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Former Arizona Diamondbacks in Mix for New York Mets Manager

As soon as the regular season ended, the New York Mets began cleaning house by firing their manager Jerry Manuel and general manager Manny Minaya. Diamondbacks fans may be shocked to learn that the Mets are relying heavily on former Arizona employees during their search.

Before the Mets hired Sandy Alderson as their GM, it was down to him and former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes. In the end, New York went with Alderson though several within the front office came away impressed with the interviews Byrnes gave.

Perhaps Byrnes learned a little from his tenure with the Diamondbacks and did not come off quite as arrogant as he was charged with when he worked in Phoenix.

Now that the Mets have a GM, they are turning their attention to finding a new field manager. After the first round of interviews, they have narrowed their field of candidates down to four and three of them have ties to the Diamondbacks.

The Mets are considering Wally Backman, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin and Terry Collins. Only Collins has not held a coaching position with the Diamondbacks.  

Hale coached the Tucson Sidewinders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks and was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the year. During his tenure, the Sidewinders won the Triple-A World Series. After successfully coaching in the minor leagues, Hale was promoted to the Diamondbacks coaching ranks as a part of Bob Melvin’s staff.

One interesting piece of trivia about Hale is that he is a part of perhaps the most famous baseball blooper of all time. While playing for the Triple-A Portland Beavers, Hale hit a deep fly ball to right field where outfielder Rodney McCray attempted to catch it and ran through the outfield wall.

Melvin originally coached in the Diamondbacks system as the bench coach under Bob Brenly. He was on Brenly’s staff in 2001 when the Arizona Diamondbacks won the World Series.

After managing the Seattle Mariners, Melvin returned to Arizona as their manager before the 2005 season. He led the team that reached the National League Championship Series in 2007 before losing to the Colorado Rockies in the playoffs. Melvin was named the National League Manager of the Year that season.

Melvin was fired in the 2009 season by then Arizona GM Josh Byrnes. Interesting that those two nearly ended up together again in New York— that might have been worth the price of admission to see them try to work together again.

Wally Backman was an up-and-coming manager in the Diamondbacks minor league system. He led the Single-A Lancaster Jethawks to an 86-54 record in 2004, and won the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year.

After the Diamondbacks had a disastrous 2004 where they lost a franchise-worst 111 games, they fired their coaching staff. On November 1, 2004 Backman was named the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

One day later, the media uncovered several issues around Backmanincluding legal and financial problems, as well as DUI charges that the team was unaware of. Diamondbacks ownership reviewed the allegations and relieved Backman of his managerial duties before he ever coached a game at the major league level.

Since that time, Backman has managed in the minor leagues, including the Independent League South Georgia Peanuts, where he was the subject of a reality show called “Playing for Peanuts.”

So as you can see, the Mets have accumulated a series of candidates that have strong ties to the Diamondbacks, which could make for an interesting backstory when the two teams play in 2011.

In the end it just goes to show that losing a job in baseball doesn’t have to be the end of the world and the game is willing to forgive any and all transgressions to give you another chance.

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Is Justin Upton Up for Trade?

When Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers publicly stated he is willing to listen to trade offers for any player during the General Manager’s meetings, it sparked off a firestorm among Diamondbacks fans and local sports talk shows.

For the first time team officials have suggested they are willing to listen to offers regarding their young right-fielder Justin Upton. Last season before the trade deadline it was suggested the Diamondbacks identified two players as “untouchable”. Those two were pitcher Ian Kennedy and Upton.

So has there been a change of heart? Towers was careful to say that he was not actively shopping players, but rather he would be willing to listen to any and all offers for any player.

The local sports radio personalities couldn’t leave it at that. They blasted the airwaves asking callers to weigh in on what value the team could get by moving Upton. They questioned his abilities and what impact he could have on the game.

Upton detractors took the opportunity to blast the outfielder, recalling his high strike-out totals and somewhat lackadaisical play in the field at times. Talk show hosts piled on with comparisons with other young players and how Upton was failing to live up to his potential.

While Upton did take a small step backwards offensively in 2010, the bigger concern is his continual failure to stay healthy. Upton has yet to play a full season without a trip to the disabled list or a long period of inactivity trying to nurse himself back to full strength.

That is obviously a concern for team officials as well. They have asked Upton to remain in the Phoenix area this offseason and work with strength and conditioning coaches to try and build a regime that will hopefully limit his injuries over a 162-game schedule.

Since becoming the youngest player to make his Diamondbacks debut in 2007, Upton has been constantly compared to some of the greats in the game, such as Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez. Given his skills, those comparisons may be warranted, but that is a lot of pressure to put on a young man.

