Tagged: Justin Upton

Ninth Inning Execution was Key in D-backs Win

By Greg Dillard

In 2011, the D-backs have proven time and time again that they can never be counted out in a ballgame. And as they’ve proven this season, it’s the execution of the little things that makes all the difference.

During the team’s surge to the top of the National League West, they have continually found ways to win with a new hero every single game.

In Wednesday night’s series finale against the Marlins, the D-backs pulled off another miraculous comeback to seal the 6-5 win and the series victory. It was the team’s third walk-off win of the season, and the D-backs now have a 16-3 record in their past 19 games.

“We just try to weather the storm, just stay calm about it, and don’t get too frustrated,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “When you get in games like that they can frustrate you.”

After the Marlins came back to tie the score at 5-5 in the top of the inning, it was time for the D-backs to rally once again.

Upton delivered the striking blow with a two-out, broken-bat single to left, but Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts deserve a ton of credit for the way the game ended.

Bloomquist singled to start the inning. When Roberts was up with a 2-1 count and one out, Bloomquist took off running. Roberts made contact, chopping the ball to third. When third baseman Greg Dobbs fielded it and threw Roberts out, Bloomquist was able to advance to third, taking two bases on a ground out.

Upton’s hit then plated Bloomquist and sealed the walk-off win.

“We just kept battling,” Upton said. “Huddy gave up some runs early, but he kept us in it. He gave us a chance to battle back, and we just fought.”

Hernandez continues 8th inning excellence

After rallying to tie knot the score at 4-4 in the seventh, Gibson called on David Hernandez to pitch the eighth, as he has so many times this year. The right-hander did his job, and then some in his lone inning of work.

Hernandez fanned the first batter, Gaby Sanchez, to start the inning and then froze Gregg Dobbs on strike three. Mike Stanton then strode to the plate in need of just a double for the cycle. Instead, Hernandez struck out Stanton to fan the side and end the inning.

“I was feeling good,” Hernandez said. “It’s actually funny, Gibby came up to me yesterday during batting practice and was like ‘Hey we need to work on getting your pitch count down’. He told me he wanted to get down to about 15 an inning so it was 13 tonight so that’s a start.”

Upton All-Star Campaign Receives Huge Celebrity Boost

Upton Photo by Greg Salvatore, Bieber photo from Twitter.com/justinbieber

By Greg Salvatore

Justin Bieber has the second-most Twitter followers of any person in the world, 9.6 million. That is over a million more than President Obama, almost twice as many as Oprah Winfrey, more than twice as many as Justin Timberlake and more than three times as many as The New York Times.

(In related news, it’s more than 35,000 times as many followers as Insider_Writer, so let’s get to changing that, eh?)

So when it comes to celebrity endorsements, it’s hard for anyone to reach more people than a Justin Bieber tweet. Behold:

We’re rooting for Justin Upton around Chase Field, obviously, since it would be pretty special to see him play in the All-Star Game and potentially the Home Run Derby right here in his home ballpark. So it’s awesome to see a celebrity endorsement for him. Hopefully this moves the needle.

D-blog may not have a Bieber-caliber reach — yet — but here’s the ballot. Vote Upton, vote D-backs and vote often:


Upton, Young Give Cricket a Try


Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Salvatore
If Justin Upton and Chris Young were born in England or India or the Trobriand Islands rather than the exotic locales of Virginia and Texas, they might be swinging a different kind of bat.
Back in February, Upton and Young tried the sport that has some similarities — and some vast differences — to the sport with which they make their livelihood.
Aditya Thyagarajan and Abhimanyu Rajp, players on the U.S. national cricket team, came to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick to give the D-backs outfielders a lesson in the sport, and give them a chance to go deep.
Jim Caple of ESPN.com was on hand to document the meeting:


My favorite part of that video? At least one of their teammates thought it was as much fun as they did. Perhaps learning how to be a bowler, as they call it in cricket, D-backs pitcher Barry Enright shows up around the 2:30 mark shooting some video.
It was a fun afternoon, and Upton and Young developed a new respect for the hugely popular international sport.
Photographer Jordan Megenhardt was on the scene to capture some images.


