Scherzer Sent Down; Buckner Called Up
Billy Buckner (Photo: Ken Weisenberger)
Senior Editor
Posted Jun 14, 2008


The Arizona Diamondbacks promoted pitching prospect Billy Buckner to the major leagues Friday, and Buckner responded with an extra-inning win the same day. To make room for Buckner, the D-backs returned top prospect Max Scherzer to Triple-A Tucson.

Billy Buckner came to the Diamondbacks in a December deal in which troubled infielder Alberto Callaspo was dealt to the Kansas City Royals.  Buckner got promoted to the majors to eat innings out of the bullpen, resting the team's other arms.  In an appropriate happenstance, Buckner defeated his former team in his Diamondbacks debut, thanks to a Chad Tracy extra-inning walkoff homer.

"We saw [Buckner] in Spring Training some," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got a real good curveball. He's working on his changeup. His fastball is kind of up and down, in and out."

Buckner started 14 games for the Tucson Sidewinders, going 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA.  He was winless in April with a 7.94 ERA, but rebounded with a 4-2 record and 2.60 ERA over his final eight starts prior to the callup.  His most recent Triple-A outing featured eight shutout innings on June 10th.

Max Scherzer returned to Tucson despite a terrific month-and-a-half in the majors in which he posted a 2.90 ERA through 31 innings.  He had succeeded both in starter and relief roles, but the demotion allows the organization to limit the innings of a top prospect who only threw 90.2 frames with Diamondbacks affiliates last season.

"It's certainly not performance-based. He did terrific for us," Melvin said. "We needed a little bit more length and we had a need for guys to be able to go back-to-back days. ... He hasn't done that before."

The organization has not committed to using Scherzer as a starter or reliever in Tucson.  If he is used as a starter, he may often find his spot in the rotation skipped for extra rest.

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