Tagged: Dbacks

Strong Night for Kennedy Lifts D-backs

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

On Wednesday night, the D-backs suffered a pair of disheartening losses. They not only fell to the Brewers in extra innings, but also lost shortstop Stephen Drew to a season-ending ankle injury. So, heading into Thursday’s series finale against Milwaukee, Arizona was in desperate need of some good news on the diamond.

The team turned to ace Ian Kennedy who took the mound against Brewers’ right-hander Zach Greinke. In what was a classic pitcher’s duel early on, Kennedy cruised through seven sharp innings en route to a much needed 4-0 win. Continue reading

Kershaw anticipates tough D-backs squad

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

The All-Star break has come and gone, which means the second half of the 2011 regular season is set to get underway on Friday.

After a strong first-half performance, the D-backs will resume play at 49-43 and just three games behind the first-place Giants. The team posted a winning record in both May and June to climb toward the top of the National League West.

Continue reading

All-Star FanFest underway in Phoenix

All photos by Josh Greene

By Greg Dillard

The 2011 MLB All-Star FanFest is officially underway at the Phoenix Convention Center in Downtown Phoenix.

With 350,000 square feet of interactive baseball entertainment, FanFest provides visitors with an unparalleled baseball experience. The event, which is now in its 21st year, has drawn more than 2,100,000 fans during the past 20 seasons.

Continue reading

All-Star festivities coming to Chase Field

Photo by Jonathan Willey

By Greg Dillard

In the spring of 2009, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced that Chase Field would play host to the 82nd MLB All-Star Game. Now in 2011, All-Star week is just days away.

It’s bound to be an action-filled experience as many of baseball’s biggest stars gather in the Arizona desert, so D-backs Insider takes a look at some of the upcoming festivities at the ballpark.

Continue reading

D-backs to face off against Melvin

Photo by Paul Connors for Arizona Diamondbacks

By Greg Dillard

When the D-backs take the field at Oakland Coliseum this weekend, they’ll see a familiar face in the opposing dugout. That man is A’s manager Bob Melvin.

The former Arizona skipper took the reins of the Athletics last month, when he was tabbed by General Manager Billy Beane to become interim manager. This came after Melvin had returned to the D-backs organization as Special Baseball Advisor. Oakland is Melvin’s third-career managerial post.

He guided the Seattle Mariners from 2003-04 before leading the D-backs from 2005-09. In the desert, Melvin’s D-backs claimed the 2007 National League West crown en route to NL Manager of the Year honors that year.

Nowadays, the D-backs are led by second-year manager Kirk Gibson who has his team six games above .500 and just two games out of first place. After serving as his bench coach just a few years earlier, Gibson will face off against Melvin in a three-game set that kicks off Friday night.

“It’ll be interesting,” Gibson said. “He’s going to want to be beat me good. I know that. He’s done a great job over there. I know his style. He’s very passionate. I know his players will play very tough. We just kind of went through something like this in Detroit where I went against my home team and a guy who was my Minor League manager. So, try and keep the distraction part out of it. We certainly respect each other, and it’ll be a good series.”

This series in Oakland is the D-backs’ final Interleague action of the season. Heading into 2011, the D-backs owned a 90-112 all-time record in Interleague Play. They have posted a 9-6 mark against American League foes this season.

The D-backs also finished the month of June at 14-13, which was their second-consecutive month with a winning record. They went 19-10 in May.

While Gibson is pleased that his former boss has returned to managing, he knows it’s going to be a competitive series.

“It’s a shame the way it ended for Bob.” Gibson said. “I know it stung him pretty good. We talked as friends about it several times. He’s back where he belongs in uniform in the dugout. That I’m happy for, but I’ll be put in a position where I’ve got to try and beat him.”


Roberts, Peña spark walk-off win

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

In last homestand’s edition of D-backs Insider magazine, Ryan Roberts was labeled a sparkplug. It was a perfect label for a player that consistently makes things happen in the field and at the plate for the D-backs.

