This afternoon was the final spring-training game at Tucson Electric Park for the Diamondbacks, after a dozen years including such memorable occurrences as Randy Johnson killing a bird and the 70's horror movie which unfolded around the Rockies Darren Oliver in 2005, when attacking bees caused the game to be called. I'm sure the new park in Scottsdale will bring its fair share of moments, but it's always sad to see major-league baseball leave any town. Tomorrow's game at Hi Corbett will mark the end - for now at least - of spring training in Tucson, closing the book after more than 64 years there.
After the jump, details on the final contest at TEP.
I know various members of the 'Pit were in attendance at the game, so I won't say too much about it from my end, since all I've got to go on is the box-score - sure their eyewitness accounts will be a good deal more valuable. Dan Haren pitched pretty well, going into the seventh inning, and allowing three runs on eight hits, walking none and striking out seven batters. However, he was doubled-up by the Rangers, with five of those eight knocks being two-baggers. The bullpen didn't exactly pitch lights-out, Leo Rosales, Blaine Boyer and Chad Qualls combining to allow six hits over the remaining 2.2 innings, but the only damage was a run charged to Rosales, who also allowed an inherited runner to score.
Offensively, Gerardo Parra was the only batter to do much, getting a couple of hits, but also being thrown out trying to steal second-base. Adam LaRoche did reach base safely twice, with a single and a hit batter. Augie Ojeda had the only extra-base hit for the Diamondbacks, and our runs, both of which came in the eighth, were driven in by Jeff Bailey and Ryan Roberts. Drew Macias had an outfield assist. Sad to see a final crowd of barely above 5,000 at Electric Park for the game. I would have thought there'd be a full turnout for this one, but it seems many Tucsonites (Tucsonians? Tucsoneers?) gave up caring much.
Some bits and pieces of news, while we wait for the Tucso... people from Tucson, to return from the park and update us on the game. James Skelton, a rule 5 pick in 2009, was released by the Diamondbacks. He had failed to make the team in spring training, but we traded a player back to Detroit so we could hang on to him, intrigued by his amazing plate-discipline. While that persisted, Skelton's 86 walks being =11th in all minor-league ball last year [though Reno infielder Ruben Gotay walked 102 times, tied for second], he hit only .207, and got sent back to High-A ball.
Some interesting suggestions that Ryan Roberts' spot on the roster may not be as certain as previously thought. Nick Piecoro asked Hinch about that today and says, "Hinch’s answers didn’t provide a whole lot of clarity." Piecoro reckons, and Steve Gilbert agrees, Roberts will be on the Opening Day roster. "But he might not be for long if he doesn’t perform once the season starts," added Nick, with the same also going for Gerardo Parra. Certainly, neither man has done much this spring to lock down their spot this month: Parra has a .500 OPS, while Roberts is at .536. Given the alternatives we have - specifically Rusty Ryal and Tony Abreu, both slugging over .500 - Roberts' position seems especially perilous.
Rodrigo Lopez was semi-officially named the fourth starter, albeit because his competitors, Kevin Mulvey and Billy Buckner, were both re-assigned to Reno. We will almost certainly see one or other of them back with the team on April 17th, when we need a fifth starter: I'd lean towards Buckner for now, but there is also the possibility that it could be Kris Benson, who will start tomorrow's game, and is expected to pitch five or six innings. Also re-assigned to Triple-A were Brandon Allen and Cole Gillespie, meaning that the 25th spot appears to have come down to between Ryal and Abreu [assuming Roberts and Parra do both make the team].