Line-ups + roster move
Yes, you read that correctly. Back on the roster, and right back into the line-up, is outfielder Kole Calhoun. He returns five weeks after having knee surgery to fix a tear in his knee (a right medial meniscus, for those medical nerds out there). He should help counter the absence of Ketel Marte in the Arizona offense, especially with the platoon advantage against the Reds’ starter today. To make way, the team optioned infielder Andrew Young back to the alternate training site. Considering he was just called up from there the other day, to take Marte’s spot, and didn’t get into a game, you can be forgiven for not having noticed. It’s as if he were never here...
Torey Lovullo notes
On playing in front of home fans for first time since 2019: “It’s going to be a big party when we see one another again. ....We expect them to be loud and into it, it will give us a ton of energy... We know that they’ve been patiently waiting for this day. We’re connected to them. I think everybody in this entire organization did a great job of finding ways to connect us to this community and we want to go out there and make them proud. We are AZ proud.
Kole Calhoun activation: The target date was today. He worked his butt off to make today happen, and he told us he was ready and the medical team signed off on it.
Nick Ahmed should be right behind Kole. He’s very close. He has been batting, fielding and running the bases.
Riley Smith has been named the starter for Saturday’s game “We felt like that there was a good attack plan that he follows [judge officially rules that’s worth a shot]. He has a fearless mentality by filling up the strike zone. We’re looking for somebody to pitch deep into games. We felt like his stuff and his mound presence was going to give us the best chance to go out and win a baseball game. He deserves this. Riley took his demotion in stride when we sent him out in spring training. He continued to go down there and work and you can see what happened.
Team offensive approach: Mike Hazen told the beat writers he hasn’t really been seeing the team offensive approach improvement that they have talked a lot about during the offseason. Torey didn’t seem to fully agree with that. He feels the hitters are being more selective, but just haven’t been getting the results: There’s no perfect science to how to teach things, how to go about creating a perfect offense. We’re having daily discussions about not going out of the zone, limiting chase, and targeting our hot zones and squaring up balls in our hot zones and impacting the baseball in the air.
The one part of it that leads me to believe that we are going in a very positive direction is our guys ARE waiting for the pitch in their zones, we’re just not impacting it. So if there’s 5 steps to doing things the right way per at bat, we’re doing several of them. We’re just not finishing it off.
The discussion continued between Nick Piecoro and Torey, who had said he felt the chase rate was down, which is good, but whether or not there was some frustration and tendency to come out of that approach when not getting results
“I think that’s the toughest part about hitting and that’s where I think you’ve got to be stubborn and if you are doing enough right per at you’re going to start having results. You know it’s a couple of walks by Eduardo Escobar yesterday and then teeing off on a ball right in his hot zone for a home-run... I think that’s a perfect example of continuing to believe and continuing to stay on the right side of things without going backwards... We know guys ARE waiting for the pitch in their zone and that to me is the key”
[JACK’S THOUGHTS]. Is this the first public crack in the wall between Hazen and Lovullo? Torey was very diplomatic, but also emphasized he didn’t agree it was an approach problem, but rather just doing anything with the pitches they are swinging at. The D-Backs have a 3.9% chase rate, which is only the 23rd highest in MLB. (Chase rate = swings at pitches in “chase zones”). In 2020 they had the 11th highest chase rate, 5.3%. So that’s definitely an improvement so far, on a team wide basis.