Slaten Has Key Role in Diamondbacks Bullpen
Doug Slaten (Getty Images)

Posted Apr 18, 2007


April has looked nothing like March to left-handed reliever Doug Slaten, who is the sole southpaw in the Arizona bullpen with has closer's stuff. ALSO: Micah Owings strains his hamstring on the base paths Tuesday night.

INSIDE PITCH

April has looked nothing like March to left-handed reliever Doug Slaten.

The rookie has been sensational thus far out of Arizona's bullpen, carding a spotless 0.00 ERA after six appearances. This, after a rocky spring in which there were multiple question marks about his consistency, ability to focus and perhaps even his desire.

But he looks nothing like that pitcher now, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin is proud to report.

"He's a guy we've said all along we don't think is just a matchup lefty (to face left-handed hitters exclusively)," Melvin said. "He's a guy we can run through against right-handers. He's got the weapons. "I know his confidence is completely different than what we saw in spring training. It's a guy pitching with a lot of confidence, and he knows we have confidence in him."

Slaten is developing the mental toughness and dogged tenacity of a closer, although that isn't in the plans for him in Arizona. "We see him in the role he's in now," Melvin said. "We think he's good where he's at."

Slaten's turnaround has sparked an equal comeback by the Diamondbacks bullpen, which was criticized during spring training for probably being one of the team's biggest weaknesses.

"Going into the year, there were some doubts about the bullpen," Melvin said. "Now we've only played a small sampling of games, but so far, they've been lights out. As a group, they've pitched very, very well, and they've been very consistent."

DODGERS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 4:
Arizona's bullpen couldn't hold a one-run lead after starter Micah Owings left the game in the fourth inning with a hamstring injury, and the Dodgers broke through in the seventh with two runs to snap a 4-4 tie and sweep a two-game set at Chase Field.

Owings, who collected the first two RBIs of his major league career, suffered what manager Bob Melvin called a mild strain to the hamstring, which occurred as the rookie was rounding second base on a fourth-inning hit by Alberto Callaspo.

"It was the right thing to do to get him out of there," Melvin said. "But we think he can make his next start. That'll be determined after his bullpen (session on Thursday or Friday).

NOTES, QUOTES


--INF Brian Barden, who was optioned to Class AAA Tucson, will get his chance to return, Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

"He just needs to get some at-bats because it wasn't doing him any good being here right now and not getting any playing time," Melvin said. "He got one start and got his first big-league hit out of the way, which is great. But I expect to see Brian Barden back here at some point.

"We feel like he's part of the group we have here. I told our guys in spring training, 'If you don't start with this 25, well, 25 typically means 35.' I talked about there being a 35-man group at the end of spring training and down in Triple-A, we expect you to stay on top of your game, don't pout and don't get an attitude about being down there because you can get called up quickly."

--RHP Micah Owings, who hit .382 last season at the Class AA and Class AAA levels and whose 69 career home runs in high school in Georgia were one shy of the all-time national prep record, undoubtedly will get a chance to pinch-hit on occasion for the Diamondbacks.

"If you can handle the bat in the National League, it could come into play at some point," manager Bob Melvin said. "This kid's got as much power to the opposite field as anybody we have here."

--SS Stephen Drew, who was hitless in his previous 11 at-bats and was batting .196, did not start Tuesday against the Dodgers. UT Alberto Callaspo made the start and went 2-for-5.

--RHP Brandon Webb makes his fourth start of the season on Wednesday at San Diego, looking to improve on his 5.21 ERA. Webb is opening up a bit too much in his delivery, causing his notoriously heavy sinkerball to run off the plate.

--Arizona has 32 doubles, a total that leaves them tied for first in the National League with Florida.


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3B Brian Barden (profile)
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