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Diamondbacks Game Preview #73: 6/25 vs. Tigers

Only one active position player has a longer career against the D-backs than Miguel Cabrera.

Detroit Tigers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Victor Reyes - RF Josh Rojas - 3B
Riley Greene - CF Alek Thomas - CF
Javier Baez - SS Ketel Marte - DH
Miguel Cabrera - DH Christian Walker - 1B
Harold Castro - 1B David Peralta - LF
Robbie Grossman - LF Buddy Kennedy - 2B
Jeimer Candelario - 3B Daulton Varsho - RF
Kody Clemens - 2B Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Tucker Barnhart - C Jose Herrera - C
Alex Faedo - RHP Zach Davies - RHP

When it comes to looking at Tigers who are “D-backs killers,” the conversation pretty much starts and ends with one name: Miguel Cabrera. He’s not just the only player on the current roster to have been with the team when they last played the Diamondbacks in 2017, his history against Arizona for Detroit goes all the way back to 2008. And that’s just as a Tiger. His first career games against the Diamondbacks was five years prior to that, and he homered in his opening PA versus us. That came off Miguel Batista, which should give you some idea of how long ago that was: July 28th, 2003, to be precise, going 2-for-4 with that home-run.

The only player still active, whose first game against Arizona predates Cabrera, is Albert Pujols, who faced the D-backs in just his 13th career game, on April 16, 2001. He went 1-for-4 with a single off Diamondbacks’ starter Robert Ellis in the sixth. The sole other active position player to face Arizona before 2007 is Yadier Molina. But purely among active AL players, nobody has a bigger range against the D-backs than the 15-season span of Cabrera. Kurt Suzuki is at 14 (2008-21) and Elvis Andrus is on 13 (2009-21). Cabrera has hit Arizona well, with a triple-slash of .371/.451/.565 for a 1.015 OPS, across 17 games and 71 PA. Though his career OPS is just a hundred points lower: he hits most teams well.

It’s the most PA by any Tiger against the Diamondbacks, Brandon Inge and Dmitri Young being the two others above 50 PA. If we drop the qualification to 10 PA, the leader becomes Robert Fick, who is an impressive 9-for-21 with two HR and a 1.419 OPS. And if we allow any number of PAs, the greatest Tiger is... future D-back Tony Clark. In 2001, he went 4-for-7 with two homers, giving him a 2,196 OPS. As mentioned yesterday, David Peralta is only current Diamondback to have faced the Tigers before this series, but his .536 OPS to date isn’t up to much. Luis Gonzalez had a 1.130 OPS over 66 PA, and Brandon Drury (yes, him again!) was 9-for-16 with two HR in 2017.

Buddy Kennedy audio

Had a bruised hamate bone, but MRI and X-rays showed no fracture. He’s quite relieved it wasn’t broken. It happened on a swing against Manaea in San Diego, but didn’t need much treatment beyond icing and Advil. There was a little inflammation; he took some swings on yesterday’s off-day, and everything seems good. He’s glad to be back in the line-up, and says he has been learning something almost every at-bat.

Joe Mather audio

What stood out for Joe during the month of June slump?

Not finding a lot of holes. Batting average and Slug are down, those are the big ones . We did have a good 10 game stretch not too long ago.

On reliance on homers:

While 2 & 3 run homers are nice, it’s hard to sustain a lot of offense with solo homers. The goal is to score 5 runs every game and he doesn’t care how they do it. Their major focus is on trying to hit hard line drives. The even try to narrow that focus to hitting low line drives. A perfect swing is a really hard hit ball that splits the gap.

How do you define selling out for power and is that a valid criticism?

9 guys going up and looking to drive the ball out of the yard. [is how he would define it] I don’t think that’s what is happening. Watching it on T.V. or watching from the stands it might look like that. I totally get that. But by no means are guys going up just looking to hit homeruns. I can guarantee that.

Carson Kelly: He thinks Kelly is still going through the process of “coming back” and he’s still adjusting.

“Impressions of Buddy Kennedy: He can turn on a heater, I know that. He has good poise, good presence in the box, especially for a young kid. He loves baseball. That’s all he thinks about. Goes home and plays baseball video games. Plays as a Diamondback. First impressions are this kid is gonna grind, he’s gonna work.........“

Mather coached Kennedy in the minor leagues as far back as five years ago, and he said he has narrowed down his approach and learned not to swing at pitches he can’t hit.

Checking in on minor leaguers: He checks in on how hitters that have been up and down every day. He talks to the hitting coordinator and assistant coordinator. One of those two is with them every day. So they download with them to keep tabs on the hitting prospects.

Daulton Varsho: They have been working on his lower half, and liked some of the cues they were giving him. He got some results in Philadelphia with a homerun off a lefty, but it’s been hard to maintain in the face of continued slump. It sounded like he’s in between changes and having difficulty sticking with the changes.

Staying with swing mechanics changes in a results driven business is one of the toughest battles and mental grinds for a hitter.

Alek Thomas: He’s been doing a very good job of making adjustments. Teams were throwing him more changeups and curveballs but he’s made the adjustment and now is in the two hole.