Results tagged ‘ Jordan Norberto ’

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.

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.

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.

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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