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
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
"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
--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
--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
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