As Tom Hanks once famously (almost) said - except, he clearly hadn't been to the Cactus League, where the game ends whenever the managers decide it will, usually when all the pitchers concerned have got their work in. Personally, I think I will settle for anything which is not a loss against the Rockies, having had my fill of that particular dish last October. This was a typical early spring-training game. Every starter was replaced before the end of the game, and a total of twenty position players as well as six pitchers used by Arizona, thanks in part to the DH being in effect, at the request of the Rockies. That sound you heard was Micah Owings gnashing his teeth in frustration, at not getting to the plate.
He pitched two innings, and was largely focusing on his change-up, as well as getting used to throwing from a new position on the rubber. The results were about what you'd expect: deuces were entirely wild for Owings, who threw two innings, allowed two hits, two walks and two earned runs, both earned, while striking out - inevitably - two. Of course, it was the second inning that proved his undoing, with the first three Rockies hitters all reaching, on a pair of hits and a walk, and two of them came around to score. Murphy followed Owings up, and it was feast or famine for Bill the Cat, who struck out three in his two frames, but also allowed three hits and a run. Fruto threw two shutout frames, but when Robertson gave up another run in the seventh, to put the Rockies up 4-0, it looked like this one was over.
However, Arizona had a different idea, plating four runs of their own to tie it up in the bottom of the inning. Emilio Bonifacio drove in the first score of 2008 for the Diamondbacks with a sacrifice-fly and non-roster invitee Donny Kelly came through in the clutch with a bases-loaded, two-run single. A wild-pitch then tied the game, and Bonifacio struck again, giving Arizona the lead with a single in the eighth. That gave Brandon Medders a chance of the win, after he'd pitched a perfect frame...albeit not, based on what Wimb said, without a couple of long, deep outs. However, Jailen Peguero couldn't close it out, giving up two hits and two walks in the ninth, as well as hitting Jeff Baker with the bases-loaded to drive in the tying run. It might have been worse, had Peguero not started a double-play himself earlier in the inning.
Indeed, quite the game for those, with each team turning three apiece. Conor Jackson had two hits, but also caught straying too far off second and was nailed by Podsednik as part of one twin-killing. Geraldo Parra had a good day: playing right-field, where he replaced for starter Justin upton, he went 2-for-2 and scored both times. Alex Romero reached safely in both of his plate-appearances, on a pair of walks and Bonifacio, as noted above, drove in two runs. Less successful were leadoff man Chris Young [0-for-3 with 2 K's] and our DH, Trot Nixon, who was 0-for-3 with four men left on base. Upton was also hitless in three at-bats.
Randy Johnson faced hitters today, throwing 53 pitches to designated cannon-fodder, chris Rahl and Trent Oeltjen [no word on whether they were wearing red shirts]. Nick Piecoro speculates, based on comments made by Johnson after the game that he'll have another BP session and then "see where we go from there," that the Big Unit's first game will be around about March 7-9, putting him a week or so behind the other starters. Hmmm, if he remains that way, then I'm wondering if the club is aiming to put Johnson out there for the home opener, against the Dodgers on April 7th? Or possibly the day after, since Opening Day at Chase won't really need any attendance boost. That would also mean he probably wouldn't need to fly out from Arizona to start, either in Cincinnati or Colorado.
Not that flying appears to be bothering Johnson, since he popped over to New York on Tuesday, to catch Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in concert, and was back in Tucson on Wednesday. Despite Johnson's back issues, the trans-continental jaunt did not bother Melvin, "Especially when you are in a private plane, when you have as much room as you need." Have to say, I was somewhat surprised by this: I hope it's a sign that Johnson's back is fully recovered, but it does mean I will probably be rather less sympathetic if the Big Unit cries off any road-trips this season, claiming back issues. I also am curious as to who's private jet it was that chauffeured Johnson to and from Madison Square Gardens.
On that topic, I asked Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus about Randy's back, and whether he thought the prognosis for the 2008 season was better or worse than last year. He replied, "Better, because last year they did a microlaminectomy - a small "let's see if this will hold up and remove the pain" procedure. It didn't, [so] he had the more serious, invasive, and permanent surgery. I'd think that he can go 25 starts, but it's likely that he'll make virtually all of them or very few (1 or 2). He's not going to pitch in pain and has nothing left to prove." Except, perhaps, for the shiny bauble of 300 wins.
RJ could be the last to reach that mark for some time. Does Mike Mussina have 50 more wins in him? If not, then the only other under-40's more than half-way there are Pedro Martinez (209) and Andy Pettitte (201). The Hardball Times Preseason Annual had a fun chart predicting their chances of reaching 300 victories. The leader there is Mussina at 29%, but Martinez is not seen as likely, because of his recent injury issues, and only gets a 2% chance. Pettitte is next, at 12%, and then its Felix Hernandez, which kinda makes sense - he has 30 wins and is still only aged 21. He's given a 10% chance of hitting 300. Brandon Webb is down at 5%, though only a handful of active pitchers are above that: Carmona, Hudson, Santana and Schilling (6%); Beckett, Peavy and Verlander (7%); Smoltz and Zambrano (8%); Sabathia (9%). Oddly, the book doesn't list Johnson, but by using this online version of the Bill James Favorite Toy, it gives Randy a 48.4 percent chance of reaching 300.
Finally, a curious story out of Colorado, which I imagine Deadspin will probably be posting before too long. Call Girl Confesses: Sex At Exclusive Denver Club:
The woman said downtown lawyers, money managers and businessmen were just part of the clientele. She said "doctors ... general contractors ... professional athletes" also patronized the prostitution service, which usually charged about $300 for an hour of sex. "Nuggets basketball players ... Arizona Diamondbacks ... Rockies baseball players" and some Denver Broncos were customers she said... Law enforcement did not release the names of any of the clients, even though sources say investigators obtained that information via search warrants.
Hmmm. This could potentially get very nasty, though one imagines any D-backs involved were more likely to be guests than clients; the Rockies, as locals, probably have more to fear of being documented clients, I think. Of course, maybe the lady of the night just meant Denny Neagle. :-) Let the baseless speculation begin!