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Diamondbacks 0, White Sox 2: Arizona gets Colon cleansed

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And so ends spring training: not with a bang, but with an embarrassingly-wrong call by the home-plate umpire. This prematurely ended Mark Reynolds' at-bat with two men on base, robbing the Diamondbacks of the chance for a dramatic ninth-inning comeback. I am struggling to care enormously about it, in part because this was a meaningless exhibition, but also because Arizona really didn't deserve to win this one. Between today and yesterday, we faced nine innings from the White Sox starters, and managed three hits, one walk and no runs. I'm not sure where the team who scored 5.4 runs per game in the Cactus League has gone, but they didn't show up today. Here's to them making their way from Tucson between now and Monday.

Instead, we saw a bunch of brutal at-bats by our hitters, particularly the likes of Chris Young and Justin Upton, who got particularly schooled by Bartolo Colon, and each men had a pair of K's in three ABs. Colon fanned the first four batters he saw after coming in to relieve Jose Contreras, and ended up with six K's during his five innings of work. In total the Diamondbacks scratched out four hits - all singles - and the only walk came to Alex Romero with two outs in the ninth inning. I think that was the first time we got a runner into scoring position all afternoon. It brought Mark Reynolds to the plate, but a foul-tip that clearly hit the dirt before getting caught by Corky Miller, was called as strike three and finished the game.

If there was a bright side to the game, it was to be found on the mound for Arizona, where we held the White Sox to only two runs - though they left no less than eleven men on base. Jon Garland allowed one run in four innings, despite giving up four hits and four walks. He looks pretty much as advertised, pitching to contact and keeping the ball away from the heart of the plate. I think we can expect him to have a lot of men on base, and should not necessarily worry too much about that side of things. Particularly impressive was the beautiful strike-out looking Garland got to end the second inning with the bases loaded.

Jon Rauch arrived, and promptly surrendered a lead-off double, then allowed the runner to steal third. That man did come home on a sacrifice fly, to give Chicago a 2-0 lead, but that was the end of the damage. While Billy Bucker loaded the bases up again in the sixth, a harmless ground-ball stopped the White Sox from extending their lead. Doug Slaten got a sweetly-turned double-play to help him in the seventh, though pivot man Ryan Roberts got a spike to the knee for his trouble, and Hector Ambriz posted zeros for the final two innings. He got three strikeouts and looked pretty good - especially on the old, "bluff to third, throw to first" move, which actually worked. Mark Reynolds - playing first by this point - applies the tag to White Sox catcher Miller, before he could get back.

The main news from the day, however, is the not-unexpected announcement that Ryan Roberts has made it to the big leagues, getting the 25th spot on the roster. It's a great achievement for the career minor player - 2,732 PAs there, compared to just thirty-one in the majors, and he seemed just about shell-shocked by the realization he had an Opening Day spot, which he was told about yesterday. He said, "It's indescribable. I can't even put it into words. It's something you dream about... I couldn't even talk about it last night." How much playing time he'll see, it's hard to say: what he brings to the team is flexibility, since as well as playing the infield and outfield, he can also be used as an emergency catcher. That will allow the team to use Miguel Montero more often to pinch-hit, without worrying about what might happen if he has to leave the game.

Here's the audio, in which Bob Melvin talks about why Roberts made the team, Roberts about the news, and also Brandon Webb discusses expectations for this year, and also getting to make an Opening Day start at Chase Field for the first time in his career.

Audio courtesy of KTAR 620

Also glad to see Webb talking a little smack about Manny Ramirez. "Having to worry about slowing that guy down? I don't think he's going to be doing the same thing he did last year, to be honest with you. He's not going to be the person we're going to let beat us." And when asked how Ramirez will respond to such comments, Webb stood his ground, "Yeah, well, that's all right... Bring it." That's a good attitude to have, I think: Mandy totally killed the team last year, hitting over .500 in the dozen games he played against us. As noted in my piece for the Hardball Times, we need to do a much better job of retiring him if we're to go toe-to-toe with the Dodgers. Webb will be facing Los Angeles next Saturday, so he'll have an early chance to walk the walk and match the talk.

And that's it. The next time I see baseball, it's going to be Opening Day, with the long, bright saga which was 2009 spring training finally over. Less than 48 hours to go, folks, and we'll finally be there. Can't wait...