Price Expecting More From '06 Staff

Price Expecting More From '06 Staff

Though many in and around the Diamondbacks' organization already have drawn their own conclusions about what to expect this season from Arizona's pitching staff -- an otherwise average group that will have to collectively perform at career-high levels -- Bryan Price prefers to carry a clean slate.

INSIDE PITCH
  
   As the Diamondbacks' new pitching coach, Price has an unclouded vision
about the arms he will be overseeing in spring training.
   "I'll continue to get plenty of feedback," he said, "but the great thing
about this is I get to form my own opinion. Whether guys pitched good or
pitched poor (in 2005), everybody's coming in fresh into a new environment
with me."
   The first four pitchers in the rotation are set with an all right-handed
unit of Brandon Webb, Russ Ortiz and newly acquired Orlando Hernandez and
Miguel Batista. A handful of others, including Claudio Vargas, Dustin
Nippert and left-handers Brad Halsey and Michael Gosling, will be battling
for the No. 5 spot.
   The bullpen, which finished with an atrocious 5.50 ERA, will feature Jose
Valverde as the closer and once again a predominantly right-handed group
that includes Brandon Medders, Greg Aquino, Brandon Lyon, Luis Vizcaino,
Jason Grimsley and, most likely, Terry Mulholland, the only lefty in the
group who heads to spring training as a non-roster invitee.
   Overall, there's some talent in the mix, but Arizona's staff will report
to Tucson with much to prove and a heavy burden on its shoulders. Price, who
left the Seattle Mariners to replace Mark Davis with the D-backs, won't let
speculation ruin his optimism.
   "Last year was an unusual year," he said of the Diamondbacks. "The year
before, they lost so many games (111), and yet although they didn't finish
with a .500 record (77-85), they were in a pennant race right down to the
final week of the season. And they were doing it with young guys like
Medders and Nippert and some others. My goodness, for a young, inexperienced
pitcher, that's some mighty big pressure."
   But it should serve the youngsters well, he points out. And it will be
Price's doctrine not to let one or two pitchers think they have to carry the
team on their back. How can he help? What can he do to squeeze the most
talent out of the bunch?
   He's analyzed every pitcher on video and will compare the tiniest detail
with each of them when he sees the pitchers begin throwing at the Kino
Sports Complex. He spent most of January watching a good deal of them throw
at Chase Field and liked what he saw.
   But Price's real worth figures to be his approachability and affableness.
If a pitcher is disenchanted with his role, has off-the-field concerns or
has an issue with another coach or player on the team, Price pledges he will
be the perfect buffer zone and pal.
   "My goal with these guys is to make sure they're in a strong environment
and they're as comfortable as I can allow them to be and they can just go
out there and pitch," he said. "My door will always be open."
   Price, however, will ask his starters to slam the door shut when they
take the mound. He wants them to go at least six innings every time out,
even if they allow four runs in the first and start questioning themselves.
If Price can work some magic and help them accomplish that goal, the bullpen
will remain fresh.

NOTES, QUOTES
   --OF Jeff DaVanon, who was released by the Angels in the offseason,
signed a one-year, $525,000 contract with the Diamondbacks. The deal
includes a player option for 2007 with a salary dependent upon how much time
DaVanon spends with Arizona this year. DaVanon hit .231 with two homers and
15 RBIs for the Angels last season.
   --LHP Michael Gosling was designated for assignment to clear a roster
spot for DaVanon. Gosling went 0-3 with a 4.55 ERA last season in 13 games
with the Diamondbacks.
   --The Diamondbacks have officially invited 15 non-roster players to major
camp for spring training, including top prospects Justin Upton and Carlos
Quentin.
   Most of the invitees are relievers hoping to compete for a spot in a
growing bullpen. They include left-handers Terry Mulholland and Randy Choate
and right-handers Mike Koplove, Casey Daigle and Kevin Jarvis. Other
pitchers include lefties Bill Murphy and Neal Musser.
   The rest of the list includes catchers Juan Brito and Matt Morgan,
infielders Brian Barden and Jerry Gil, and outfielders Jarred Ball and
Marland Williams.
   --Bob Gebhard, brought back as vice president and special assistant to
the GM after interviewing but not getting the GM job in Arizona, could be
added to the Cincinnati Reds' list of candidates to replace Dan O'Brien.
   Reds owner Bob Castellini initially earmarked six potential candidates,
including four within the Reds' organization along with Twins assistant GM
Wayne Krivsky and Cardinals assistant John Mozeliak. Gebhard, the former
longtime GM of the Rockies and then an adviser in St. Louis to Walt
Jocketty, got the itch to return to full-time GM duties after serving as
interim GM for the Diamondbacks following the resignation of Joe Garagiola
Jr.
   Josh Byrnes, an assistant GM under Theo Epstein in Boston the past three
years, wound up replacing Garagiola.
   --LHP David Wells is expected to be dealt by the Red Sox to a team on the
West Coast, and although Wells would prefer to return to the Padres, there's
a chance it could be Arizona if the two clubs can work out an acceptable
trade. Wells turns 43 in May and the Diamondbacks would have to get some
help on the financial end to take on the veteran, who is coming off knee
surgery.
   --LF Luis Gonzalez can pass some pretty good company in several hitting
categories this season. He's fifth among active players with 495 doubles,
three behind Al Kaline, eight behind Andre Dawson and 11 behind Babe Ruth.
His 316 homers ranks 94th all-time, one behind George Brett and three behind
Cecil Fielder.
   --Pitching coach Bryan Price is still recovering from complex surgery on
his left throwing shoulder, the result of a mountain bike crash Oct. 6 while
riding with manager Bob Melvin and bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock. Price said
he hopes to be able to throw batting practice when position players report
to camp.
   BY THE NUMBERS: 1-9 -- Russ Ortiz's record down the stretch for Arizona
in 2005, which also included three no-decisions.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'd be disappointed and I'd be upset. We all have to be
doing everything we can to help this ballclub win, and if anybody isn't
taking this thing as serious as (manager) Bob Melvin, (GM) Josh Byrnes,
ownership or myself and the rest of the coaches, then you probably don't
belong in Arizona." --Pitching coach Bryan Price, when asked what his
reaction would be if some pitchers report to camp out of shape.

ROSTER REPORT
   ARRIVALS: RHP Miguel Bautista (trade with Toronto), 2B Orlando Hudson
(trade with Toronto), CF Eric Byrnes (free agent from Baltimore), RHP
Orlando Hernandez (trade with White Sox), RHP Luis Vizcaino (trade with
White Sox), C Johnny Estrada (trade with Atlanta), LHP Jason Grimsley (free
agent from Baltimore), INF Damion Easley (free agent from Florida), LHP
Terry Mulholland (minor league free agent from Minnesota), OF Jeff DaVanon
(free agent from Angels).
   DEPARTURES: 3B Troy Glaus (traded to Toronto), RHP Javier Vazquez (traded
to White Sox), RHPs Oscar Villarreal and Lance Cormier (traded to Atlanta),
RHP Tim Worrell (free agent, signed with San Francisco), C Kelly Stinnett
(free agent, signed with New York Yankees), OF Quinton McCracken and C Kelly
Stinnett (outrighted to Triple-A Tucson, elected free agency), LHP Shawn
Estes (free agent, signed with San Diego), SS Royce Clayton (free agent,
signed with Washington).
   FREE AGENTS: OF Quinton McCracken, LHP Buddy Groom.
   ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE: None.
   IN LIMBO: INF Alex Cintron figures to be dealt during spring training.
   MEDICAL WATCH: INF/OF Scott Hairston (torn labrum in left shoulder)
should be ready for spring training.
 

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