Results tagged ‘ Miguel Montero ’

Breakfast with Miggy

43 days until Opening Day
8 days until first Spring Training game

Greetings from Salt River Fields where the D-backs will be on field practicing from 9:30-11:50 a.m. this morning and signing autographs as they start to filter off the field around 11:20 a.m.

The work, though, gets started long before 9:30 here. Manager Kirk Gibson has been known to get here as early as 5 a.m. and his coaches are not that far behind him. I showed up around 7 today and there were players who had been here for a while already and gotten in their morning warm up workout.

Something I noticed a couple of days ago was Miguel Montero walking around with a little tray of food. It looked like one of those frozen dinners.

Finally had to ask him about it today and it turns out he is working at improving his eating so he has meals specially prepared and shipped to him. As he headed in to heat up his breakfast he allowed me to snap a quick picture (see the bottom of this post).

Doesn’t look like a lot of food for a guy Miggy’s size, but what I know about nutrition you could fit in a thimble.

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In case you missed this story yesterday, you might want to take a peek at Kelly Johnson’s quotes about last season. Sounds like the second baseman was pretty unhappy with the mood in the clubhouse and the team’s mental approach last year.

Seems to speak to the reason the organization felt the culture in the clubhouse had to be changed this year.

Miggy breakfast.JPG

D-backs Daily: March 21

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TODAY’S STORIES

D-backs fall to Giants, 4-3 for fourth straight defeat
Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson work on getting to know each other

When you think of leadoff hitters, you typically think of someone who is fast.

In the National League, though, the job description is a little different, at least in D-backs manager A.J. Hinch’s mind.

That’s because with the pitcher in the lineup a lot of times he sacrifices a runner into scoring position and then who follows him? The leadoff guy.

“He can be a run producer as well,” Hinch said. “I don’t think we have a traditional leadoff hitter on our so I’m going to be creative.”

Along those lines, Hinch decided to get a look at Conor Jackson in the leadoff spot for the first time Sunday.

In 2008, the last time he was healthy, Jackson led the team in on-base percentage and on the team right now, no one works the count as well as he did.

I like the idea of Jackson in the No. 1 spot, because not only does he get on base, see pitches and work counts, he is not a base-clogger. He’ll never be confused with Rickey Henderson on the bases, but he runs well enough and will steal a few bags.

Hinch said he might try Jackson in the leadoff spot again. Given the alternatives, I’d sure like to see him do that.

BETTER: Edwin Jackson was better Sunday than he had been in his previous outing when he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.

Good, not great.

“Obviously the walks killed him,” Hinch said.

Jackson walked Aarond Rowand to start the game and then hit Andres Torres with a pitch before allowing a three-run homer to John Bowker.

Jackson said he had some trouble settling into a rhythm, but once he did he pitched pretty well the rest of the way getting in five innings.

“To get through five the way it started was pretty successful,” Hinch said.

Here’s a photo from today…

View from press box.JPG

MENTAL MISCUES: Hinch was not pleased with some mental mistakes made by his squad Sunday including the final play when Ryan Roberts, who represented the tying run, was thrown out to end the game trying to stretch a double into a triple.

There were a couple of positioning mistakes and Miguel Montero did not get to second on a fly ball that was dropped.

“That’s the disappointing part of today,” Hinch said of the mental errors adding that while he didn’t want to make too big of a deal about them they will be addressed.

NO WORRIES: Talked to Chad Qualls before the game about his outing the other day against the Royals in which he allowed six runs and lasted just one-third of an inning.

“I got the pitcher out,” Qualls said.

Qualls can joke, because other than that outing he has pitched well this spring (he had a 1-2-3 inning Sunday) and most importantly he has experienced no ill effects from surgically repaired left knee.

“I’m lucky enough that I can flush that one [bad outing] down the toilet and get after it today,” he said.

MAKE SOME NOISE: It started out with Hinch telling his backups during a game to get in there and “make some noise.”

And it’s now progressed to the “Hyena Club” because well hyenas make plenty of noise. There’s a picture up in the clubhouse (see below) of real-life hyenas with the club members listed. They are Cole Gillespie, Gerardo Parra, Ed Rodgers, Evan Frey, Rusty Ryal, Brandon Allen, Augie Ojeda, Ryan Roberts, John Hester, Tony Abreu, Drew Macias, Jeff Bailey and Sean Coughlin.

