I'm going to have to keep this short. Go Daddy have scheduled a "mandatory" 30-minute training session today. For this, I have to spend three times as long, driving all the way to/from the office, on a day when I otherwise don't have to be at work. Nice one, GD. When you call and ask if I want to do overtime, this will not be forgotten.
So, let's get down to it. The major news coming out of yesterday's 12-5 win over the White Sox, is Orlando Hernandez getting pulled after just one inning. The Tribune says, Hernandez "was forced to leave Tuesday's game after one inning because of muscle tightness." Pitching coach Bryan Price added, "It's just being smart. We want to see where he's at in a day or two." You could toast marshmallows by the glow of the warning lights here. El Duque has been on the disabled list seven times in his seven-year career, and if we get more than 22 starts out of him this season, it'll be the first time since 2000.
Otherwise, it was another offense-heavy performance by Arizona. The H-Force - that's Hairston, Hudson and Hill, in case you didn't get the memo - all went 2-for-3, while Quentin and Terrero both launched homers, as we pounded out sixteen hits. That runs our record against the reigning World Champions to a convincing 5-0, with a run differential over them of 53-20. It was, however, disturbing to see Donnie Sadler in a Diamondbacks uniform again. The word, "Why?" comes to mind.
After Hernandez was yanked following the first, Luis Vizcaino went into "long relief", but allowed four hits and three runs over his two innings. Koplove gave up one hit in two frames, and must be considered a dark horse for the bullpen - not least since, like Choate, he'll otherwise be paid a large sum of money to bolster the Sidewinders' relief corps. As noted in the Gameday Thread for the contest, Heredia got nicely toasted, but Castellanos (who he?), Bass and Aquino allowed no hits and one walk between them, with four K's, from the seventh-inning stretch on.
The Diamondbacks get a rare - indeed, unique - off-day today, and so that brings the second week of Spring Training to a close. Which means it's time for:
Heroes and Villains of Spring Training
Hitting [min 20 ABs]
Chris Carter: 11-for-20, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1.671 OPS
Chad Tracy: 12-for-22, 7 RBI, 1.383 OPS
Jeff DaVanon: 9-for-20, 11 BB, 1.345 OPS
Brian Barden: 8-for-28, 0.804 OPS
Shawn Green: 7-for-26, 4 RBI, 0.796 OPS
Alberto Callaspo: 6-for-30, 1 extra-base hit, 0.506 OPS
Honorary mentions go to Orlando Hudson (13-for-26, 1.283 OPS) and Carlos Quentin (10-for-26, 7 BB, 2 HR, 1.260 OPS), while Chris Snyder (9-for-19, 1.447 OPS) just fell short of enough at-bats. Carter continues to impress, but it's generally known that we don't have anywhere to play him, as his glove is leaden, and we aren't looking for a 1B anytime soon. A trade to an AL team, where he could DH, would seem likely: let's hope we don't rush into anything, as he could become very valuable if he continues this kind of form in the minors.
Again, it's hard to pick villains when the team as a whole has been hitting .371, with an OPS of 1.048. We continue to lead the NL in just about every offensive category bar home runs (we have 22, one less than the leaders). But Callaspo has really not shown any reason why he shouldn't be left in the minors for some seasoning - especially when Andy Green has an OPS more than twice that of Alberto's. Though Callaspo's glove is well-regarded, I've seen little evidence his bat is major-league ready.
Pitching [min 5 IP]
Brandon Webb: 9 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0 ER
Kevin Jarvis: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 ER
Greg Aquino: 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 ER
Brad Halsey: 6 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 6 ER
Franciso Heredia: 5 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 6 ER
Russ Ortiz: 8 IP, 13 H, 2 BB, 2 K, 11 ER
While the presence of Heredia in the Villains is perhaps no surprise (I'll be cheering when he's let go), it is disappointing, and perhaps a little disturbing, to see two prospective members of our starting rotation also recognised for their poor contributions this spring. At least with Halsey, we have a fairly-credible alternate in Vargas: but these performances make me believe the organization will need to address the question of what to do with Ortiz, sooner, rather than later.
Webb, on the other hand, has been dominating in all three of his outings, and looks set to step up to be our ace - or as close as we'll get to see this year. [And his wife is due to have their first kid tomorrow, so good luck with that!] If Aquino could get those walks under control a bit better, he might find himself with a bullpen job: Jarvis is still probably a long shot to make the roster. And bubbling under, Daigle and Koplove: the latter already mentioned, while the former has developed a two-seamer that gives him another option when facing hitters.
The Diamondbacks continue to claim Craig Counsell will be ready for Opening Day, but I'm growing increasingly doubtful with regard to this matter. He hasn't even started hitting off a tee or playing soft-toss yet, and that's not even vaguely scheduled until "some point in time" next week. Newsflash for Melvin: nineteen days from now, the season will be underway. Just how ready do you think Counsell will be?
And anyone want a job? I found this over at Craig's List: emphasis added. "The Game Operations department for the Arizona Diamondbacks is seeking enthusiastic, energetic individuals to join their Entertainment team. This is a part time position that does have weekend, evening and holiday requirements. This position works with promotions during the game as well as mascot appearances. The ideal candidate must have good communication skills and experience in front of large audiences." Low self-esteem, plus a willingness to suffer humiliation and pain at the hands of small children are also essential skills. ;-) Funnily enough, $50-$100 per appearance is not quite enough to get me into the Baxter costume...