"Yeah, We're Fading Fast"

Posted Aug 23, 2006

Between a porous bullpen, an ulcerated stomach, and now the absence of their #5 hitter, the D'Backs appear poised to be in a free fall heading into September. Can they right the ship in time?

Carlos Quentin's first night on the job as the Diamondbacks' new everyday right fielder didn't go so well. Ditto for Stephen Drew, who unofficially began his reign as the club's starting shortstop, a position he's had for a while now but one that didn't carry the same weight until Craig Counsell returned from the disabled list Tuesday.
Quentin committed a first-inning throwing error that led to one of two runs against ace pitcher Brandon Webb, and Drew went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as the Diamondbacks dropped a 7-6 decision to the Giants at AT&T Park.
Earlier, Quentin, 23, was handed the keys to right field when the Diamondbacks completed a trade to send veteran Shawn Green, 33, to the Mets along with cash for left-handed pitching prospect Evan MacLane, 23.
"Shawn's a great person, a great team guy and a great player," Quentin said. "I'm obviously going to get a chance to play, and I just hope to take advantage of it."
Quentin's batting average has dipped steadily the past several games, but Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said the team is comfortable with Quentin replacing Green.
"Like a lot of our hitters, his average isn't as good in August as it was in July, but he plays very good defense and we trust his play," Byrnes said of Quentin. "We've got 37 games to try and get in (the playoffs), and we believe Carlos is going to be a big part of this."
Quentin and Drew are two of three rookie starters in the lineup, the other being first baseman Conor Jackson. Another rookie, outfielder Chris Young, was recently recalled from Triple-A Tucson and will get some starts in center field when Eric Byrnes moves from center to right to give Quentin occasional days off.
MacLane was 9-8 with a 3.86 ERA in 20 starts for Triple-A Norfolk. He has yet to pitch in the majors and is not on the 40-man roster. Josh Byrnes likens MacLane to lefty pitcher Matt Chico, whom the Diamondbacks dealt to Washington last month as part of the Livan Hernandez deal.
"It's good to replace some pitching inventory," he said, adding the scouting reports have been favorable on MacLane, who will report to Triple-A Tucson.
As for Green, the Diamondbacks will cover as much as $6.3 million of his remaining salary from this year and next, when he is due $9.5 million. Green said he has often thought about playing for New York in the past, and said he didn't want to pass on the opportunity. If he had, he said, "I would have always wondered what it would have been like."
REPLAY: Arizona rallied for three runs in the ninth inning Tuesday, but it wasn't enough to come back against the Giants, who scored four run off reliever Tony Pena in the eighth to take a 7-6 victory and win the first two games of their three-game series at AT&T Park.
Diamondbacks catcher Johnny Estrada went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, but he grounded out to end the game with a runner in scoring position. Estrada said the Diamondbacks, who have lost six of nine games on their 10-game trip, are in a serious jam.
"Yeah, we're fading fast, man," he said. "The Dodgers are playing well. The Giants look to be rolling. I don't know what the standings are now, but I know we're not knocking at the door anymore."
Arizona has been scuffling in every area as of late, from withered offense to spotty defense and a lack of quality relief pitching.
"That's the way it's been going, up and down, up and down," Estrada said, "and we can't expect to make the playoffs playing this way down the stretch."

--RHP Brandon Webb raked fifth in the National League in fewest walks per nine innings (1.8) going into Tuesday's start at San Francisco, but he walked three batters and hit one in the first three innings alone. He's allowed 27 walks in his past 11 starts after issuing just 13 over his first 15 starts to the season.
--The Diamondbacks could have used RF Shawn Green on Wednesday in their series finale against Giants RHP Jason Schmidt, who is 11-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his past 15 starts against the Diamondbacks. Green, who was traded to the Mets on Tuesday, is 18-for-42 (.429) with three homers in his career against Schmidt.
--SS Craig Counsell (right rib fracture) was activated off the disabled list Tuesday and was available off the bench, but didn't play. Counsell, nursing a slight hamstring pull, isn't quite 100 percent but could see some action Wednesday in San Francisco or Friday at home against the Dodgers.
--RHP Brandon Medders has some soreness in his throwing shoulder, but manager Bob Melvin said he doesn't think that's the reason the reliever has struggled in four of his past five appearances. He stayed away from Medders on Tuesday and might try to give him more rest Wednesday, as Arizona doesn't play Thursday.
--LF Luis Gonzalez, who isn't expected to have his $10 million option picked up by the Diamondbacks for 2007, apparently is willing to renegotiate a deal to stay in Arizona beyond this season. "At this point, we welcome an opportunity to sit down with the Diamondbacks and explore the possibility of Luis remaining a Diamondback before he goes through the free agent process," agent Gregg Clifton said.
--C Johnny Estrada, who went 4-for-5 in Tuesday's loss to the Giants, said he will skip having an endoscopy during Thursday's day off so he could spend it with his family. Estrada, who has been diagnosed with a stomach ulcer, has altered his diet and is taking medication for his condition. The endoscopy would show if he truly has an ulcer or not, but Estrada said he may put off the procedure until the season is over, saying, "If I have an ulcer, then all I can do is keep taking the medication I'm on anyway."

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