INSIDE PITCH Luis Gonzalez hasn't been able to dial long distance -- and he was still awaiting a long-distance call from ownership, hoping for a personal explanation as to why his name was carelessly linked to suspicions of past steroid use.
Last week, Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick told The Arizona Republic there were "whispers" about Gonzalez perhaps having used performance-enhancing drugs when Gonzalez hit 57 homers during Arizona's 2001 World Series championship season. Kendrick addressed the team as a whole back in Phoenix on Thursday, trying to express his regrets over his comments, but that apparently didn't sit well enough with Gonzalez, who has been the face of the franchise for several seasons. Last season, he was named the recipient of the Branch Rickey Award for his charitable work in the community.
During the past few days, as the Diamondbacks were completing a three-game series at the Rangers, manager Bob Melvin had done his best to try to console and comfort his star left fielder, who is in the final year of his contract. "It's my job to support my players," Melvin said. "I've been very close to him, and I have been for a while. This has been a difficult time for him. It's been a difficult time for the team. He's a guy who feels like he's been there for his club." Gonzalez, who got the game-winning hit for the Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against the Yankees, has had some difficultly settling in since the whole ordeal began, starting with revelations that former teammate Jason Grimsley had acknowledged using illegal substances, including human growth hormone.
"We're trying to keep him focused," Melvin said of Gonzalez. "Sometimes in this game, certain things can distract you. He's been one of the best to be able to go out there and concentrate on baseball. A lot of times, that is your release, going out there and playing the game you love to play."
Meanwhile, Gonzalez's career-high homerless streak reached 53 games on Sunday, as he hasn't connected since an April 20 game against San Francisco. "What's the saying? You watch a pot, it never boils?" Melvin said. "He can't escape it right now because it's been written about quite a bit. Sometimes, you press a bit, but my feeling is it will come, and when it does, it'll come in bunches."
REPLAY: The Diamondbacks' losing streak reached five games on Sunday, as the Rangers outlasted them 10-7 and Arizona lost for the 12th time in its past 13 games. The Diamondbacks have now been swept in three of their past four series, salvaging only one win during a recent three-game set with San Francisco, after having won seven of 10 prior to that. Right-hander Enrique Gonzalez gave up five earned runs in the first inning, one more than his previous four outings combined, as his ERA shot from 1.64 to 3.67. Reliever Luis Vizcaino (2-3) was charged with the loss after giving up an RBI single to Michael Young and a two-run double to Mark Teixeira.
"This is wearing on us," said catcher Johnny Estrada, noting the Diamondbacks have been outscored 25-4 in the first inning during the past 12 games.
NOTES, QUOTES --RHP Juan Cruz, on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, played catch on Sunday and is tentatively scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday before going on a minor league rehab assignment. After Cruz developed some tightness in the shoulder last week following a side session, he was expected to only make one rehab outing, but that now could change to a minimum of two.
--Manager Bob Melvin faces surgery on his left wrist to repair a sheath surrounding a tendon in his forearm that ripped during a charity golf tournament in the spring. Melvin would likely have the operation during the All-Star break and wouldn't miss any time away from the club. It would keep him, however, from being added to Houston manager Phil Garner's support staff for the National League squad at next month's All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. Melvin was seen as a likely candidate to be picked by Garner, a longtime friend.
--RHP Jorge Julio has held right-handers to a .133 average (2-for-15) and lefties to a .056 average (1-for-18) since his acquisition from the Mets for RHP Orlando Hernandez. Julio said that despite Arizona's recent slide, he is confident the team will challenge for the National League West title and is looking forward to re-signing with the Diamondbacks in the offseason. "I want to be with this team because I like this team," said Julio, who is arbitration-eligible and won't become a free agent until after the 2007 season. "I see a lot of good things with his organization."
--LHP Terry Mulholland is eligible to be activated off the 15-day disabled list on Monday, but the Diamondbacks don't appear to be in any hurry to have him rejoin the club. Mulholland, who was sidelined with an inner ear infection, remained in Phoenix and was throwing on the side. The team did not give any further details as to his availability.
--RHP Kevin Jarvis (0-1 with an 11.91 ERA) remains the tentative starter for Thursday's game at Tampa Bay, although that could change as the club was contemplating a potential series of roster moves. Jarvis was tagged for eight earned runs on Saturday against the Rangers in his first start in the majors since September 12, 2003.
BY THE NUMBERS: 57 -- Home runs hit by Luis Gonzalez in 2001, 26 more than any other season in his career.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know about troubling. (Kendrick) is trying to protect the game of baseball in his own way. It's unfortunate that I have to sit here to defend myself for no reason. Every time I put the Diamondback uniform, I try to represent them the best I can. I have a commitment to the community to go out there and play hard and do the best I can out there. I know Ken is trying to do the right things. It's unfortunate that this had to come out like this." -- Luis Gonzalez, responding to rumors about players that may have used performance enhancers, which were brought up by Diamondbacks general managing partner E.G. "Ken" Kendrick in the Arizona Republic.
ROSTER REPORT MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Terry Mulholland, who had been on the disabled list with inflammation in his left elbow, was activated June 3. He returned to the disabled list June 6 with an inner ear infection. RHP Juan Cruz was placed on the disabled list with a sore shoulder June 7. He felt some stiffness June 13, and he is scheduled for a bullpen session June 20. He could begin a rehab assignment this week.