Parker & Upton Shine in Peoria Thursday


Photography: Jordan Megenhardt
By Greg Dillard
After making his 2011 Spring Training debut last week against the Colorado Rockies, D-backs pitcher Jarrod Parker returned to the mound on Thursday against the Padres.
The highly regarded prospect pounded the zone with strikes and threw two scoreless frames. 
With a 3-2 lead, Parker entered in the bottom of the fourth, and battled to a full count against Padres leadoff batter Luis Durango. Parker then retired Durango on a ground out to second base.
One batter later, Eric Patterson reached third base on a double and a stolen base. But Parker set down Chris Denorfia and pinch hitter Aaron Cunningham on fly outs to third baseman Geoff Blum, and got out of the inning unscathed. 
Similar to his first outing, Parker was able to tighten up and keep the opposing offense from scoring. 
“Definitely a lot more comfortable,” Parker said. “I relaxed a little bit. I threw a little less in the ‘pen going two innings. I wanted to get through the two clean and stay with a good energy level the whole time.”
Parker’s energy level certainly seemed rock solid when he returned to the rubber in the bottom of the fifth for his second inning of work. He picked up where he left off the inning before by retiring Chase Headley on a ground ball to Ryan Roberts at second base. 
The next batter, Nick Hundley, didn’t fare much better as he flew out to left field. 
After allowing a single to Oscar Salazar, Parker got Kevin Frandsen to fly out to center field to end the inning.
While Parker allowed three walks in his first outing, he did not issue a walk against the Padres. 
“I was getting over my front side, and getting ahead of guys,” Parker said. “Then going in and out as much as I could and just letting guys get themselves out versus trying to strike everybody out.” 
In his two innings, Parker threw 31 pitches, 20 of which were strikes.
“Much better (than his outing Monday),” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of Parker. “I thought it was much better. Threw the ball better, ball was down more. Moved it all around better, had better location.” 
With Spring Training still in its early stages, Parker hopes to build off of each of his outings.
“I feel pretty good,” Parker said. “I’m just preparing for the season and I’m just trying to take each outing into the next one and keep building.” 
Upton heating up at plate
Most opposing pitchers are aware that when D-backs outfielder Justin Upton puts the barrel of the bat on the ball, it tends to go a long way. After doubling twice on Wednesday, the D-backs right fielder provided plenty of offense against San Diego on Thursday. 
Against the Padres, Upton singled in his first at-bat. Then in the top of the fourth inning he unloaded on a Greg Burke pitch, driving it into the left-field lawn seating for a two-run homer. 
That blast was Upton’s first home run of the Spring. 
“I just got a good pitch and hit it,” Upton said. “That’s what our goal is this Spring Training, get good pitches and put a good swing on it.”
While Upton has had a nice week at the plate, he is still not where he wants to be. 
“The more work we do out there in practice and beforehand helps us out,” Upton said. “As many days as we can get, as many reps as we can get in the game, the rust starts to come off. Near the end of Spring Training, you want to be comfortable. You get your work in now.”  

Pitchers, Catchers Have Last Workouts Before Full Squad Reports


Photography: Jon Willey


By Greg Dillard


Under an overcast sky in Scottsdale, D-backs pitchers and catchers took to the practice fields at Salt River fields for a variety of workouts on Friday.


Spring Training serves as a time to work on the fundamentals of the baseball. Pitchers and catchers devoted time to bunt defense drills, comebacks, pick-offs and much more.


On Friday, catchers participated in fundamental drills such as rundown plays.


“Those are little things you got to do in a game,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “That’s one thing that help you win a game. If you are not able to do it, then you aren’t going to win any games. It’s always important to do all those plays and do the little things to help you win a ballgame.”


Hudson looks to duplicate 2010 success


After being acquired by the D-backs from the White Sox last July, pitcher Daniel Hudson was nothing short of dominant on the mound.


Hudson came to Arizona and immediately made an impact by posting seven wins, a 1.69 ERA, and striking out 70 batters in his 79 2/3 innings of work.


So far this spring, Hudson is enjoying his first spring as a member of the D-backs.


“I felt great, getting into the full swing of things,” Hudson said. “You’ve got position players officially reporting tomorrow, full team workouts and everything. I’m pretty jacked up.”


After making a bold statement with his performance last year, Hudson is eager to continue his success for all of 2011.


“You got to keep getting better every day,” Hudson said. “That’s what I always tell myself. Just go out there and try to replicate what I did last year. If I’m fortunate enough to even come close to that then I’m good. I’m just trying to go out there and give the team the best chance to win and try and get deep into ballgames.”


Baylor brings experience to coaching staff


Don Baylor has seen it all throughout his lengthy career as a player, manager and coach in the Major Leagues.


Baylor was hired this past offseason as the new D-backs hitting coach, and is tasked with helping rejuvenate an offense that struck out at a record rate last season.


