Kinda glad there's an extra day in February. Means I actually will get to be at work on the last day of the month tomorrow, and be able to partake in the end of month dinner. Hey, I'm nothing if not ego-centric in these things. Small fact of trivia (that I'd best get in today, since I don't know if I'll be doing one of these tomorrow): no currently active ballplayers were born on February 29th. In fact, the sole one over the last 20 years was Terrence Long, who was runner-up in the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year with Oakland. I know the date only happens once every four years, but still...in the same time-frame (1992-2011), February 28 has had eleven and March 1 thirteen...
I wonder if there's a seasonal pattern to when ballplayers are born? Hmm... Might have to look into that... Anyway, here's today's selection of Diamondbacks chit-chat, starting with the announcement of the starting pitchers for Saturday's opening games.
It's a little bit odd this year, as the team will open with a split-squad day, taking on both the Rockies at Salt River Fields and heading across Scottsdale to face the Giants there. The contest against Colorado will see a pair of Arizona's top prospects in action, with Tyler Skaggs starting, and Trevor Bauer following him to the mound - Drew Pomeranz starts for the Rockies, Meanwhile, Josh Collmenter gets to start for the "road" version of the Diamondbacks at Scottsdale Stadium, and will probably face Tim Lincecum. I imagine two innings from each starter will be about the max we can expect
A name from the past showed up in the clubhouse. Steve Gilbert tweeted that he saw Brandon Webb heading in to the team's complex this morning, "here to visit his old friends." That shouldn't take long: of the 45 players used by Arizona when Webb last pitched for us in 2009, the number still with the organization is in single-digits, and few coaches or front-office personnel about either. Gilbert followed up by adding, Webb "has played catch from 90 feet. Hopes to throw off mound soon." If this sounds familiar, it's because it's exactly what he was doing in April 2010. If you don't remember it, that was the year we paid Webb $8.5m for a series of similarly optimistic bulletins...
Somehow, the headline for this next one doesn't do the story justice. Diamondbacks' Brad Ziegler met his wife at a spring training game. For the reality is... Well, let Brad tell it: "I didn't talk to her at all during the game, but I was like, you know what, I'm going to see if I can find her in the parking lot later. I circled it four times." He found her, and to cut a long story short, married Kristen last November. So if you're a lady at a spring training game, leaving the parking lot afterward, and a strange man beckons you to his car, you might want to go over. [Legal note: AZ SnakePit accepts no liability whatsoever for abductions which may result from following this advice]
Some room in the payroll for a mid-season acquisition? Said owner Ken Kendrick, "You like to think you have a plan, and we do. And we'll let the season play out, and if we have needs, then we'll deal with them later in the year." That's impressive, given the team has already gone significantly over and above what was expected to be the payroll, stretching it to acquire both Jason Kubel and Joe Saunders. Speaking of Saunders, Lyle Spencer of MLB.com believes Joe's return "could prove crucial," saying it release the pressure on making someone like Trevor Bauer a 5th starter. Spencer describes the D-backs as having "few identifiable weaknesses."
And speaking of Kubel, he seems to be particularly pleased to be in Arizona for spring training. "The travel is really bad in Florida. You kind of wait around forever. Those games take awhile, and then there's a two- or three-hour bus ride back. It’s going to be a lot better here. The facilities and stadium here are quite a bit nicer. This place out here is awesome. There's nothing like this in Florida." A job with the Arizona Tourist Board beckons, if the whole left-field thing doesn't work out, Jason.
Interesting piece from Jack Magruder on J.J. Putz, summarizing both sides of our closer. I note he's a magistrate on the team's "kangaroo court", which was re-introduced last year, after (presumably) falling out of vogue under A.J. Hinch. Putz describes his approach to the game thus: "Keep things light but at the same time be serious when we need to be serious and address things that need to be addressed... You are going to have up-and-down times during the season, and during the down times you have to have something to keep you from thinking about that and move forward. That’s when you try to carefully time when to do something to build morale up a little bit."
Putz, meanwhile, might want to watch his back, with Wade Miley having revenge on his mind. You probably saw the picture a couple of days back, of Miley working out with bubble-gum on his hat. Seems that's a long, ongoing tradition with Putz and Miley: "The worst was when he set it up for me to go out there and catch the [ceremonial] first pitch. And I'm walking out there and I look up on the scoreboard and there's a huge piece of bubblegum on my hat. That was the most embarrassing one. My grandma has pictures of that in my room. She printed pictures off and they're framed."
Luis Gonzalez seemed unimpressed with Daniel Hudson going public on protecting Justin Upton: "I pull him to the side and I say ‘shut your mouth, don't say that, and you just do it on the field because you earn more respect'. Because now, if that happens in a game and he doesn't do it...[fans are] going ‘well why the heck would he say that if he's not going to back it up?'" Hudson was a bit more circumspect today: "I said what I said and I stand by it, but like I said, it got perceived a little bit different than I actually said it... From the get-go this year, we're more aware of it, so if it happens, consequences shall, or shall not, be made." Er, glad that's cleared up...
- Daniel Hudson knows what he has to do to be better this year. "Obviously I do need to get better at finishing guys with two strikes. My two most drastic numbers last year were my first-inning issues and batting average with two strikes. It just wasn't good enough."
- File under "Well, duh": The Diamondbacks Should Keep Parra
- Tyler Skaggs "looks to build upon stellar 2011 season". "I think any player wants to get to the big leagues. I'm just trying to build off last year. Kind of just become a more mature pitcher, a more mature person. Stay humble. And do whatever the organization wants to do with me."
- Yu Darvish will not make his first spring training start against the D-backs. It'll be March 7 against the Padres in Peoria.
- Purple Row are upset Carlos Gonzalez is not as well-rated as Justin Upton. Well, maybe once CarGo becomes the MVP on a division-winning team and a two-time All-Star, people might start paying attention to him... Of course, Upton is also almost two years younger than Gonzalez. OPS+ at age 23? Gonzalez: 118, Upton: 141.
Here's a fun video Seth of SB Nation Arizona put together, to show you a little bit of Salt River Fields - if you haven't been out yet (and the question would be "Why?" - ok, if you're out of state, I understand), it'll give you a flavor of what to expect from the facility.
Finally, the tweets of the Day go to CY and J-Up. This could turn into the Rock vs. John Cena at Wrestlemania... :)
#Youngins send pics/vids of people that look like @JUS10UP10 for some spring training tickets.The funnier and more embarrassing the better!— Chris Young (@CY24_7) February 28, 2012
I would like to think my followers wouldn't turn their back on me for the @CY24_7 bandwagon.—Justin Upton (@JUS10UP10) February 28, 2012