Hyena Club.JPG

“B” TEAM: The Giants had only one projected Opening Day starter in their lineup Sunday and they pitched Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in a Minor League game in Scottsdale rather than have him make the trip to Tucson.

“With the Tucson trip you’re never really surprised by anything,” Hinch said. “It’s probably more disappointing for the fans.”

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.

March 11 Wrap

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Here’s a look at today’s stories: A Brandon Webb update, D-backs sign or renew all 22 pre-arbitration players and beat the Angels 4-1.

Really there’s nothing new in the Webb story, nothing that has not been obvious for the better part of the last week and that is that it is unlikely that he will be able to start the third game of the season.

Now look, that doesn’t mean that he won’t be able to start soon after that, it doesn’t mean there’s something further wrong with his shoulder and it certainly is not time to panic about his availability for the long haul of the season.

The man is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had not thrown off a mound for the better part of 11 months. There were bound to be some hiccups along the way. This was never going to be smooth sailing.

Let’s see what happens over the next week or so. It sure sounds like he just needs to get over the hump or plateau that he’s at right now (and by the way I’ve used the word “stagnant” in my stories more in the past week than I previously had used in my entire career). If he’s able to get over that hump/off that plateau/unstagnanted it could be a quick progression for him. If not…well there’s plenty of time to delve into what that means for the team.

I know that GM Josh Byrnes told The Arizona Republic in December “I don’t think there’s any scenario where it doesn’t go well for him and we’re able to overcome that.” But keep in mind that was before the team signed second baseman Kelly Johnson, reliever Bob Howry and first baseman Adam LaRoche so I’m not sure that quote is operative any longer.

Am I saying the D-backs are going to win the NL West without Webb pitching well for most of the season? No. But then again I’m not sure they win the division even with him pitching well for most of the season.

What I am saying is there is a chance they win the division with him and there’s a chance they win it without him. Surely his health will be a big factor, but there are lots of others.

Anyway, that’s more than enough about Webb for one day. Let’s take a look at some other things to come out of the game today:

– You can’t help but be impressed so far with Edwin Jackson. He threw a solid three innings today and was so efficient he had to go down to the bullpen to throw 15 more pitches so he would reach his pitch count for the day.

“Nasty stuff,” catcher Miguel Montero said about Jackson.

“Still trying to work on things,” Jackson said. “Still fine tuning.”

– Reliever Leo Rosales has looked really good this spring. The right-hander allowed a home run to Mike Napoli (what else is new, Napoli has three homers already this spring) but in two spring outings he’s retired six of the seven batters he’s faced.

“Leo’s thrown the ball well,” D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said.

Rosales kind of flew under the radar a bit last year — he pitched better than you think — and is out of Minor League options. It would not surprise me in the least if he makes the team out of Spring Training.

– Tony Abreu = en fuego.

Abreu started at third Thursday so if you’re keeping track at home he’s played second, short and third this spring. He was 2-for-3 with a double and a couple of plays in the field.

“Abreu continues to shine,” Hinch said.

Spent some time talking with Abreu after the game and it’s clear he’s feeling very confident and realizes the opportunity that he has to make this team.

– Chris Snyder hit his first home run of the spring, but more importantly has now played three days in a row — catching, dhing and catching — and has not had any issues with his surgically-repaired back.

– Aaron Heilman, who looked shaky in his first outing of the spring looked sharp striking out a pair in one inning. Since allowing four runs in one inning last Friday against the Cubs, the right-hander has allowed one hit in two innings.

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.

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.

Catching conundrum for D-backs

So here we are again, heading into another season with the D-backs essentially having two starting catchers.

At the end of last season it seemed all but certain that Chris Snyder would not be in Tucson when Spring Training started.

“Surprised to see me?” he asked to me by way of a greeting the other day.

Actually, I was.

The D-backs nearly traded Snyder to the Blue Jays for first baseman Lyle Overbay in November, but the Jays backed out at the last minute.

So far, Snyder looks completely recovered from last September’s back surgery and it’s also clear he’s going to push Miguel Montero, who took over the starting job last year following Snyder’s injury, for playing time.

