Demel and Heilman Headline Bullpen Shakeup
Aaron Heilman (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Posted Jun 17, 2010


New reliever Sam Demel threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning Wednesday and Aaron Heilman has been moved to the closer's role as the Arizona Diamondbacks attempt to find a mix that works in their historically bad bullpen.

Sam Demel threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning Wednesday in his major league debut at Fenway Park, and that was just part of the Diamondbacks' bullpen shakeup.

Aaron Heilman will be used in save situations moving forward, manager A.J. Hinch said, with Chad Qualls relinquishing the closer role, at last in the short term. Heilman (2-1, 2.87 ERA) is Arizona's only reliever with an ERA under 4.37.

Qualls (1-3, 8.47 ERA) has 12 saves, but his four blown save chances are tied for second in the majors. He has given up a combined eight hits and seven runs (six earned) in his two most recent outings, each of which lasted only one-third of an inning.

"I'm going to mix things up a little bit. I would say the majority of the opportunities will go to Heilman, but he might be needed in the seventh or eighth, too," Hinch said. "We'll piece it together at the end the best we can, but right now, I'm going to take the guarantee of the back end away from Qualls and let him work things out in a different role."

Neither Heilman nor Qualls have been needed in the first two games of the Boston series, both won by the Red Sox. The D-backs lost their franchise-record 12th consecutive road game Wednesday.

Demel got in the game in his first day as a major-leaguer after being acquired from Oakland in exchange for Conor Jackson.

"I just said, 'Run to the mound, don't fall, pick up the ball and do what you do,'" Demel said. "It's an opportunity for me. If someone wants to put me in the big leagues, I'll take it. I'm ready."

The 24-year-old reliever got Adrian Beltre to ground out and J.D. Drew to fly out before striking out Mike Cameron to end the inning. He came with Arizona trailing 6-2.

"He showed a lot of poise and composure," manager A.J. Hinch said.  "His stuff was good."

Demel, 6 feet and 185 pounds, went 2-0 with six saves a 1.26 ERA this season for Class AAA Sacramento. He had 28 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.

"He's a little deceptive," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "He can create an arm angle. He throws a better breaking ball than some of our guys."

RED SOX 6, DIAMONDBACKS 2: The D-backs lost their franchise-record 12th consecutive road game, as RF Justin Upton's two-run home run was all the offense they could muster off LHP Jon Lester and three relievers. Upton also singled and walked. RHP Rodrigo Lopez gave up two-run homers to 2B Dustin Pedroia and 1B Kevin Youkilis.

SNAKE BYTES

--RHP Cesar Valdez, who won his major league debut as a starter in Houston on May 3 but was put in the bullpen after his next start, was optioned to Class AAA Reno to make room on the roster for RHP Sam Demel. Valdez was 1-2 with a 7.65 ERA in nine appearances (two starts) for the Diamondbacks this season.

--RHP Brandon Webb was pleased with his bullpen session Wednesday in Boston, and he plans to throw off a mound again this weekend at Detroit. Webb is still working his way back from the shoulder debridement surgery performed last August.

--RF Justin Upton hit a long, two-run home run over the Green Monster at Fenway Park on Wednesday after lining a two-run double off the left field fence Tuesday. He has hit seventh in the lineup in his last three starts as manager A.J. Hinch has attempted to ease some of the pressure he was feeling. "He's got his hands back in a good position," Hinch said. "He's not going to stay in this dry spell very long." Upton's double broke an 0-for-10 streak with runners in scoring position.

--RHP Rodrigo Lopez, who gave up two two-run homers Wednesday, has allowed 15 homers this season, two fewer than teammate RHP Dan Haren, who leads the National League. Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia hit an inside fastball for a two-run homer to left field in the first inning. "It could be a flyball somewhere else. It's Fenway," Lopez said. He gave up a career-high 32 homers in his last full season in majors, with Baltimore in 2006.

--The D-backs have a big-league-high 40 wild pitches. RHP Edwin Jackson leads the NL with a career-high nine wild pitches. RHP Ian Kennedy is third with seven, and RHP Dan Haren is tied for fourth with five. Jackson's previous season high was seven, in 2007 and 2008 with Tampa Bay.

--The D-backs set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive road loss Wednesday, the second game of a six-game road trip to Boston and Detroit. They D-backs fell at Florida on May 18 and lost all nine games of a trip to Colorado, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers from May 25-June 2. They are 10-5 at home in the same time period.

--The D-backs lost an hour of preparation time when Boston moved the time of Thursday's game to 3:10 p.m. Eastern in deference to the Boston Celtics, who will play Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers that evening in Los Angeles. The Red Sox had considered moving Tuesday's game, when the Celtics and Lakers played Game 6 on the West Coast.


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