***Yes, it's April Fool's Day, but Casey Daigle isn't laughing. Daigle started the Spring on the short list of candidates to snag the #5 spot in the Diamondbacks rotation, but didn't see many innings with the big league club this Spring, was cut from the big league roster early, and now has been assigned to the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. A source with the Diamondbacks has characterized the assignment as a ‘motivational tool,' but it rumors have persisted around the Diamondbacks that manager Bob Melvin was displeased with Daigle's shape coming into camp as well as his work ethic during camp, and this decision was a wake up call for the young righty.
***There were quite a few questions answered during the Diamondbacks exhibition game against the Red Sox last night, and quite a few that were unanswered. Is Russ Ortiz worth his monstrous contract? Let's be kind and say that one wasn't answered after Ortiz gave up walked four, gave up four hits, and six earned runs in 1/3 of an inning of work. One was definitely answered when Troy Glaus went 2-3 with two homers and five RBI. So for now the Diamondbacks are one for two in their big offseason pickups.
***Marland Williams will join Daigle at Double-A Tennessee, and while it doesn't come as a huge surprise, there was some speculation that he would start the year at Triple-A Tucson, but a Spring which saw Williams continue to have trouble making contact consistently has him heading back to Double-A where he will start between Jon Zeringue and Jarred Ball in the Smokies' outfield.
***Russ Ortiz has won more games than any other National League pitcher since the All-Star Break in 2000. He joins Brandon Webb in a rotation that features three pitchers who walked more than 100 hitters last season.
***How happy is Triple-A Manager Chip Hale going to be at the start of the season? His potential lineup could be:
1—CF Marland Williams
2—2B Scott Hairston
4—RF Carlos Quentin
6—LF Josh Kroeger
7—C Craig Ansman
8—3B Brian Barden
Whoa. That's a whole lotta thunder, and the Pacific
Coast League should be afraid, very afraid.
Want more? Okay, let's move
***Ramon Pena, aka Tony Pena, aka Adriano Rosario, entered the Spring as the dark horse for the #5 spot in the rotation, and will head back to Double-A Tennessee to work on some things, namely throwing pitches other than his fastball. Still, he impressed coaches, one of whom called Pena "the real deal, watch for him next year, he could be our #3."
***It might not have been the shock of the century, but it certainly wasn't expected when Bob Melvin made the call that both Chris Snyder and Koyie Hill will start the season with the big league club. It had been assumed that only one of the still-eligible-for-Rookie of the Year players would open the season with the club and veteran Kelly Stinnett would back them up. Now the only question is which will be the everyday starter. With the dislocated thumb Snyder suffered, it seems likely that at least for a little while the job is Hill's.
***Scott Hairston was cut from the big league roster, leaving many to speculate that the veteran bullpen presence Melvin's been looking for all Spring could come via a trade for Hairston, who has performed well this Spring, but simply has no place to play on the D'Backs. A young, able bat like Hairston's is valued by virtually everyone, except of course the Diamondbacks.
***At the moment the Diamondbacks have had more ticket requests for the two exhibition games against the World Champion Boston Red Sox than any official game except opening day.
***A source tells FutureBacks.com that Conor Jackson has been offered a
small role in a baseball movie currently in pre-production and scheduled to
***At the end of last season it seemed the only player whose job was safe
was Chad Tracy. After being selected to the All-Rookie team
***Maybe it was the strained biceps tendon, or simply rust after missing most of last year to injury, but Jose Valverde may just have pitched himself off the big league roster this Spring. Coaches are quietly happy about Manager Bob Melvin's decision to keep Oscar Villarreal in the bullpen, as he will fill Valverde's spot as the primary set up guy for Greg Aquino.
***Speaking of Aquino, the young closer took longer than expected to recover from an elbow strain, but had a solid outing Sunday, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 frame with a strikeout mixed in, allowing many in the Diamondbacks front office to exhale for the first time since March 5th when the injury was diagnosed.
***It is still a long way from happening, but Sergio Santos is making it difficult for the Diamondbacks to send him down. He's hitting .275 and slugging .500 this Spring, unfortunately for him the man signed to play short for one more year while Santos recovers fully from shoulder surgery that ended Santos' 2004 early, Royce Clayton, is hitting over .300 and making more consistent contact, which is key since Melvin has indicated Clayton will likely hit in the #2 spot in the batting order.