has the initials JAR stitched into his glove. They are for his son Jacob Andrew Ryan, who was born Oct. 16. Andrew is apparently a big name in the Reynolds family as Mark and his father among others have it as their middle name.

– Speaking of new arrivals, the Haren’s had a little girl just a couple of weeks ago. Ella Dani Haren. Ella is doing well, but dad is a little short on sleep these days.

– Conor Jackson said he planned on wearing a t-shirt this spring that reads “I feel good”. How he’s doing is on a lot of people’s minds after he missed most of last season with Valley Fever. Through Instructional League last fall and winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Jackson says he has felt good.
 

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.”

Haren’s frustration

Couple of quick thoughts about Dan Haren’s display of frustration in the Arizona dugout last night after being removed for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning:

– You have admire his honesty after the game in saying point blank that he’s frustrated with being 0-3. He didn’t try to obfuscate at all. We always appreciate Haren’s interviews because he gives thoughtful answers and really tries to avoid cliches.

He also went out of his way to say that his intention was not to show up manager Bob Melvin in any way.

– You can understand his frustration. His team has scored a total of one run in his three starts. That’s simply unbelievable. There’s no question he should be sitting with a 3-0 record right now instead of 0-3.

– All that being said, it was something that never should have happened, because regardless of his intent he did show up Melvin as well as his teammates.

While Haren has a right to be frustrated, he’s not the only one that is feeling that right now in that clubhouse. Think the hitters are happy with the way things have gone. They have been awful, they know it, and they absolutely would like to be doing better.

And how about Melvin? This is his team. Think he likes watching the way the first 10 games of the season has gone? Think he would have liked to have thrown a few helmets or slammed a few bats after watching the losses pile up?

Like I said, this is not meant to be a rip at Haren. He’s a hard worker, a good teammate and a good guy who just got caught up in the moment. I would be willing to bet it’s something you will not see from him again.

Bonus notes

Here are some additional notes from Friday:

– Justin Upton played in a game over at Minor League camp today. No report yet on how he did.

As for why they sent him over there for some at-bats, manager Bob Melvin said that they wanted to give him some ABs in a less pressurized situation. Upton has been struggling at the plate this spring and though he does not lose confidence when he struggles, he does tend to get angry. Then things feed on themselves and snowball.

“Some guys handle not being successful differently,” Melvin said. “I’d rather he get angry then down on himself.”

– Here’s how you know a pitcher had a tremendous outing: he is the one that has to tell the media afterward that he really did make some mistakes during the game.

That’s the position that Dan Haren was in after striking out 10 Angels in seven innings on Friday.

“Obviously good results,” he said. “But more importantly I got my pitch count up and got up and down seven times.”

Haren threw 93 pitches and the team will likely back that number down a bit in his final spring outing on April 1 so that he is fresh for his first start of the year on April 7 against the Rockies.

The D-backs are slated to face the Brewers in Maryvale on April 1, but it’s possible Haren could throw in a Minor League game that day.

– Ryan Roberts will start behind the plate in a Minor League game on Saturday and James Skelton will get a look in the outfield.

D-backs vs. Giants rotations

Got an email this morning asking me which team had a better starting rotation, the D-backs or Giants?

Tough to beat a one-two punch of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren and Max Scherzer in the fifth spot has a chance to really be good, though, he still has to show it for a full season.

Let’s take it on a spot-by-spot look:

Webb vs. Tim Lincecum: Pretty even match here, though if you want to give a slight edge to Lincecum I can understand.

Haren vs. Matt Cain: Cain’s got a load of talent, but I think if you have to choose between the two for this year, Haren’s got to be the guy.

Doug Davis vs. Randy Johnson: If RJ is healthy he would have to get the edge in this spot, but health is an issue.

Jon Garland vs. Barry Zito: I think Garland’s consistency wins out among these two.

Scherzer vs. Jonathan Sanchez: Maybe you look at this as a wash right now, but given Scherzer’s potential, I would take him.

It’s an interesting question and I am curious to see what you guys think.

Update: I neglected to mention that my pick would be the D-backs, but not by a lot. San Francisco’s rotation will certainly be a big positive  this year. However, that offense…well, we’ll see.

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