23 April 2012
The week of April 16-22 was a rough one for the Diamondbacks, as the team dropped five out of seven games to the Pirates and the Braves, including five losses in a row from Tuesday through Saturday. Even worse, the Diamondbacks lost hot-hitting CF Chris Young and #2 Starter Daniel Hudson to the 15-Day Disabled List, and were also without RF Justin Upton for several games due to a thumb injury. Not surprisingly, the team struggled to score runs all week, scoring just 21 runs over 7 games, while giving up 34. Here is a recap of Week 2 for the Diamondbacks, focusing on the team's injuries, offensive struggles, and some important minor league promotions.
Chris Young was injured while making an outstanding catch in Centerfield, crshing into the outfield wall on a blast by the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez. X-rays on Young's shoulder showed no breaks, and an MRI showed a deep bruise on the AC joint as well as a small ligament tear. Although Young did not want to go the DL, the club decided to be cautious, especially since the doctors said that the injury might worsen without proper rest. The Diamondbacks are hoping to get Young back in two weeks, but there is no timetable set yet. Despite missing the last five games, Young still leads the team in HR (5), and RBI (13), as well as in batting average (.410), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.897).
Also missing several games last week for the Diamondbacks was RF Justin Upton. Upton initially injured his thumb back on April 8th, but tried to play through the injury. He had to have fluid drained from the thumb last Tuesday, and finally returned to the lineup on Saturday night. Upton still hasn't shown much power yet this season, and is still looking for his first RBI of the year, but the team expects him to be at full strength very soon.
The Diamondbacks also put right-hander Daniel Hudson on the 15-Day Disabled List on Saturday, retroactive to April 19th. Hudson was diagnosed with a right shoulder impingment, and an MRI showed no structural damage. Hudson said that he actually hurt his shoulder back on April 13 against the Rockies, but decided to shut things down on the 21st after continuing to feel uncomfortable while playing catch. Hudson is hopeful that he can return at full strength after the 15 days are up. To replace Hudson, the team called up reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, but LHP Wade Miley will get the start on Monday against the Phillies. Based on Miley's performance, the Diamondbacks could decide to call up another starter from the Minors for the remainder of Hudson's DL stint.
Also heading to the Disabled List was infielder Geoff Blum, who injured his left oblique muscle. Blum was hurt while swinging the bat during his last round of batting practice on Tuesday, and was diagnosed with a torn oblique. He is expected to be out much longer than 15 days, with 4-8 weeks a more likely recovery time.
Reliever Takashi Saito was expected to re-join the Diamondbacks over the weekend, but suffered a setback with his calf injury last Friday. Saito had thrown a scoreless inning for Class A Visalia on Thursday, but felt his calf stiffen up on Friday during drills. Saito is still several days away from returning to the Diamondbacks.
Finally, SS Stephen Drew is continuing the rehab of his ankle injury. Drew has been taking ground balls and running the bases extensively, but still hasn't tried sliding yet. His rehab is going well, but he will need at least a few more weeks before he is ready to play in the Majors.
The Diamondbacks struggled to score runs last week without Young and Upton in the lineup. Losing two hitters of that caliber would hurt any team, but unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, almost every other hitter in the lineup is off to a slow start. As a team, the Diamondbacks are batting .224/.306/.375, and have scored 64 Runs in 16 games (4.0 R/G, 7th in NL).
One big concern is 3B Ryan Roberts, who is hitting just .173 this year. Last May 7th, Roberts was batting .301/.408/.554, but over the remainder of the season, he went just .238/.326/.401 over the final 116 Games. If Roberts can't get his bat going, with his primary backup Geoff Blum already out, that would open an opportunity for 36 year old veteran Cody Ransom.
Another problem is SS Willie Bloomquist, who has reached base only 12 times in 50 Plate Appearances (.240 OBP). Since Stephen Drew is several weeks away at best, more playing time could go to John McDonald, who at least has been outstanding on defense.
At 1B, Paul Goldschmidt is still trying to find his stroke. He homered on Opening Day against Tim Lincecum, but has had only two extra-base hits since then, both doubles. Backup Lyle Overbay has started off fairly well (.818 OPS) and has taken five starts from Goldschmidt already, but the team still seems committed to giving Goldschmidt the bulk of the playing time.
Jason Kubel hit his first HR of the season on Saturday, and has now hit safely in six straight games; the team really needs him to help carry the offense right now. Aaron Hill has hit 3 HR already, ranking second on the team in SLG (.473) and RBI. Gerardo Parra should be a regular starter while Young is out, and had a key grand slam in Sunday's win to snap the five game losing streak. Miguel Montero started out well, but finished the Braves' series with an 0-11 slide.
Minor League Roster Shuffling
With Chris Young going on the DL, CF A.J. Pollock was called up from AAA Reno, and received a few starts while Young and Upton were out. Unfortunately, Pollock started his Major League career going 0-12 with 1 BB, so he probably will be the 4th OF right now with Kubel, Parra, and Upton the starters.
Called up to fill a rotation spot in AAA was 24 year old RHP Charles Brewer. Brewer had pitched well in AA (career 2.97 ERA, 7.9K/9, 2.7BB/9, 0.5 HR/9), but was hit hard in his first appearance with Reno (10H, 5R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K and 3 HR in 5 IP). Also moving up to AAA was OF Adam Eaton, who had hit .302/.416/.413 in AA Mobile over parts of 2011 and 2012, and SS Daniel Kaczrowski.
Moving up from Class A Visalia to AA Mobile was 1B Yazy Arbelo, who had hit 4 HR in 11 Games for the Rawhide.