For a player who has 30-30 on the brain -- 30 homers, 30 stolen
bases -- center fielder Chris Young could have used a healthy dose of 20-20
It may not have worked in his favor, but the top prospect that has
drawn comparisons to the great Willie Mays almost pulled off the play of
the day on Opening Day, catching but missing a deep flyball over the
center-field wall in Monday's 8-6 Arizona victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Jeff Baker's blast off Arizona reliever Brandon Medders went deep,
and so did Young, who tracked it to the wall and leaped to make the
"I was like, 'I can go get this,' " Young said.
He did, but when he slid his glove slightly down his left hand to
make the grab, his leap and his timing didn't work in his favor. Young
snagged the ball, but his momentum carried him too deep and the ball --
and his glove -- went over the fence for a home run.
"But I had it, man. I had it," Young said.
The Rockies had a 6-5 lead, but the Diamondbacks recovered in time
and eventually scored an 8-6 victory thanks to a two-run RBI single by
Eric Byrnes in the eighth inning off Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
"He threw me two sliders that were unhittable. Babe Ruth couldn't
have hit those pitches," Byrnes said of Hawkins. "I couldn't see them out
of his hand. Then, for whatever reason, he came back with a fastball on
1-2 that caught the middle of the plate."
DIAMONDBACKS 8, ROCKIES 6: Though reigning NL Cy Young Award winner
Brandon Webb struggled with his command, the Diamondbacks fought back
with some timely hitting to score a comeback victory at Coors Field. The
bullpen behind Webb did the job, which was solidified by set-up man
Brandon Lyon getting Willy Taveraz to strike out for the fourth time.
Closer Jose Valverde came on in the ninth and after allowing a leadoff
double to Todd Helton, the big right-hander struck out Matt Holliday, Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki for the save.
--RHP Brandon Webb allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five
innings, and he walked three batters in the first inning to get himself
in real trouble. Last April, Webb walked a total of just six batters
during the entire first month of the season.
--RF Eric Byrnes rolled an ankle chasing down a double by Troy Tulowitzki in the fourth inning but stayed in the game and ended up producing
the game-turning hit in the eighth.
"I thought I was going to have to take him out of there because he
really rolled that ankle, but he was saying, 'There's no way I'm coming
out of this game,' " manager Bob Melvin said. "He's a tough guy and to
see him hobbling around like that, I was sure I'd have to take him out.
But he stayed in the game and played a phenomenal game on top of that."
--CF Chris Young says all the preseason hype directed at him won't
change his approach or his demeanor.
"As much as my name might be out there," he said, "there are tons of
veteran guys out there who are great players and have a name for
themselves. You have to make adjustments, but pitchers are smart and they're
going to study everybody. The good thing is, I've got guys like Chad Tracy, Eric Byrnes, Conor Jackson and Orlando Hudson around me, and those
guys are probably going to get pitched tougher than me."
--3B Chad Tracy hit in the cleanup spot on Opening Day, something
manager Bob Melvin had said all spring probably wouldn't happen. "I've
been known to go back on what I say," Melvin said.
--2B Orlando Hudson twisted his left ankle rounding first base on a
base hit in the first inning, but it didn't bother him too much and he
forced himself to stay in the game. "I wasn't coming out. Not a
chance," he said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 43.7 -- The difference in millions the Diamondbacks
spent last season, when their payroll was $59.7 million, from the
amount they spent in 2002, when it was $102.8 million.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I came out of the game was signing autographs for
people near the clubhouse and he came by and said, 'Bardo, let me see you
in my office.' I kept signing and he came out again and said, 'Bardo!
Can I see you in my office?' I signed a couple more and I came in and he
goes, 'You making me wait? ... You made the team.' I know it wasn't a
smart thing for me to do. I mean, it was kind of a big moment in my
life." -- Rookie infielder Brian Barden on making manager Bob Melvin wait
before telling the player he made the Opening Day roster.
The Diamondbacks might be young, but their youth is top-notch and
the team is anchored by a solid starting rotation that measures up just
fine against an overall improved National League West. There isn't a ton
of power on the team, but the Diamondbacks believe there will be
strength in numbers. Manager Bob Melvin improved his staff with the offseason
hiring of bench coach Kirk Gibson and batting coach Kevin Seitzer.
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. RHP Livan Hernandez
3. LHP Doug Davis
4. RHP Edgar Gonzalez
5. RHP Micah Owings
Webb is coming off a Cy Young Award season in which he finally has
emerged as a legitimate star. His sinkerball is the best in baseball, and
even though hitters know it's coming, they don't have much success. Now
he's added a changeup that he's throwing more often in counts, further
LHP Randy Johnson is coming off back surgery, but he has made steady
strides in spring training during a rehab program that saw no setbacks
of any kind. The 43-year-old will start the season on the disabled
list, but he is expected to join the rotation on or about April 19. Johnson
will slide into the No. 2 spot behind Webb, and he could provide a
solid season if he stays healthy.
