The Diamondbacks began their remodeling Tuesday by trading left fielder Conor Jackson to Oakland for minor league right-hander Sam Demel, a move that will chip away at both of their issues going forward: a high payroll and low production in the bullpen.
Jackson's salary is $3.1 million this season, and the D-backs will save about half that much in the deal, dropping their payroll into the $78 million range. Jackson, 28, also has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, and unless his production had risen drastically the second half of the season, it was unlikely that the D-backs would have tendered him a contract for 2011, which would have made him a free agent.
"It got to a business decision," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "(The outfield) is an area where we have some depth. Whether to arbitrate with Conor was a debate. Demel is a reliever we like. We feel like he is ready to go."
Demel, 24, has 42 saves in 3 1/2 minor league seasons after being a third-round pick in the 2007 draft out of Texas Christian. He is expected to join the D-backs on Wednesday, when a corresponding player move will be made. Demel has 200 strikeouts in 180 2/3 minor league innings. He was 2-0 with six saves and a 1.26 ERA in 22 appearances for Class AAA Sacramento this season.
He had 18 saves at Class A Stockton in 2008 and 14 while splitting time between Class AA Midland and Sacramento last season.
"Sam Demel gives us another quality arm in our attempt to improve the bullpen," Byrnes said.
Gerardo Parra, a left-handed hitter, started in left field at Boston on Tuesday, and he is expected to get the majority of time in place of Jackson. Parra is hitting .250 with one home run and 10 RBI. Jackson was hitting .238 with one homer and 11 RBI after missing the final five months of 2009 due to an illness.
Rusty Ryal, a right-handed batter, pinch-hit for Parra and remained in Tuesday's game in left field, and he is a candidate to be a platoon partner with Parra. Ryan Roberts played 16 games in left last season, and Class AAA Reno outfielder Cole Gillespie also is an option. Gillespie hit .256 with a homer in 17 games with the D-backs earlier this season, when Jackson was sidelined with a hamstring injury. He is hitting .296 with four homers at Reno.
RED SOX 6, DIAMONDBACKS 3: RHP Ian Kennedy gave up six earned runs in six innings, the most he has allowed since his second start of the season, and the D-backs tied a franchise record with their 11th consecutive road loss in the first game of a six-game trip to Boston and Detroit. RF Justin Upton doubled off the left field wall to drive in two runs with no outs in the fourth inning, but the D-backs had only two hits the rest of the way. C Miguel Montero hit his second double in as many starts since returning from the disabled list Saturday.
--RHP Ian Kennedy gave up six runs Tuesday, snapping a string of eight consecutive starts in which he gave up three runs or fewer. Seven of those were quality starts. Kennedy, 3-4 with a 3.57 ERA, had given up only nine earned runs in his previous five starts, covering 32 innings. "I felt like he was pressing and trying to be a little too perfect with his pitches," manager A.J. Hinch said. "(The Red Sox) have a tough lineup. Very rarely do you get early outs."
--The D-backs tied a franchise record with their 11th consecutive road loss Tuesday, falling 6-3 to Boston. The D-backs fell to Florida on May 18 before losing all nine games of the most recent road trip to Colorado, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The opener in Boston followed a 6-4 homestand that included series victories over Colorado and St. Louis and a split against Atlanta. The 2008 D-backs lost 11 consecutive road games from Aug. 17 to Sept. 19.
--INF Tony Abreu was activated from the disabled list Tuesday to fill the roster spot created when LF Conor Jackson was traded to Oakland for minor league RHP Sam Demel. Abreu, a switch hitter, singled in four at-bats while starting at DH against Boston RHP Clay Buchholz. His presence gave the D-backs six left-handed bats in the lineup. Abreu, who suffered a sprained left wrist on a tag play at second base May 23, went 5-for-12 with two doubles, an RBI and a stolen base in a three-game rehab assignment at Class AAA Reno last weekend. He is hitting .310 with six doubles and five RBI for the D-backs and has made starts at second base, shortstop and third base. Demel is expected to join the team Wednesday, when another roster move must be made.
--The D-backs opened the third series in franchise history in Fenway Park on Tuesday. They swept a three-game set in 2002 before losing two of three in 2008. Many players admit the tradition of the place is alluring. "You grow up playing baseball and you get to experience something like that ... If you're not in awe for a little bit, hell, you're not human," C Chris Snyder said.
--The D-backs are 86-105 in interleague play after losing the first game of 12 consecutive games against AL opponents -- three-game series against Boston, Detroit, New York and Tampa Bay, with only the Yankees series in Arizona. The D-backs, who do not have a natural rival to match up against, took two out of
three games from Toronto on the opening weekend of interleague play May 21-23. The combined winning percentage of the D-backs' interleague opponents this season is .582.
DIAMOND STAT: 3 -- Career walk-off home runs by CF Chris Young, whose two-run walk-off June 13 was his second homer of the game in a 7-5 victory over St. Louis.
QUOTABLE: "I feel I'm progressing. I'll take anything." -- RHP Brandon Webb, who threw off a mound for the first time in 100 days June 12 while recovering from August shoulder surgery.
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