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Catcher in the awry...

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Having got the FanFest out of the way, think I'd better mention a couple of other things. An email from an 'informed source' says, of team president Derrick Hall, "He is absolutely GIDDY about this team. All of mgmt is trying to not let their expectations get too high but they really think that we can win West this year. Starting rotation is going to keep bullpen very fresh. Says Julio and Hairston will probably be moved before end of Spring - I realize this is not his area but he likes to show that he is in the loop! :)" Be interesting to see how that pans out: I know everyone in the rotation is capable of pitching seven innings: but will those be seven innings which can keep us in the game? That's the key question.

We did take a step forward there, however, with the long-awaited return of Randy Johnson to the mound. Nothing too strenuous, mind: 25 fastballs, but he said, "I'm feeling a lot better than I did the last time I picked up a ball, let's put it that way." The workout was in private, and he is keeping his timetable for a return vague - both of which I can understand. "I'm not going to go that far. I'm not Nostradamus. It's just going to be a gradual thing that we work through. As we take those appropriate steps, hopefully there will be no setbacks." He reckons he could be two weeks behind the rest of the staff, which would seem to rule out the home opener, but would fit nicely in with...oh, the Dodgers series.

Speaking of ex-Diamondbacks, Mike Koplove is trying to make it onto the Florida roster. He might stick, or he might not: it always seemed kinda weird last year, that we paid him a lot of money in Tucson, where he posted a credible 3.60 ERA (better than, say, Casey Daigle's 4.69), yet only got to pitch three innings in the majors. And Steve Finley aims to complete his set of NL West jerseys, having signed a minor-league contract with Colorado. Kinda sad, to see a five-time Gold Glover, two-time All-Star and former permanent resident of center at BOB, now scrabbling for playing time like that. However, as that's now four teams and more than 30 months ago, the feelings of sympathy are somewhat vague.

Nice spot of "he said, she said" - literally - over Johnny Estrada. From his new hom in Milwaukee, manager Ned Yost says:

"I wanted to hear his side of the story, what happened in Arizona, why there was tension there, why there was trouble there." According to reports, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin and Estrada never got on the same page during the catcher's one-year stay in Arizona. Estrada supposedly got down on pitchers who struggled to follow the game plan and let his frustrations be known publicly... Estrada prefers to put his Arizona experience behind him: "I think my odds of winning a championship here are a lot better than they were last year with Arizona."

On the other hand, Paolo Boivin has the view from the Arizona side of the barricades:

A positive vibe about the catching situation. Exactly whose clubhouse did I just enter? Contributing to the Diamondbacks' giddiness this spring is a comfort level at catcher that the team has struggled to find in recent years... The situation with Johnny Estrada, now with Milwaukee, was a complicated one. On the surface, his offensive production appeared invaluable. Behind the scenes his outspokenness didn't sit well with the team, and several pitchers complained privately that they struggled in their attempts to communicate with him.

Ooh. Looking at the calendar, we should eagerly anticipate July 16-19, when we take on the Brewers. In particular, I look forward to seeing Snyder on third, tag up on a fly-ball, and then heading at top speed towards home-plate, where Estrada waits for the throw... Not least because the 6'3", 230 lb Snyder "stayed in shape this off-season by practicing Muay Thai - think kickboxing meets ultimate fighting - a training method that helps develop speed, cardiovascular endurance and mental toughness." If you've seen any films starring Tony Jaa - same thing. Be afraid, Johnny Estrada: be very afraid. :-)

Saw an amusing cartoon from Korea, which takes a look at who'd have the best rotation, if players had stayed with their first franchise [thanks to coolwater from DBBP for translating and posting it]. The D-backs come in at #6, with Capuano, Penny, Padilla and Kim backing up Webb - though I'd probably have put John Patterson ahead of EdGon. Startling to see what talent has gone through the organization, and on to better things. On the other hand, I'm hard pushed to think of a single trade involving us getting a pitching prospect, that's actually worked for us. Certainly, nothing on the scale of Penny, Capuano or Paterson have ever arrived here yet.