On Tuesday, Roberts was up to his usual habits. With the score knotted at 4-4, Roberts led off the bottom of the ninth inning by drawing a walk against Indians left-hander Tony Sipp.

Roberts wasn’t about to drop anchor at first base, but instead he was soon off to the races. He quickly swiped second for his 10th stolen base of the season. Several pitches later, Roberts was in motion once again. This time he bolted toward third, reaching safely with ease.

“Every pitcher does something, and you’ve just got to wait until you see a key,” Roberts said. “When you see a key, (don’t) give it away by jumping (around) out there. Just try to stay calm and whenever I thought I could get it, (I) took off.”

All of a sudden, the winning run was just 90 feet away. Roberts was hoping to do anything he could to draw Sipp’s attention from the pinch hitter Wily Mo Peña.

“In a situation like that, the pressure is on him to throw strikes,” Roberts said. “If I can take his mind off the batter and off throwing strikes … maybe get him to balk then we get a run scored (and) we win.”

After missing on a breaking ball to start the at-bat, Peña drilled a two-run walk-off home run into the left-field bleachers to seal the 6-4 win. It was Peña’s second career walk-off homer.

“I said I was going to go and look for a breaking pitch,” Peña said. “Everybody saw the first swing that I took. It was so hard because I was looking for a breaking pitch. So the second one I said, ‘let him bring it up,’ and that’s what happened.”

Hudson firing on all cylinders

To say Daniel Hudson helped his team defeat the Indians would be an understatement.

The D-backs’ right-hander did everything he could against Cleveland on Tuesday night. Hudson turned in a complete effort by contributing both on the mound and at the plate.

In his 17th start of the season, Hudson unleashed eight solid innings, allowing just a pair of runs on six hits. Hudson retired the Indians in the second, fourth, and sixth innings. He also notched five strikeouts to raise his season total to 92.

It was Hudson’s 13th quality start of the 2011 campaign, which leads the Arizona pitching staff and is tied for third in the National League.

Hudson helped his cause by laying down a two sacrifice bunts in the game. He also laced an RBI double into the right field corner in the fifth inning. He now leads the D-backs’ pitching staff with seven RBI.

Despite not getting the win himself, Hudson was pleased with his overall effort against the Tribe.

“I didn’t have great command tonight,” Hudson said, “but I pushed through it and was able to help out and get a couple of guys in scoring position. I got a pretty good swing on a fastball.”

Castillo makes D-backs debut

Just hours after arriving at Chase Field as a new member of the D-backs’ bullpen, lefty reliever Alberto Castillo toed the rubber.

Gibson called on Castillo in the middle of the ninth inning to face Lonnie Chisenhall. The new D-back did his part by freezing Chisenhall on strike three to end the inning.  He would also earn the win, thanks to Peña’s blast one inning later.

Tuesday’s appearance was Castillo’s first Major League outing since June 8, 2010, when he was a Baltimore Oriole.




D-backs add pair of relievers

By Greg Dillard

The D-backs made some changes to their bullpen on Tuesday by selecting the contracts of relievers Yhency Brazoban and Alberto Castillo from Triple-A. To make room for them on the active roster, Esmerling Vasquez and Bryan Shaw were sent back to Reno.

Both hurlers were pitching well for the Aces before receiving the promotion to the big leagues. Castillo recently joined the Arizona organization via a Minor League deal on June 17. The left-hander made five appearances for the Aces, four of which were hitless outings.

Castillo reached the Major League level with the Baltimore Orioles. From 2008 to 2010, the southpaw posted a 4.81 ERA in 62 games. In 48 2/3 innings of work, he struck out 42 batters.  

Castillo’s recent success at Reno made him an attractive option for the D-backs.

“We wanted to get a second left-hander for sure,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “(Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers) was in Reno last week. He was also in Mobile before that, and felt Castillo was throwing the ball very good. He just came in the organization. He also was throwing the ball well before he got there.”

