The Inside Pitch

The Inside Pitch

The Insiders brings you the freshest news in all of baseball. This week we take on Al Pedrique's path to the majors, and what the fork in the road might be in the future. ALSO: Injuries continue to be a factor, the D'Backs set themselves up for a trade, and Alex Cintron gets a vote of confidence from Pedrique.

INSIDE PITCH
   When Al Pedrique left his post as manager of the Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders to become third base coach for the Diamondbacks this season, he did so with a bittersweet attitude because he loved the ability he had to teach and manage young prospects and send them on their way to a career in the majors.
   Little did he know he'd get the same opportunity a little more than three months into the season.
   Pedrique, 43, replaced the fired Bob Brenly as Diamondbacks manager on Friday (July 2), and he inherits a team stocked full of prospects he tutored last season in Tucson. More than two-thirds of Arizona's roster was made up of players with less than three full years of major league experience.
   "I have mixed feelings about the whole situation," said Pedrique, who brings eight years of minor league managing experience with him to the job. "As much as I wanted to be a manager in the major leagues, it never crossed my mind that it would be like this.
   "I'll do the best I can to prove to the organization that I can bring a lot to the table, and hopefully everything will work out and be positive for the future."
   In addition to Brenly, pitching coach Chuck Kniffin also was relieved of his duties and bench coach Robin Yount resigned out of respect for Brenly, a close friend. Kniffin was replaced by bullpen coach Mark Davis. Yount's position was filled by Lorenzo Bundy, the former hitting coach at Tucson.
   In other moves, first base coach Glenn Sherlock replaces Pedrique as third base coach, Tommy Jones, the club's director of player development, is the new first base coach, and Dennis Lewallyn, the organization's roving minor league pitching instructor, will serve as the new bullpen coach.
   "I have a lot of confidence in my players and the coaching staff," Pedrique said. "... I think we have the personnel to play better."
 
NOTES, QUOTES
   --One of Al Pedrique's toughest first tasks as the Diamondbacks' new manager was to walk out to the mound in the ninth inning to meet with Randy Johnson and see if the left-hander was capable of finishing a complete game Sunday (July 4)  against Minnesota. Johnson wasn't going to give up the ball -- not until afterward, when he presented it to Pedrique to commemorate the rookie manager's first major league victory. "That means a lot. A future Hall of Famer, the way Randy is, for him to remember that was my first major league victory means a lot to me," Pedrique said, adding, "He's a true professional."
   --LHP Randy Johnson, who reached the 4,000-strikeout milestone on June 29 with eight Ks against San Diego, could reach another milestone moment against the Padres at the end of the season. He's on pace to surpass Steve Carlton as No. 3 on the all-time strikeout list when the Diamondbacks meet the Padres Oct. 1-3 at Bank One Ballpark. Carlton retired with 4,137 strikeouts, the most of any left-hander.
   --The Diamondbacks dug up the pitching rubber from the mound at Bank One Ballpark and presented it to Randy Johnson on the night he struck out eight Padres to reach the 4,000-strikeout milestone.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Consecutive losses by the Diamondbacks to American League teams until Arizona beat the Minnesota Twins on Sunday (July 4) behind the pitching of Randy Johnson.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "This year has been the perfect storm in combination of debilitating injuries, under-performance, bad luck, anything you want to throw in there. Maybe any one of which we could have survived. But when you combine them all, we are where we are." --Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr., after the firing of manager Bob Brenly.
 
ROSTER REPORT
   New manager Al Pedrique has made at least a couple of significant changes in electing to use veteran Roberto Alomar more regularly at second base ahead of rookie Scott Hairston, who was handed the starting job by former manager Bob Brenley, and in re-inserting Alex Cintron as the everyday starter at shortstop ahead of rookie Tim Olson, who clearly was going to get more time there under Brenley.
   PITCHING TRENDS: Arizona can't find a No. 5 starter. Two days after veteran right-hander Shane Reynolds finally made his Diamondbacks debut -- and it was a stinker -- he landed back on the disabled list, this time with a knee problem that required arthroscopic surgery. The Diamondbacks reached back into the bullpen to let Andrew Good make his second start of the season, and he got rocked just as badly as Reynolds did. The club also has used Casey Daigle and Edgar Gonzalez in the No. 5 spot, but neither could hold down the job. It appears it will remain a revolving-door operation unless a trade brings in more starting pitching help.
   PITCHERS TO WATCH:
   --LHP Randy Johnson might be on his way out of town, depending on which rumor you believe. The Yankees are interested in obtaining him for the stretch run, and if it's true, Arizona fans and National League fans alike had better savor every chance they get to watch the Big Unit pitch.
   --RHP Elmer Dessens could make a case to be re-inserted into the starting rotation; his work out of the bullpen has been getting more solid by the outing. At issue, however, remains his penchant for getting roughed up after four or five innings.
   --RHP Mike Koplove took over the closing duties for the injured Jose Valverde (shoulder tendinitis) and therefore became the fourth different closer this club has used this season, following Matt Mantei, Scott Service and Valverde.
   LINEUP LOWDOWN: With the recent signing and recall of veteran OF Quinton McCracken, it appears the Diamondbacks won't be afraid to pull the trigger on a deal involving either CF Steve Finley or RF Danny Bautista. Don't be surprised if Arizona still moves 2B Roberto Alomar, who all but asked for a trade last month after he was benched by former manager Bob Brenly. Now that he's getting more playing time from new skipper Al Pedrique, anything is possible.
   POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
   --C Robby Hammock has become Randy Johnson's personal catcher, but other than that, he's getting almost zero playing time. If Johnson gets dealt, Hammock's importance becomes even less and the Diamondbacks clearly will be looking for a starting catcher in a trade.
   --SS Alex Cintron has been pressing in recent weeks, and it was about to cost him his starting job until manager Bob Brenly got fired. New skipper Al Pedrique has said he will stick with Cintron for the rest of the season, which could help settle down the second-year pro.
   --INF Tim Olson has been a pleasant surprise in the field and at the plate and will get spot-starting assignments wherever and whenever possible at second base, shortstop and third base. He can also play the outfield.
   MEDICAL WATCH: INF Carlos Baerga (left calf strain) was getting closer to participating in full baseball drills and was eyeing a return by Friday or Saturday (July 9 or 10). INF Greg Colbrunn underwent surgery on his right wrist for the third time in a year and hoped to return in September. 2B Matt Kata underwent surgery to repair a slightly torn labrum in his left shoulder and, like injured 1B Richie Sexson, is thought to be done for the year. RHP Shane Reynolds is back on the disabled list after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery.
 

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