It's been a slow and tedious offseason for Diamondbacks third baseman Chad Tracy, who continues to rehab from micro-fracture surgery on his right knee.
Just when things were starting to look up, when he was walking better than ever and the knee allowed him to go hunting and fishing near his home in North Carolina, another obstacle popped up in the form of a blood clot in his right calf.
The latest setback was expected to push back his rehab efforts by at least another week to 10 days. Tracy, whose injury opened the door at third base for rookie Mark Reynolds, isn't expected to start hitting until sometime in late December and he probably won't begin running until the end of January.
That doesn't bode well for his availability when spring training begins in February, but Tracy's goal is still to be ready for Opening Day.
"I've got to make sure I don't go out and re-injure it because I'm not in good enough shape," Tracy said. "You can't rush the strength, and you can't rush the endurance. It might be the end of spring training before I get the strength and endurance back."
Before the calf problem occurred, Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes termed Tracy's rehab as being "a bit ahead of schedule," adding of the player's availability by Opening Day, "It's unfair for a guy recovering to put a timeline on it, but it's certainly a possibility."
Assuming free agent Tony Clark doesn't return, the Diamondbacks would start the season with three players at the corner infield positions -- Tracy, Reynolds and Conor Jackson. If Tracy is slow to recover, the Diamondbacks will look to add depth behind Jackson at first and/or Reynolds at third. Free agent Mark Sweeney has been targeted as a possible backup.
Tracy, a career .288 hitter who have averaged nearly 20 home runs a year in his four seasons with the Diamondbacks, likely will see more time at first base than at third because of his knee.
--RHP Brandon Webb had been having contract talks with the Diamondbacks about a possible extension, but discussions ceased quickly and all negotiations have been put on hold in the team's effort to lock up its ace long-term.
"I would say the issue is tabled," Webb's agent, Jonathan Maurer said. "There was some brief conversation about Brandon, but there's no further conversation on a contract planned at this time."
Webb, the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner who finished runner-up this year, is signed through 2009 with a club option for 2010. But the Diamondbacks were interested in signing him through 2013, and Webb turned down their initial offer.
--The Diamondbacks posted 12 shutouts during the regular season, the
second most in the National League behind San Francisco (20).
Arizona's 12 shutouts were one shy of the franchise record set in 2001. RHP
Brandon Webb was the only pitcher in the majors with three shutouts in
--RHP Jose Valverde was quoted in a Dominican Republic newspaper that he is seeking a four-year contract extension worth between $50 million and $60 million, but his agent said the closer's comments were misconstrued. Valverde should have to wait until he becomes a free agent following the 2009 season to get that kind of a deal.
"By all indications, if he keeps doing what he's doing, if he has two more years like this, he's not too far off," conceded Agent Bill Rego.
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda, 32, was extended a contract offer by the Diamondbacks, but the team was still waiting to hear from the Japanese free agent, who is expected to command a salary of at least $10 million per year.
"It's a slow process," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said. "He's still sifting through it and deciding the priority of things -- what club he might want to visit and what clubs he might want to cross off the list."
--RHPs Matt Clement and Bartolo Colon were also targeted as potential free-agent additions, although Diamondbacks management planned to proceed cautiously in the free agent market. It seeks to add depth to the starting rotation because of the departure of free agent Livan Hernandez and the health concerns of veteran Randy Johnson.
--LHP Randy Johnson's recovery from his second back surgery in two years is going well, according to general manager Josh Byrnes, who said, "Right now, things are progressing well. I think Randy feels like the added time between surgery and the opening of spring training will be beneficial. We'll know more once he gets into the routine of throwing and recovering and throwing again."
--The Diamondbacks will debut a massive, 144-feet-wide, 55-feet-tall
video board at Chase Field next season, which will replace the
JumboTron and matrix boards in center field. The board will cost about $5
million, and with total installation and refurbishment, the project is
expected to cost $13 million overall when completed.
"I think it's just going to be one more enhancement for the fan experience," Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said. "All eyes are either on the players on the field or on the scoreboard. The scoreboard is the focal spot between innings. It's going to be tremendous."
BY THE NUMBERS: $27 million -- Amount the Diamondbacks have offered Japanese RHP Hiroki Kuroda on a three-year deal, although many industry sources were expecting him to sign with Seattle.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm convinced this guy will do a very good job for us. What I've gathered through the conversations I've had, he does have a passion. He sees things. To evaluate a player you have to break him down, and Carlos is already way ahead of the game in breaking him down to the root of what he does." -- Jerry Dipoto, the Diamondbacks' director of player personnel, on the hiring of Carlos Gomez, 29, as one of the club's new major league scouts despite Gomez's limited experience.
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