Diamondbacks' Chris Young: "I Had It"

Diamondbacks' Chris Young: "I Had It"

Chris Young will experience even more comparisons to Willie Mays after nearly making an outstanding opening day grab, but he says the hype doesn't affect him. ALSO: The Opening Day Arizona Diamondbacks Roster Report, plus quotes from opening day hero Eric Byrnes and rookie Brian Barden.

INSIDE PITCH

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 vision.

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 grab.

"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.


NOTES, QUOTES

--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.


ROSTER REPORT

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.

ROTATION:
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 stymieing batters.

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.

BULLPEN:
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 significance.

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 Triple-A.

LINEUP:
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.

RESERVES:

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.

MEDICAL WATCH:

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.

DiamondbacksDaily.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Forums


1 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets