"You’re always competing for a spot... I haven’t had the best of spring training results. I feel like my arm is in good shape and I haven’t really been getting the results. I really don’t have an answer to that... Whether the results are there or not, maybe it’s time to… (sighs) I don’t know, that’s a tough question. It is what it is. If he hasn’t announced me as a starter yet, he hasn’t announced me as a starter yet. It is what it is. I’m not going to make anything more of it than it is."
-- Joe Saunders
With the announcement of Barry Enright having secured a rotation spot, it comes to a battle between Aaron Heilman, Armando Galarraga...and Joe Saunders. Yep: what we took as a given, regardless of his 14.54 ERA, might not be quite so certain after all. Comments from Kirk Gibson and more from Saunders, after the jump.
"Fun times at D-backs camp," tweeted Nick Piecoro, because he and the other reporters got to break some news to Joe Saunders - Kirk Gibson's press conference in which he announced Saunders is "competing for one of the last two spots." Piecoro described Saunders' reaction to that information as "pretty stunned." In some ways that surprise appears a tacit acknowledgment that the "competition" touted in camp was only supposed to be for certain spots: or, at least, so Saunders believed. No so fast, says Gibson: "When we break camp, people that are ready to fill a position, that’s where they’ll be... You’ve got to be healthy, got to be able to execute pitches."
After Heilman's outing this afternoon, here are how the three candidates stack up.
Even allowing for the bout of flu which hammered Saunders, there's no doubt who would miss out if the decision was made purely on spring performance. However, you'd have to be an idiot to think that is entirely and absolutely the case. Other considerations - previous performances, fiscal matters, etc. - will inevitably play a part in the final decision. It would still, it seems to me, be a major shock if Joe Saunders was not part of the team's rotation on Opening Day. However, that appears more of a credible scenario than it did this morning.