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Snake Bytes 9/20: One Week Remaining

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Kole Calhoun might not actually be ready for the season to end.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Houston Astros Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks 2, Houston Astros 3

[D’backs.com] As Calhoun HRs again, youngsters get reps - With seven games remaining and the postseason off the table for his team, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo is doing his best to balance the desire to win as many games as possible with giving the team’s less experienced players a chance to develop and show what they can do in crucial moments. That was on display in the eighth inning Saturday night when Lovullo left four straight left-handed hitters in to face lefty Brooks Raley during the D-backs’ 3-2 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park. “Look, they’re some of our younger core players,” Lovullo said. “I knew that it was a tough matchup with that left-handed pitcher that was coming into the game for the Astros, but I want to give them that experience and give them a look at that and be able to evaluate them and give them that experience. I just think that’s where we’re at right now.”

[Arizona Sports] D-backs squander early lead in loss to Astros as Calhoun homers again - Kole Calhoun hit his sixth homer in five games, leading off the second inning with a solo shot to right. Calhoun has 15 homers this season. Josh Rojas increased the lead to 2-0 in the third on a sacrifice fly. Starter Luke Weaver (1-8) allowed three runs and five hits with five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings in losing his fifth straight decision. Altuve tied it at 2 in the sixth with an RBI double, and Tucker put Houston ahead with his single three batters later, chasing Weaver. Altuve also had a run-scoring groundout in the third. The three-time AL batting champion is hitting just .219 this season.

[AZ Central] Luke Weaver drops 5th straight in Diamondbacks’ loss to Astros - Despite the lack of support, Weaver had made a 2-1 lead stand up through five innings. The sixth inning, however, did not go his way. George Springer led off with a soft single to center. Jose Altuve split the gap with a misplaced fastball to tie the game. Michael Brantley grounded an infield single to second, putting runners on the corners. Weaver rebounded by striking out Alex Bregman, but Kyle Tucker beat him on a high fastball, shooting it into left for a go-ahead single. “All night, I was able to beat him with the fastball and he made his adjustment,” Weaver said of Tucker. “Bad timing for me, but a pitch that’s relatively where I wanted it.” Of the young hitters who played on Saturday, the Diamondbacks could give significant roles to several in the coming years. Varsho and Smith could be everyday players. Rojas and VanMeter could be super utility types, if not more.

Diamondbacks News

[D’backs.com] Beloved scout, exec Hughes passes away - Gary Hughes, a member of the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame who worked in baseball for 54 years, died on Saturday. Hughes, who had been working as a professional scout for the D-backs for the past year, also spent time as the Expos’ scouting director and the Marlins assistant general manager. He began his career as a part-time scout for the Yankees and also worked for the Giants, Mariners, Mets, Rockies, Reds, Cubs and Red Sox. Some of the players Hughes helped scout and sign included Delino DeShields, Kevin Millar, Mike Redmond and Greg Colbrunn as well as football legends John Elway and John Lynch before they switched sports. Hughes received a lifetime achievement award from Baseball America in 2007 and was inducted into the Scouts Hall of Fame in 2009. Hughes was remembered as a beloved person and icon of scouting as tributes poured in on social media.

[Arizona Sports] D-backs acquire LHP Julio Frias to complete Marlins trade - The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Saturday that they have acquired left-handed pitcher Julio Frias from the Miami Marlins. Frias comes as the final piece of an August blockbuster trade that sent outfielder Starling Marte to the Miami Marlins in exchange for pitchers Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later. The 22-year-old southpaw from the Dominican Republic first signed with the Marlins in 2014 through international free agency. He spent the 2019 season in the Class A Short-Season, pitching 14 games with a 2.83 ERA and 73 strikeouts.

Around the League

[MLB Trade Rumors] Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire Retires - Ron Gardenhire is retiring as Tigers’ manager, effective immediately, GM Al Avila announced today (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). Bench coach Lloyd McClendon will take over the manager’s chair for the remainder of the season, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Gardenhire intended to step away from the sport at the end of the 2020 season, he informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of MLive), but a recent bout with food poisoning contributed to his decision to make the move a week and a half early. “This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family,” Gardenhire said in a press release. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager. I’d also like to thank the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins for giving me the privilege of leading their clubhouses. While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system. Tigers fans are going to enjoy the exciting times on the horizon.”

[NBC Sports] Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, likely out thru 2021 - Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and is expected to be out through the 2021 season, ending his bid to make a late return for a playoff push. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1+-minute video. “In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said. The 37-year-old right-hander threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings. “I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

[Yard Barker] Twins’ Josh Donaldson: MLB umpires have ‘no accountability’ - Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson still is salty about being ejected at home plate during Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. While the 34-year-old already lashed out at the umpires, it didn’t stop him from calling them out on Saturday. Umpires aren’t disciplined for making horrendous calls, and Donaldson thinks they need to start being held more accountable when games are on the line. Donaldson told reporters on Saturday in a video call, according to a transcription by the Star Tribune (via ESPN): “[If] the umpire consistently isn’t doing [his] job correctly, that’s affecting our careers, that’s affecting our success. At the end of the day, there’s no reprimand, no accountability for the guys that are making the decision. As a matter of fact, they don’t care. They don’t care at all, most of them. They just want to get the game over with, for the most part, and it’s pretty sad because guys are making six figures a year and there’s no accountability.”