Results tagged ‘ Mark Reynolds ’

Thursday game notes

Here are some notes from the D-backs 11-1 loss to the Rockies in the Cactus League opener Thursday at Tucson Electric Park:

SLOPPY PLAY: The D-backs didn’t look like a team that had spent extra time on fundamentals and team defense with some lapses in the 11-1 loss to the Rockies.

“You have a sun ball, you have a misplay on a ball back to the pitcher,” Hinch said. “We couldn’t close out innings, they scored a lot of two-out runs. So in the context of the game they did a lot right. In the context of how we did, it’s Day One and I’ll look at some good things and a couple of things we’ll address tomorrow.”

CUT ME: Starter Billy Buckner allowed a pair of first-inning runs, but the right-hander had an impressive cut fastball on the day. Buckner said he threw four or five of them and got swings and misses on every one.

“I thought he rebounded pretty well after a rough start,” Hinch said. “He just couldn’t get out of the first inning, but he bounced back with a nice inning in the second inning which showed me a little something. Pitch down and pitch to contact are the two things that I would take away from today [for him].”

IMPRESSIVE: Reliever Leo Rosales, who is competing for one of the final bullpen spots, got three comebackers in the ninth inning.

All three of the outs came on his signature changeup.

“I was just trying to locate down in the zone,” Rosales said. “They were swinging the bat today so it was important for me to pound the zone at the knees.”

Rosales is out of Minor League options and would need to be placed on waivers if the team tries to send him to Triple-A Reno at the end of the spring.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Hinch plans on playing shortstop Stephen Drew and newly-acquired second baseman Kelly Johnson together as often as possible this spring to help them get comfortable with one another.

“Obviously there’s the feeds and turns, communication throughout the game on who has the bag and learning any odds and ends or quirks,” Hinch said. “Mostly it’s the turns and the tweener balls up the middle that both can get to, popup communication, things like that that are very easy to talk about in a clubhouse, but then when game speed picks up and instincts take over that’s when you see guys that haven’t played together. Timing of when to get the ball to each other on double plays is probably the most significant play that needs to be practiced. You can do all the drills you want until the game speed that’s where you really find out.”

12 AND 13? STAY TUNED: Hinch said he had not decided yet whether the team would carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers at the start of the year.

“I think that’s a good question at the end of camp,” Hinch said. “One of the advantages we have is that almost all the guys that are in these competitions have [Minor League] options so the roster flexibility at the end of camp will be pretty good.”

HUSH HUSH: Unlike past years, the D-backs will not announce starting lineups a day or two in advance. Third baseman Mark Reynolds and first baseman Adam LaRoche, though, are expected to start Friday.

FRIDAY PITCHING: Dan Haren will start against the Cubs. Wes Roemer, Clay Zavada, Jordan Norberto, Bryan Shaw, Esmerling Vasquez and Aaron Heilman are also scheduled to pitch.

SATURDAY PITCHING: Edwin Jackson makes his Diamondback debut against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Others slated to see action include Bryan Augenstein, Kyler Newby, Jose Marte, Roque Mercedes, Blaine Boyer and Juan Gutierrez.

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.”

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.

Reynolds injury not serious

Mark Reynolds left Thursday’s game with some tightness in his right ribcage area, but the injury is not thought to be serious.

Reynolds said he first felt the tightness when he charged Andy LaRoche’s grounder and made an awkward throw to first in the eighth and aggravated it a bit in the top of the ninth when he hit the deck getting out of the way of a Matt Capps fastball.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” Reynolds said. “I’m feeling fine, got some treatment and I told [manager A.J. Hinch] I’m ready to go tomorrow. I should be good. I won’t miss any time.”

Reynolds is hitting .284 with 33 homers and 76 RBIs this year.

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.”

Opening Day thoughts

Baseball is such a game of routine, a marathon rather than a sprint. That’s why Opening Day is so different. There’s bunting hanging all around the stadium, big pregame ceremonies, everything is fresh, the day seems to move quickly.

That’s a really long and non-poetic way of explaining why I am posting some Opening Day thoughts today rather than last night after the game. If any of you have thoughts you like to share, please post them in the comments below or email me and I’ll post them here for you. I really would like for this to be an interactive blog this year.

Now, back to Opening Day:

— Tough spot for the D-backs to be in with regards to the roof being open or closed. I think everyone agrees the ballpark looks much nicer and has a better feel to it when the roof is open. I would have loved for it to have been open yesterday, but the press box is in the shade and I don’t pay to get into the ballpark so I tend to think my opinion on that subject means far less than someone who not only buys a ticket, but has to sit directly in the sun.

— Bob Melvin looked like a genius on Day One by starting Tony Clark at first base. More significant, at least to me, is that Melvin right off the bat laid down the law as far as how things are going to work this year. No longer will playing time just be given to players, it will have to be earned. And on a given day if the matchups call for a change, he’s going to make it.

— On that same subject, Mark Reynolds should have done better than “no comment” when asked about sitting on Opening Day. Look, I like Reynolds a lot. I think he’s a good guy, a good player and someone who really works hard and wants to do well more than fans may realize. And I also know that it had to hurt not starting yesterday, but for his teammates he should have done what Justin Upton did and give a politically correct response of he would like to play and was disappointed, but understands the manager wants to do what he thinks is best.

His no comment said far more than I am sure he intended.

— I don’t know what to make of Webb’s comments about his shoulder being stiff. No one seemed overly concerned yesterday, though his velocity did seem down a bit. It’s something that we will have to keep an eye on in the coming days.

— Tony Pena was to me a guy that flew under the radar in this one. Shutting things down in the seventh and then getting through the eighth was huge not just in the game, but also for Pena’s confidence.

Pena is a sensitive kid who can get down on himself when he does not pitch well and as we’ve seen that can spiral on him. He was beaming in the clubhouse after the game and that certainly is encouraging.

— I wrote it before Spring Training and then again during it, but Chad Tracy is going to have a big year. He looks a lot better at the plate now that he has two healthy legs.

— Felipe Lopez sure did what he could to help fans forget Orlando Hudson with a pair of homers.

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.

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.

Challenge for Reynolds

I wrote a story the other day about Mark Reynolds and how he is working to cut down his strikeouts and errors.

It occurs to me that the biggest battle Reynolds is going to face in doing so is going to be mental more than physical. That was clear early in the first Cactus League game of the spring when he struck out and a fan yelled from the crowd, “Here we go again Reynolds. It’s starting already.”

Look, Reynolds is going to strikeout a bunch. It’s the nature of the way his swing is and the tremendous power that he has. The idea is to limit the amount to non-record breaking levels. So it can’t be that every time he strikes out this year it’s looked at like a tremendous failure of some sort otherwise things could easily spiral back out of control.

You can’t help but root for a guy like Reynolds. He’s a hard worker and a nice person. He easily could have asked to be kept out of the lineup late last year as a way of trying to avoid setting the strikeout mark, but he never did that.

Reynolds is tough mentally in terms of his ability to play with pain. The bigger challenge this year for him will be to be strong mentally when it comes to the strikeouts.