Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
The All-Star break afforded many D-backs players the chance to travel and spend some time away from the diamond. The break gave them a breather from the intense grind of a 162-game season.
They now return for the final 70 games of the 2011 regular season recharged and anxious to compete for a division title.
Several players jumped at the chance to travel out of state and visit family. First baseman Xavier Nady headed back home to San Diego where he hung out at his house with family. It wasn’t exactly an adventurous trip for Nady who used his final day off to go to The Home Depot, Costco and host some friends over for dinner, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy himself.
“It’s a long year mentally and physically,” Nady said. “It gives you a good couple of days and always comes at a good time. It’s usually well needed. So it lets you reflect on things and get ready for the second half. It’s nice that we’re in the hunt and all that.”
Southpaw Joe Paterson and his wife traveled to northern Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon for the first time. While he enjoyed the trip, Paterson was also happy to give his body a break from baseball.
“It’s nice to have days off,” Paterson said. “For the body it is, but it’s still not that long so I’m still mentally in it. But the body feels good, and it’s great to have a break.”
While both Nady and Paterson left the Valley of the Sun, infielder Ryan Roberts stayed in town during the break. Roberts attended FanFest where he participated in an autograph signing and Q&A. He also watched the 82nd MLB All-Star Game from home and celebrated his wife’s birthday.
While at FanFest, Roberts was excited to see plenty of fans wearing D-backs gear.
“I saw more D-backs shirts and jerseys than I thought,” Roberts said. “I thought it was going to be the typical Dodgers, Yankees, Giants and Boston Red Sox. I thought I’d see a lot of those. I’m going to say 80 percent of the people there had on Diamondbacks stuff.”
Now that the All-Star break has passed, each D-back returns to a team in the middle of a tough division race. Arizona enters the second half just three games back of the first-place Giants with 18 of its next 22 games coming against division rivals. The D-backs will also face the Giants nine more times.
“It was exciting before,” Paterson said. “We’ve been kind of up and down with the Giants, so it’s fun to get back into it.”
The oncoming weeks will be crucial for the D-backs’ division title aspirations. With a recharged and talented roster, Nady is adamant that his team is capable of making a run toward the top.
“It’s always fun to have that chance to play in October,” Nady said. “I feel like we’ve got a good group of guys, a good team. You just come ready to play each and every day and see what happens. You’ve got to play well down the stretch, and I think we’re capable of doing it.”