“I think A.J. and the staff will determine how best to use those guys,” GM Josh Byrnes said referring to manager A.J. Hinch and his coaches. “We clearly have two No. 1 caliber catchers so we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Montero hits left-handed and Snyder right-handed, but it won’t be a true platoon.

“Miggy showed last year he can hit left-handed pitching and Snydes in 2008 hit right-handed pitching very well so it won’t be as simple as that,” Byrnes said.

And it also looks like the D-backs are not going to deal Snyder at least any time soon.

“That’s our assumption right now,” Byrnes said. “Obviously we had those discussions and made an attempt early and there is a point at which it becomes less realistic. So right now I think it’s prudent to assume that’s going to be our catching combination.”

Now it falls on Hinch to figure out how to keep both catchers happy and productive.

“It’s something I’m going to have to sort out playing time wise over the season,” Hinch said. “But to go in strong, to go in healthy…to me I have no complaints. I never have a problem with too many good guys.”

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Friday notes from D-backs camp

Somewhat quiet day at Tucson Electric Park on Friday with players trickling in as the day went on. The first workout for pitchers and catchers is not until Saturday so players do not have to be at TEP until that time.

Here are a few notes:

– Miguel Montero was his usual entertaining self. He spent part of the morning teasing Rusty Ryal about his play in Venezuela over the winter and also recounted for reporters his offseason travels.

I’ll definitely follow up on this at some point this spring, but Montero visited the Canary Islands, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid.

Miggy played some first base towards the end of the Winter League season because he wanted to get in some game activity without going behind the plate. You may recall that in prior years he has injured his finger and knee while catching over the winter.

Don’t look for him to be wearing a first baseman’s glove for the D-backs any time soon, though. He said he struggled a bit over there and called the position “boring.”

– Veteran reliever Bob Howry met some of his teammates for the first time.

Interestingly for a guy that has played parts of 12 seasons in the big leagues Howry has never played with any of the D-backs players before. Of course, he pointed out that a big reason for that is that the Arizona roster is a very young one with a lot of the guys not having played for a different organization before.

When it comes to roles in the bullpen, Howry said he was told he would be able to compete for late-inning work setting up closer Chad Qualls.

D-backs manager A.J. Hinch echoed that during his meeting with the media when he said that Howry, Juan Gutierrez and Aaron Heilman were front-runners for late-inning work.

Note that late-inning work will not come in the ninth with Hinch saying again that Qualls is his closer.

– Edwin Jackson, who took over Doug Davis’ old locker in the clubhouse at TEP said he was happy to have avoided arbitration last weekend when he signed a two-year deal that will take him up to free agency after the 2011 season.

– Billy Buckner is the frontrunner for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, but told us he knows he has to have a good spring in order to win it.

The key for Buckner, as always, will be for him to stay aggressive, pound the strike zone and be confident on the mound. He’s also going to continue to incorporate his cut fastball.

– Finally a funny story that Hinch told when he was asked about Jackson, who pitched for the Tigers and Jim Leyland last season.

“He told me that I just needed to put him in the rotation and go have smoke and then come back six or seven innings later,” Hinch said of Leyland a notorious smoker. “I told him I had a little problem with that — I don’t smoke.”

Will have lots more tomorrow and as always for the latest updates, follow me on Twitter.

Snyder a late scratch

Chris Snyder was scratched from the starting lineup after batting practice when he experienced tightness in his left glute.

Not sure if this is related at all to the lower back strain that put him on the disabled list — and opened the door for Miguel Montero to claim the starting catching position.

It seems to me that the D-backs need Snyder to not only be healthy, but to start swinging the bat better down the stretch. Not so much because of what it would mean on the field for the team, but because of what it will do to his trade value this offseason.

If the D-backs do intend to go with Montero as the starter next year — and it sure appears they do — then they will almost certainly see what they can get on the trade market for Snyder in the offseason. From that standpoint it is important that Snyder not only be healthy, but also producing if the team hopes to maximize the return they could get for him.

It will certainly be a juggling act for A.J. Hinch to try and give Snyder enough playing time to try and get him going a bit offensively, while still giving Montero the playing time he has earned.

Montero gets bad news

D-backs manager Bob Melvin just told us that catcher Miguel Montero received news on Wednesday night that his father had passed away unexpectedly.

Montero left for Venezuela last night and Melvin said he is not sure when he will return.

“Our hearts and prayers are with him,” Melvin said.

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