Medders Adds Responsibility; Injury Update


Posted May 24, 2006


Brandon Medders was expected to be a major contributor to the D'Backs bullpen before a spring training injury, now manager Bob Melvin thinks he might be ready to assume the role; ALSO: First inning stats; Estrada quietly produces; Ortiz, Mulholland updates

INSIDE PITCH
As a musician on the side, Diamondbacks relief pitcher Brandon Medders knows how important it is to be in tune and on time. After a slow start to the season, brought about by a nagging muscle strain in his upper right back at the beginning of spring training, Medders has found his groove.
The singer-guitarist has allowed just one run over his past 12 appearances for a 0.63 ERA and is resembling the pitcher that had a 1.33 ERA over his final 23 outings with Arizona in 2006, when he held opponents to a .178 average and struck out 31 in 27 innings.
Medders had been pitching in middle relief, usually throwing an inning before manager Bob Melvin turned to Brandon Lyon and Luis Vizcaino for set-up duty ahead of closer Jose Valverde. But Medders, who was to challenge for that role before he hurt himself the day before spring workouts began in Tucson, could be on the verge of owning a new gig.
Manager Bob Melvin wasn't ready to make it official, but he's been waiting for Medders to strut this kind of stuff and has been impressed with what he's seen.
"It looks like his confidence is back," Melvin said. "We feel like his stuff is crisper. He's throwing the ball where he wants to. He's using all his pitches. He's to the point where he's in that group where we'd consider him in either a tied or plus game."
Melvin conceded that he probably leaned on Vizcaino a little too much and with Medders' progression, this has been a good time to give Vizcaino a bit of a rest.
REPLAY: By winning the first two games of their series with the Pirates, which included Tuesday night's 7-3 win, the Diamondbacks have captured six consecutive series at home and will look for their first series sweep this season at Chase Field. They haven't done that since taking three from the Dodgers in Phoenix last Sept. 20-22.
Arizona got six solid innings from Claudio Vargas and a pair of home runs from Johnny Estrada and Conor Jackson in winning for the seventh time in their past nine games.

NOTES, QUOTES
--SS Craig Counsell has a season-high seven-game hitting streak after collecting a third-inning base hit Tuesday against the Pirates. He's hitting .433 during the stretch, going 13-for-30.
--3B Chad Tracy has a six-game hitting streak in which he is batting .370 (10-for-27) and CF Eric Byrnes extended his to a season-best eight games (.378, 14-for-37).
--Arizona's starting pitchers are 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA (28 innings) over their last four games.
--C Johnny Estrada's two-run home run off Pittsburgh's Victor Santos gave him the team lead in RBIs with 31. He had been tied with Chad Tracy at 29. Estrada has hit in the seventh spot 27 times, but higher only twice, including Tuesday, when he batted sixth.
--The Diamondbacks turned a double play in the ninth inning Tuesday against Pittsburgh, extending their club-record streak in which they have turned at least one to 14 consecutive games.
BY THE NUMBERS: 43 -- Runs scored by the opposition in the first inning through Arizona's first 41 games. By The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, had scored only 16 runs in the first.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm trying. Believe me, I'm trying to bring it down. Sometimes, maybe it works, but it's really just one speed. That's the toughest thing for me, trying to figure out that level. As I've been around the game and played a little bit more, hopefully, I can figure out a nice medium." -- Center fielder Eric Byrnes on playing with one speed: wound-up, excitable fast.

ROSTER REPORT
MEDICAL WATCH:
LHP Terry Mulholland went on the 15-day disabled list April 12 with inflammation in his left elbow. He was scheduled to start an injury-rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson on May 21.
RHP Russ Ortiz went on the 15-day disabled list May 2 with a right calf strain. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson on May 16.
RHP Orlando Hernandez left his start May 16 with a mid-back strain and knee pain. But he pitched effectively in his May 22 start.



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