Deposed closer Jose Valverde received an even tougher pill to swallow on
Monday when he was optioned to Triple-A Tucson. The Diamondbacks want him to
work on a few issues in his mechanics and rediscover the right pitch selection
that made him one of the National League's better bullpen anchors during the
first six weeks of the season.
Valverde, 2-3 with 14 saves, but none in more than a month and an ERA of 8.22, will close games in the Pacific Coast League until he gets things right. Jorge Julio will remain the Diamondbacks' closer indefinitely.
"Obviously, it's a difficult (decision) for us," manager Bob Melvin said. "This is a guy who saved 14 games and a guy that's been a dominant closer at the end of last season. ... We moved him back to try and have him work on some things and get back into the role he was accustomed to pitching in, but he just wasn't pitching enough."
Since losing his closer's job after a series of outings in which he blew late-inning leads and lost games, Valverde had worked in long to middle relief and had shown glimpses of his former self. But every two good outings seemed to be followed by a bad one, and he wasn't getting enough appearances on a regular basis to consistently get to where he needed to be.
He took the news of his demotion, however, rather well, according to Melvin.
"He was actually fine," Melvin said, when asked for Valverde's reaction. "It's a shock for anybody ... but at least to me, he was OK with it and he was looking forward to getting down there and pitching in games consistently and doing whatever he can to regain his form."
Valverde would get into stretches when he relied almost exclusively on his explosive fastball. Then, he'd slide to the other extreme and try to make up for it by throwing too many breaking balls, losing the effect of his fastball entirely.
"This isn't how we want to use Jose," pitching coach Bryan Price said, referring to Valverde's middle-inning work lately. "He's much better than that."
REPLAY: The Diamondbacks had their three-game winning streak snapped as they got only three innings from starting pitcher Juan Cruz, were guilty of three errors and hit the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra three times with pitches in a 10-3 loss at Dodger Stadium.
"I don't remember the last time someone's been hit three times in a game. We're certainly not trying to hit him," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll just move on tomorrow. I don't think there's any animosity involved."
Cruz, who was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day after not pitching since June 1 at Atlanta, allowed seven hits and four earned runs in three innings before being lifted because his pitch count (65) was starting to get too high.
"He velocity wasn't where it usually is, his breaking ball wasn't sharp, he couldn't get his fastball over the plate, so he was a little rusty," Melvin said.
--Manager Bob Melvin and LHP Randy Choate were ejected in the seventh inning when Choate hit the Dodgers' Nomar Garciaparra with a pitch, the third time the first baseman had been hit by a pitch in the game, tying a major league record. Garciaparra is the 16th National League player to be hit three times in a game.
--RHP Edgar Gonzalez will pitch in long relief now that RHP Jose Valverde has been sent to Triple-A Tucson to make room on the roster for RHP Juan Cruz, who came off the DL and started Monday's game at Dodger Stadium. Arizona hasn't had a true long reliever since RHPs Kevin Jarvis and Jason Grimsley were moved off the roster. Gonzalez got a taste of it right away, coming in early for an ineffective Cruz and getting charged for four earned runs in 1 2/3 innings.
--RF Shawn Green, who went 3-for-4 Monday, on getting booed at Dodger Stadium every time he came to bat, which happens every time he returns to his former ballpark: "It's not just me. They boo all former Dodgers there. They boo (Mike) Piazza, and (Adrian) Beltre said he got booed his first time back. That's just the way it is at Dodger Stadium. I'd be surprised if I wasn't booed."
--1B Tony Clark, who had been bothered by a sore right shoulder, has progressed enough that he likely will make a start at first base Tuesday against the Dodgers.
--When RHPs Miguel Batista and Brandon Webb threw back-to-back complete games on Saturday and Sunday at Oakland, it marked just the fourth time two pitchers had accomplished that feat for Arizona and just the first time that both pitchers were credited with a victory.
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Errors this season by second baseman Orlando Hudson through 80 games, equaling his entire season total from 2005 when he won the Gold Glove for second basemen in the American League while with Toronto.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The virus is not in the sheets, it is in the body of the man that is lying on top of them." -- RHP Miguel Batista, on the Diamondbacks' 4-20 slide to end the month of June and when asked, in general, how the team can turn its season around.
RHP Juan Cruz, who had been out since June 7 with a sore shoulder, was activated and started July 3.
OF Scott Hairston went on the disabled list retroactive to June 20 with a right shoulder injury.
1B Tony Clark has been playing sparingly due to "general soreness" in his right shoulder. An MRI revealed no structural damage. He hopes to get the start July 4.
You may have noticed that the Diamondbacks have gone 2-16 since the Jason Grimsley revelation. …