That was fun. Saw some baseball, watched Edgar Gonzalez pitch six innings without letting the Rockies get a hit out of the infield, drafted my team for the AZ SnakePit Fantasy Baseball league, while watching the best 007 film ever (Goldfinger, in case you're wondering) and enjoying a cold beer. Yes, that's about as good a Sunday afternoon as could be hoped for, and I look forward to many more of them the rest of the year.
Definitely a success, having Mrs. SnakePit's laptop for commenting purposes, so that should be a regular feature of the games seen at home. Wonder if they have wireless at Chase Field? But thanks to everyone who got a few Spring Training swings of the keyboard in as well: VIII, Rox Fan in NY, npineda, unnamedDBacksfan, Zephon, Ridster, DiamondbacksWin and AZDarkKnight. Look forward to seeing you all, and anyone else who's interested, once games begin in earnest. Which is now less than eight days away. Almost there, folks!
Someone who certainly seems ready is Edgar Gonzalez. He got his fourth win in four starts with six excellent innings on the mound. They would have been shutout frames too, except for Barden's inability to handle a grounder from Helton. His pitches had lots of life on them...though we did notice he ran his fingers through his long hair before just about every pitch. Mrs. SnakePit wondered if that was perhaps, ah, helping things somewhat, shall we say. Hey, until he gets caught, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and not mention it any more. Six innings of two hit-ball will send out conscience off, whistling. Consider him a lock in the rotation for now.
Behind him, Cruz had a decent eighth, but Valverde was wobbly, surrendering hits to four of the six hitters he faced, and getting bailed out by a lame steal attempt from one of the Rockies. If that hadn't been attempted, more than a single run would probably have scored off Jose. Tony Peña came in and nailed things down in the ninth, with a one-run lead, allowing a walk. But from what the commentators were saying, it seems he'll be the go-to guy if Valverde struggles this season. Which makes me wonder what they're planning for Jorge Julio.
Offensively, not all that much to report, except for Eric Byrnes hammering two homers in his first two at-bats, including one to leadoff the game. Our only other run came on a "double" by Tracy, which both Rockies outfielders left to the other, and Callaspo scurried all the way round from first to score, since there were two out at the time. Tracy did get two other hits, and he seems to be hitting his stride at just the right time [his spring average is now all the way up to .356]. The rest of the team, outside those pair, went 2-for-25, so we'll draw a veil over that side of things.
Seems that Doug Slaten may not be the lefty specialist in the bullpen after all. According to Melvin, "He's going to have to pick it up here in the next few games. I want to see results... It's a big spot. So I want him to be confident. We want to be assured he's ready to go in those situations. He knows going in he's got to go out and produce." The article reckons Slaten has three appearances left, and points out we don't really have much alternative, with Eveland not used to a relief role. If Slaten is deemed inadequate, we could end up being LOOGY-less, as we were for a good chunk of last season.
Among former D-backs, I see Travis Lee seems to have retired. Lee was expected to be the Diamondbacks' first top prospect, and in 1998 started the franchise's opening game at 1B. He got our first hit during the second, on a groundball to center, and added our first run, HR and RBI in that game with a homer off the first pitch he saw from Darryl Kile, to deep right in the sixth. But he hit just .252 for Arizona, and was traded to the Phillies as part of the Schilling deal in 2000.
In his nine major-league seasons, Lee batted a mediocre .256 overall - though his glove was good, never making more than six errors in any year. He was trying to catch on with the Nationals, as a replacement for Nick Johnson, but asked for his release on Sunday and it was granted. [Quick trivia question. With the apparent retirement of Lee, only two men who appeared for the Diamondbacks in their first-ever game, are still active as players in the majors. Who are they? Answer at the end.]
Couple of plugs for other sites. Here's an email sent to me by freelance writer, Jim Johnson: "I recently started a blog called Good News In College Sports. The feedback I have received so far from visitors has been very positive. People appreciate having a place to go read college sports news where they don't get weighed down by stories of recruiting violations, arrests, academic issues, or any of the other negativity so often pervasive in media coverage. Encouraged by that response, I have just started a sister blog, Good News In Pro Sports. Just like the title implies, I'll be searching out the positive, uplifting stories in professional sports, both major and minor league, to help offset the Terrell Owens, Pac-Man Jones, Barry Bonds news that receives most of the attention."
It probably is true to say that the mantra of "if it bleeds, it leads," applies to sports news too, and we know from our own experience it's a lot harder to get coverage. [Where were the news crews that beat a path to our door over the Serial Shooters, when were promoting our charity event?] We do perhaps tend to think of professional sportsmen as being overpaid and selfish, because that's often how they're portrayed. But as with all humanity, there's a complete spectrum from the good to the bad and the ugly, and it's nice to see somewhere that redresses the balance, by drawing attention to the charity work and positive role-models that can also be found in professional sports. I'll get down from my pulpit now. ;-)
It lives! It liiiiiives! I refer, of course, to Zephon's D-backs Ramblings, which has come back from the grave after an eight-month hiatus, just in time for Opening Day. He's currently on the DL, with a couple of pins in his hand, so that might force Zeph to stay at home for a bit and blog regularly. :-) Pleased to have someone else joining - or re-joining, anyway - the small but perfectly formed band of D-backs blogs: hopefully, a good season might encourage a few more.
[And the answer to the trivia question is... Surviving from our franchise opener (March 31 1998) are Russ Springer and Karim Garcia. Springer threw the ninth inning and now works in the Cardinals bullpen: he also threw five straight inside pitches at Barry Bonds with the Astros last May, finally hitting him. He was immediately ejected, to a standing ovation from the Houston crowd - and it wasn't the first time he'd done it either. Garcia started in right for the D-backs that day, and may be the Phillies fifth outfielder. On the Rockies, Todd Helton played, and of course remains with them, while Neifi Perez is active too. Not quite sure how!]