Brazoban meanwhile earned a 1-1 record and a respectable 2.70 ERA in his eight games at Reno. Brazoban is a familiar name for the D-backs, spending parts of five seasons with the division-rival Dodgers. He was most recently in the Major Leagues in 2008, and owns a 10-12 mark and a 4.70 career ERA at the big league level.

“As for Brazoban, he’s a guy with some experience,” Gibson said. “Obviously, with the Dodgers he hasn’t been in the big leagues in a couple of years, but he’s been throwing the ball like he did in 2007 and 2008. He’s got good velocity, throwing strikes. He’s got experience in those situations. I’ve been talking about that portion of our bullpen. Kevin felt that this is the direction we need to go in, and we’re going to see how this works out.”

The additions of Brazoban and Castillo provide the D-backs with a pair of fresh arms. By selecting Castillo, Gibson now has the luxury of having two southpaws in the bullpen.

“You can look at the Giants, it works for them,” Gibson said. “This Cleveland club here is another example. It effectively lets you match up two times through. Whereas the way we’ve had it with Joe (Paterson), it’s a onetime shot. It’ll let us do things a little differently.”

Gibson ready for next hot streak

After a catching fire in mid-May, the D-backs have cooled off a bit here in June. Arizona has suffered three consecutive losses, heading into Tuesday night’s contest against Indians.

Although the D-backs have battled some adversity as of late, Gibson remains confident that his team will get back to its winning ways.

“It goes in cycles,” Gibson said. “Every team will probably go through periods where things don’t go as they’d like them. You just have to endure them. The Giants lose what four or five in a row. Now they’re on a run. So that’s what we’re going to try and do.”

D-backs host Indians, Gibson reflects on Sparky

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

The Cleveland Indians and Arizona Diamondbacks have been two of baseball’s most surprising teams in 2011. Both teams have surpassed expectations and sit near the top of their divisional standings.

The D-backs are set to host the Tribe in a three-game set this week in the final home series at Chase Field before the All-Star break.

Arizona enters tonight’s series at 43-36 and 1.5 games out of first place in the NL West, while Cleveland owns a 40-36 record and trails first place Detroit by 1.5 games in the AL Central division race. After suffering 93 losses a season ago, few saw the Indians competing for a division title this season.

“They surprised everybody,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “Their bullpen is the best in the American League. They’ve got some very athletic kids. They’re going to throw seven left-handers at us tonight. They’re very aggressive. They play good defense.”

In the bullpen, closer Chris Perez has locked down 18 saves. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera makes highlight-reel plays on a routine basis, while designated hitter Travis Hafner is red-hot with a .338 batting average.

Prior to Monday’s series opener, Cleveland promoted former first-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus.  With both teams just 1.5 games out of first place, it’s sure to be entertaining.

“We saw it in Spring Training, and they’ve carried it into the season,” Gibson said. “This game is very unpredictable. It’s a credit to them as to where they’re at today. Just like the last opponent, they’ll be very tough for us.”

Gibson reflects on his days with Sparky

Throughout Gibson’s tenure as D-backs manager, he’s spoken of the impact his former manager Sparky Anderson had on him.

Gibson played for Anderson’s Tigers from 1979 to 1987. Under Anderson’s direction, the Tigers won 104 games in 1984 en route to a World Series championship.

On Sunday, the Tigers honored Anderson by retiring his famous No. 11. Since the D-backs were in Detroit wrapping up a three-game series, Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were on hand to witness the tribute.

“Sparky’s had a huge impact on me, and Alan, and so many other people,” Gibson said.  “He was represented very well yesterday by the speeches, the video, just talking to the people, and to see the Detroit fans react the way they did…”

Although Gibson last played for Anderson over two decades ago, his impact is still felt to this day.

“It’s why I’m the way I am,” Gibson said. “He’s affected me more so than anybody I’ve been associated with in the game.  He certainly taught us how to play the game and how to act professional and a lot of the things that I preach here, but he really cared about you as a person.”