Hernandez and Davis are durable, 200-plus innings eaters, but there
are questions at the back end, where Edgar Gonzalez still is unproven,
and Owings is even greener.
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena
RHP Brandon Medders
LHP Doug Slaten
RHP Juan Cruz
RHP J.D. Durbin
RHP Dustin Nippert
Valverde gets another chance to nail down the closer's role, which
he hasn't been able to do in the past due to inconsistency. This will be
his last chance, however. The team has faith in him, but it won't be
overly patient with him and would turn to Lyon or Pena, who is likely to
be groomed for the position, if Valverde endures a meltdown of any
Behind them, there is depth in hard-throwing right-handers such as
Cruz and Medders. Slaten offers a luxury manager Bob Melvin didn't have
last season, a left-handed specialist, but his role may not be
permanent. The Diamondbacks claimed Durbin off waivers from Minnesota for depth
purposes, and they like his hard curveball. The club traded RHP Jorge Julio to Florida for RHP Yusmeiro Petit, who will begin the season in
1. SS Stephen Drew
2. 2B Orlando Hudson
3. 3B Chad Tracy
4. RF Eric Byrnes
5. LF Scott Hairston
6. 1B Conor Jackson
7. CF Chris Young
8. C Chris Snyder
Manager Bob Melvin has so many available options, he likely will mix
and match his batting order on a daily basis. That might spell trouble
on some teams, but the Diamondbacks are young enough that it shouldn't
be a problem. The players say they don't care where they hit, and
they're believable in their words.
There isn't a big bopper in the bunch, but there could be a handful
of players who hit 20 to 25 homers, and there's more speed in the
lineup than ever before, with Drew, Byrnes, Young and Hudson offering prime
threats. RF Carlos Quentin has a small labrum tear in his left,
non-throwing shoulder which could force him to open the year on the disabled
list. Should that occur, Byrnes would move to right field and Hairston
would be the club's new left fielder. Hairston is out of minor league
options, but he is big-league-ready at the plate and has been waiting for
a chance to prove himself.
Young might be the player to watch out of the entire group. He's a
five-tool player who could take the game by storm if he performs up to
expectations. The ceiling is endless. Drew has already settled in as a
slick defender and confident pro. He'll just need to stay healthy to
have a long and productive career.
1B Tony Clark
C Miguel Montero
INF Alberto Callaspo
INF Brian Barden
UT Robby Hammock
Clark had a disappointing 2006 season after a superb 2005, although
a shoulder injury might have been to blame. Montero will be molded into
an everyday starter at some point, though he will split time with
Snyder. Callaspo was coveted by dozens of teams in the offseason and
probably could start for many other clubs, but here, he's behind the likes of
Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew and Chad Tracy. He'll get plenty of
at-bats this season, however, and can play anywhere, including the outfield.
A switch hitter who rarely strikes out, he could have a breakout season
in a non-starting role.
OF Jeff DaVanon will start the year on the DL as he was slow to
recovery from left ankle and right shoulder surgeries in the fall. But at
some point, the switch hitter will be back on the bench as the club's
primary extra outfielder. Until then, the likes of Hammock and Barden
will get some early major league time.
ROOKIE WATCH: LHP Doug Slaten had an up-and-down spring, but he
earned a spot as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen. C Miguel
Montero is a top-notch prospect who has a big fan in manager Bob Melvin.
He'll get his starts and his share of at-bats, but it could be another
year before he becomes established in the lineup. OF Justin Upton, the
No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, made his second major league spring
camp and continued to impress management and the coaching staff. Though
only 19, he's hoping he can reach the majors this season. It will be at
least another year, however, until he's realistically close to
challenging for a spot.
LHP Randy Johnson (back surgery in October to repair a herniated
disk) has met every timetable in his ongoing rehab program and has looked
dominant at times during his spring work that finally included some
actual game appearances. He is expected to make his season debut on April
19 at San Diego and eventually will be slotted behind No. 1 Brandon
Webb in the rotation.
OF Jeff DaVanon (left ankle, right shoulder surgery) was slowed
during spring training, unable to effectively run or hit from the left side
of the plate. He will start the season on the disabled list.
Eventually, he will get the at-bats he missed in spring training during a rehab
assignment with Triple-A Tucson.
RF Carlos Quentin (slight labrum tear in his left, non-throwing
shoulder) started the season on the disabled list. Surgery is not being
considered, and a strengthening program should allow him to get back in
time and not miss too much action.