Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes has said it's the kids'
turn to see what they can do, and with that, the young executive has
reached into his pockets and tossed the car keys of the franchise to the
likes of Chris Young, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew and Conor Jackson.
Now he has to hope they won't crash.
There have been younger teams in the majors, but Arizona most
certainly will be among the youngest in baseball this season -- at least in
terms of its everyday position players -- and the youngsters are being
counted upon to help make the Diamondbacks legitimate contenders.
Though they will have a fairly solid pitching rotation on which to
lean, from Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson to Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis, it
won't be an easy task.
"That's one thing (manager) Bob Melvin and the coaches keep telling
us, that everything's earned up here," said right fielder Quentin, 24.
"You're fighting for a job. The last thing they want is any type of
"This is the ultimate level, there's a lot of pressure here, but we
have to embrace it, stay sharp and be ready because somebody is always
there to take your job. We've got to stay hungry and have that fire."
That wasn't so much the case just a few years ago, when some of the
club's top prospects at the time seemed far too comfortable and
nonchalant soon after being recalled from the minors to help out a
injury-riddled roster. Veteran players questioned some of the youngsters' work
ethics and dedication and voiced those concerns to management.
But this specific group seems different and perhaps even destined
for something far greater and more memorable.
"It's not all about potential, it's about performance," Byrnes said.
"These guys dominated in the minors, and Drew, Quentin and Jackson
showed in the majors in their first extended playing time that they can
play well at this level, too.
"They all can do enough defensively so that even if there are some
growing pains offensively, they're going to be able to help us win
games. And I think history suggests that it isn't as long of a learning
curve as you might think."
Byrnes points out the rapid rise of such young talent in the majors
as Webb, who won the National League Cy Young Award last season at age
27, along with the likes of Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, Phillies
slugger Ryan Howard and the Marlins pitching staff.
"I think our guys will perform, too, enough to give us a chance to
win this year," Byrnes said.
--RHP Brandon Webb missed his scheduled start on March 17 because of
a stiff neck suffered earlier in the week. The neck began bothering
Webb when he was playing catch, but it wasn't thought to be a major
concern. His range of motion was limited, however, and he was to be monitored
daily. He was to pitch in a simulated game before resuming his normal
--LHP Randy Johnson visited Dr. Robert Watkins, a Los Angeles spine
specialist, for a routine checkup to monitor the progress of the
veteran's rehab from October back surgery to repair a herniated disk. Johnson
was one more side session against hitters away from making his Cactus
--LF Eric Byrnes has made it a priority this spring to try to use
the whole field instead of solely relying on trying to pull the ball. Of
his career-high 26 home runs in 2006, the right-handed hitter hit none
to right field.
"There's a whole other side if the field I've never used in my
career," Byrnes said. "(Pulling the ball) is my strength; I know that. If I
can use the whole field, I think I can become a lot better baseball
--The Diamondbacks optioned INFs Danny Richar and Emilio Bonifacio,
OFs Carlos Gonzalez and Alex Romero, LHP Evan MacLane and RHP Jailen Peguero to minor league camp and reassigned OF Justin Upton, RHP Adam Bass and C Wilkin Castillo to minor league camp.
--OF Jeff DaVanon, who likely will start the season on the disabled
list as he slowly recovers from left ankle and right knee surgeries, on
watching his competition: "I'm a bench player, and I see these guys in
here and they're bigger, stronger and faster. I want to be able to be
out there and show I can still contribute to the team, too."
BY THE NUMBERS: 53 -- Number of pitches thrown by LHP Randy Johnson
in his first look at live hitting during a batting practice session
with six hitters. 8 -- Number of swings that produced hits against Johnson
in the same side session, with only one ball struck well to the
outfield by minor league C Josh Ford.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I never want to rule anything out. A lot of times
it's a tougher road for a guy you haven't started the clock on and has
options and so forth." -- Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin on RHP Micah
Owings' chances of making the 25-man roster, which could be a reach
seeing as he isn't on the 40-man roster and doesn't need to be protected for
another two years.