Collmenter, D-backs head to Detroit


By Greg Dillard

Interleague play continues for the D-backs this weekend as they travel to the Motor City to take on the Tigers. Arizona is fresh off a three-game sweep of Kansas City and maintains a slim half-game lead for first place in the National League West.

The Tigers return to Comerica Park after a 2-4 road trip on the West Coast.

For several D-backs, playing in Detroit will be a homecoming, of sorts. 

Manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell both starred in Detroit during their playing days. Closer J.J. Putz is also a Michigan native and attended the University of Michigan.

This weekend’s series is extra special for rookie pitcher Josh Collmenter. According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, the town of Homer, Mich., welcomed him back on Friday by celebrating Josh Collmenter Day. The right-hander was greeted by plenty of fans at the downtown celebration on Main Street, and was awarded a plaque celebrating the event.

Collmenter is slated to toe the rubber against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Saturday’s game. The D-backs rookie owns a 4-3 record with a 2.09 ERA in 15 appearances this season.

­D-backs Insider recently caught up with Collmenter to talk about his homecoming and growing up a Tigers fan.


Goldschmidt, Skaggs to play in All-Star Futures Game

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

The 2011 XM All-Star Futures game at Chase Field will feature a pair of D-backs top prospects. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt and pitcher Tyler Skaggs have been selected to participate in this year’s event.

The 13th annual Futures Game will take place on July 10 and showcases many of baseball’s elite prospects on two teams: U.S. and World. In this year’s contest, Goldschmidt and Skaggs will be teammates on the U.S squad.  

After being drafted by the D-backs in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB Amateur draft, Goldschmidt has torn through Minor League pitching. In nearly three seasons, the hard-hitting first baseman has crushed 75 home runs, 83 doubles, and 231 RBI.

He batted .334 and .314 in his first two seasons, respectively. In 2011, Goldschmidt keeps on hitting and is enjoying a standout season at Double-A Mobile. Through 70 games, he is hitting .328 with 22 homers and 61 RBI.

Despite his recent success, Goldschmidt only wants to get better as his season continues.

“I just try to do my best every day and keep improving,” Goldschmidt said in Spring Training. “Listen to what the coaches are saying and the other guys on the team. Your teammates can help you out so much.”

Goldschmidt recently participated in the Southern League All-Star Game, where he launched a two-run homer in the first inning.

“All you’ve got to do is look at his numbers and wow,” D-backs Director of Player Development Mike Bell said in Spring Training. “I think the way he does it makes it really impressive, too. He’s got a lot of power to right field and right centerfield. The majority of his home runs come that way, which is the sign of a guy that knows how to hit.”

Then there’s Skaggs, who was acquired last summer in the Dan Haren trade with the Angels. Skaggs was a first-round draft pick by Los Angeles in the 2009 draft. With an electric arsenal of pitches and smooth mechanics, the southpaw has immediately become one of Arizona’s top pitching prospects.

As a member of Single-A Visalia’s starting rotation, Skaggs has a 3.36 ERA and 4-5 record in 14 starts this season. Following last year’s trade, he made four starts for South Bend, where he went 1-1 with a sharp 1.69 ERA. In Skaggs’ 83 innings of work, he has tallied 102 strikeouts, which leads the entire California League.

After a slow start to the season, Skaggs has found his groove in recent weeks.

“I’m just attacking hitters,” Skaggs said, “using my fastball inside outside, my curveball, and then I really worked on my changeup. (It’s) just going out there thinking the best, and you can’t be hit. You’ve just got to go out there and go pitch by pitch.”

Skaggs was also a recent Minor League All-Star when he started for the California League in the Single-A All-Star game against the Carolina League on June 21.

Goldschmidt and Skaggs are the latest D-backs to suit up for the Futures Game. Shortstop Stephen Drew, pitcher Daniel Hudson, and outfielders Justin Upton and Chris Young were all participants in past Futures Games.