The re-signing of first baseman/pinch hitter/clubhouse glue Tony Clark leaves the Diamondbacks with one more order of business in the month before pitchers and catchers report to spring training: fleshing out the pitching staff.
The D-backs are looking for a starter to replace Randy Johnson, who signed with San Francisco the day after Christmas, and may be in the market for another bullpen arm following the departure of free agents Brandon Lyon and Juan Cruz. However, neither of the relievers has signed yet, and Lyon has said he would welcome a return to the D-Backs, even as a setup man.
Veteran free agent starters Carl Pavano (Cleveland) and John Smoltz (Boston) are off the market, although each likely was out of the Arizona's price range to begin with, in part because of the D-backs' policy not to include incentive clauses in new contracts, something that any pitcher
coming off an injury would seek.
"We are still pursuing a variety of options in the marketplace," general manager Josh Byrnes said in an online chat on the team's
website. "Hopefully, there will be good values either in trade or free agency. We have considered a few starting pitchers, but we will not necessarily acquire one."
Yusmeiro Petit is tentatively listed as the fifth starter, and he had some success as a spot starter in 2008.
Billy Buckner and Cesar Valdez could provide Petit with some competition
for that role in spring training. The D-backs also are keeping the eye on the free agent market to add to a rotation that is fronted by Brandon Webb and Dan Haren and also includes Doug Davis and Max Scherzer.
--The Diamondbacks have shown interest in RHP Chad Cordero, and they
attended his two flat-ground throwing sessions in California on January 7th and 9th. Cordero had 127 saves from 2003-07 but missed almost all of the 2008 season with a torn labrum that was surgically repaired July 8th. He likely will seek a contract that would include performance bonuses, deals the D-backs have not done in the past. Arizona traded for RHP Jon Rauch, the man who replaced Cordero as Washington's closer last season. Rauch will begin this season as a setup man but could be considered as a closer candidate.
--The Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority is considering a proposal to let a Japanese pro team train in Tucson to give the city a third team in 2010. The D-backs and Rockies will
be the only major league teams in Tucson this spring after the White Sox paid $5 million to buy out the remaining four years of their least at the Kino Sports Complex and move to Glendale, where they will share a facility with the Dodgers. The D-backs have shared a facility with the White Sox in Tucson since 1998.
--C Jae Yun Kim is the D-backs' first Korean player since they signed RHP Byung-Hyun Kim
(no relation) in 1997. Jae Yun Kim played for the gold-medal-winning Korean under-18 team last summer in the World Junior Championships in Edmonton, Albertar. Director of Pacific Rim operations Mack Hayashi and scout Chad MacDonald were instrumental in signing Kim.
--LHP Travis Blackley could contend for the final spot in the rotation after being signed as a minor league free agent this winter. Blackley, 26, went 5-10 with a 5.41 ERA for Class AAA Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia organization in 2008, striking out 87 in 123 innings. He has made eight major league starts: six with Seattle in 2004 and two with San Francisco in 2007, going 1-3 with a 9.35 ERA
total. He will be reunited with pitching coach Bryan Price, who has been the Diamondbacks' pitching coach since 2006 after serving in that capacity with the Mariners from 2000-2005.
--OF Gerardo Parra, considered the top position-player prospect in the Arizona system, hit .329 with seven home runs and 44 RBI for Zulia of the Venezuelan winter league.
The 21-year old outfielder led the league with 246 at-bats and 20 doubles and tied for the league lead with 81 hits. Parra, who played in the Futures Game last summer, was batting .542 in his first four playoff games
as the leadoff hitter.
DIAMOND STAT: 115 -- LHP Randy Johnson's victories with the D-backs (1999-2004, 2007-08). He has 133 victories with Seattle (1989-1998), 34 with the Yankees (1995-96), 10 with Houston (1998) and three with Montreal (1988-89).
QUOTABLE: "In 2009, we will view him as a competitor. In the longer view, he will wear a Diamondbacks hat in Cooperstown." -- Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes, after LHP Randy Johnson signed with a one-year contract with San Francisco.
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