In 2010, Baylor returned to the Colorado Rockies as their hitting coach. Under his watch, the team plated 804 runs which was the second most in the National League. Baylor’s hitters also clubbed 190 home runs.


“Don is a guy who’s got loads of experience as a player,” Gibson said. “He’s been a manager. He’s been a hitting coach for a lot of good hitters. He’s got a good way about himself. If you had the chance to spend time around him, you might think he’s quiet. He picks his spots. He’s not over coaching at this point.”


Several position players report early


While the first full squad workout is not until Saturday, several position players have been at Salt River fields already.


These players ranging from infielders Geoff Blum, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Willie Bloomquist to outfielders Chris Young and Justin Upton are here working out and getting a head start on their season.


Gibson said many of the position players are chomping at the bit to get going.


“We have staff so we can help them out,” Gibson said. “They want to be ready to go. You workout in the offseason, and then when you come to the field and you do all the elements you get really sore. Guys who have been here working out, it should help them out a little bit. They’re enthusiastic about it for sure.”


Upton Listed as Day-to-Day



Photography: Jordan Megenhardt


Justin Upton is listed as day-to-day with a strain of his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Upton underwent an MRI on Tuesday, at which point D-backs team doctor Michael Lee informed interim General Manager Jerry Dipoto that there was indeed a strain.


Dipoto said the strain dates back to a shoulder injury in 2007, which itself may date back to the outfielder’s amateur days.


Upton’s timetable for return is uncertain, though it appears unlikely he’ll be returning in the immediate future.


“There is no sense in rushing him,” Dipoto said. “We’ll give him every opportunity to heal.”


Dipoto said Upton is currently working on a strength program with the D-backs’ conditioning staff.

Upton Featured on ESPN Today



ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick has a nice feature on D-backs outfielder Justin Upton today, running on the front of their MLB page.

It’s not behind the Insider wall, so anybody can read it. Here’s the link.

It includes an interesting passage with a note about a player to whom Upton seems quite similar:

The contract is similar to deals signed recently by Hanley Ramirez, Nick Markakis and Ryan Zimmerman, but also to a deal signed by a player to whom Upton has drawn early comparisons: Ken Griffey Jr., who signed a four-year, $24 million deal in 1992 at the age of 22.

Griffey was already a star at the time, and the contract paid off huge for the Mariners when Junior continued to improve and become one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Griffey and Upton have developed a bit of a friendship in recent years, with Griffey lending advice to Upton.

“He actually helped me out a lot last year,” Upton said. “Just the mind-set he has [in baseball]. When it comes down to it, you’re playing a baseball game for a living, and so make it fun and have fun doing it. When things are going bad, smile and continue playing hard.”

Anyway, go check it out. It’s a solid feature.

D-backs Keep Budding Superstar in Phoenix Part III


Justin Upton is the star of baseball’s most recent stellar draft class.


The 2005 Major League draft might end up being to baseball what the 1984 draft was for the NBA (Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton) or what the 1983 draft was for the NFL (John Elway, Eric Dickerson, Bruce Matthews, Jim Kelley, Dan Marino and Darrel Green). Those were drafts that defined the superstars of their sport for the next two decades.


Take a look again at the top 10 of the 2005 MLB draft:


1. Justin Upton, D-backs

2. Alex Gordon, Royals

3. Jeff Clement, Mariners

4. Jeff Zimmerman, Nationals

5. Ryan Braun, Brewers

6. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

8. Wade Townsend, Rays

9. Mike Pelfrey, Mets

10. Cameron Maybin, Tigers


Upton, Zimmerman and Braun have all been to the All-Star Game already. Tulowitzki finished fifth in MVP voting in 2009. Maybin has developed a little slower than his fellow first-round batters, but should get plenty of at bats to show his talent in Florida this year. Romero had a nice rookie season for the Blue Jays last year. Only Townsend hasn’t played in the big leagues.


Outside of the top 10 in the first round of that draft, you’ll find Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, Colby Rasmus and Clay Buchholz.


After the first round, there was 22nd round pick Tommy Hanson, Nolan Reimold, Kevin Slowey, Yunel Escobar and John Lannan.


(Four future stars were also picked that year, but won’t be considered members of this class because didn’t sign until being drafted again in 2006, including all stars Tim Lincecum and Andrew Bailey, along with two of the top 15 prospects in baseball, Buster Posey and Brian Matusz.)


It’s very possible that over the next decade or two, a good amount of the biggest stars in the game are in this particular draft class. Upton was at the top of this class five years ago, and there’s no reason he can’t stay at the top of it.