Upton will never be able to live up to his potential, as it was set too high to begin with when the Diamondbacks made him the number one overall pick in the 2005 draft. Hopefully, though, Tower’s comments will act as a wake-up call for Upton.

He needs to realize that you cannot build a career on potential. At some point he will need to have success. Not just nominal success, but a breakout season that shows everyone what type of player he can be.

Hopefully that will occur in a Diamondbacks uniform, and not like that of Carlos Gonzalez, whom the Diamondbacks traded and now have to face in Colorado.

In the meantime, don’t look for Upton to be dealt anytime soon. It would need to be a blockbuster trade that returns several major league ready players, and that is likely not going to happen.

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Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field Observations: Part II

During the recent Season Ticket Holder Seat Relocation event for the Arizona Diamondbacks, I jotted down a few notes not necessarily related to seat relocation but were interesting nonetheless. I completely forgot about these notes until my wife washed my jeans.

Now, I have what looks like a paper blog with partially legible ink strokes wrapped in dryer lint. I’ll attempt to decipher this mess, but please don’t hold me to any of this.

When I arrived at Chase Field for the event, the Season Ticket Services team held the introduction in the rotunda rather than on the main concourse as is normally the case. The reason for this was explained as a result of construction noise within Chase Field.

The noise is a result of air compressors. The Maricopa County Stadium District is having the roof to Chase Field cleaned before the 2011 season begins. Diamondbacks fans have been asking for several years when this would be completed.

When the stadium name changed from Bank One Ballpark to Chase Field, the Bank One logo was removed from the roof. The area that was exposed was white compared to the remainder of the roof’s dirty appearance.

The work is to continue through the end of the year. The first two panels already look much better. The next time you drive past the stadium or fly into or out of Phoenix, check out the progress.

I spoke with several members of the Season Ticket Services team asking about upcoming events this off-season. Two in particular caught my attention. Early next month the Diamondbacks will be holding a seat selection event that allows Season Ticket Holders an opportunity to select seats at the new Spring Training facility in Scottsdale.

The Diamondbacks will once again be offering a behind-the-scenes tour of Chase Field this off-season. If you have not had an opportunity to take this tour, I highly recommend it. It is fascinating and you gain access to areas in the ballpark that are typically off-limits to fans.

I asked if there would be a similar behind-the-scenes tour of the new Spring Training facility.  Unfortunately, it does not appear to be an option being considered at this time. This is due to timing, since the new facility is currently under construction.

That was disappointing to hear, as I was hoping there was a small window where we could be able to tour the facility before Spring Training starts next March. Hopefully, this is something the Diamondbacks will consider next season.

As I was leaving Chase Field, I happened to talk to Cory Parsons – Senior Manager Season Ticket Services. We talked about the Season Ticket Holder Advisory Panel (a great idea and the Diamondbacks did an outstanding job identifying members of this panel). Cory wanted to let me know that the panel had acted on some of the suggestions I had sent in.

Look for an upcoming announcement from the team and the advisory panel on special merchandise. I was pretty excited to hear the news and now have something to add to my Christmas or birthday wish list.

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November Chat with Arizona Diamondbacks’ GM Kevin Towers

On the first Thursday of every month, the Arizona Diamondbacks host an on-line chat with a member of the team’s front office. Typically the chat is with Diamondbacks CEO/President Derrick Hall, who answers questions from the fans for 30 minutes.

For the November on-line chat the host was the newly appointed General Manager Kevin Towers. This is the first opportunity the fans have had to interact with the General Manager.

Since many of the questions asked each month understandingly deal with the team’s roster, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to gain some insight into the direction the Diamondbacks roster will be taking this offseason.

The chat began with the fan’s already questioning the decisions the team is making. In particular, why first baseman Adam LaRoche would not be returning next season, a result of the Diamondbacks declining his option for 2011.

Towers’ answer was indicative of what we should expect this winter. While LaRoche had a fine season for Arizona, his salary and make-up does not fit with the direction this team will be going. The Diamondbacks have a finite budget and many holes that need to be filled.

The bullpen is in complete shambles and will need to be recreated from the ground up. Add to that the fact that there is very little veteran presence on the bench and it becomes clear that the money paid to LaRoche could be better utilized in other areas.

You would be hard pressed to argue against those facts, but it was a comment Towers made late in the chat that was even more telling. A fan asked how new hitting coach Don Baylor will approach cutting down the strikeouts. Towers response was, “First way to cut down on the strikeout total is to change the personnel in the lineup, with the focus more on contact and pitch recognition.”

While LaRoche drove in 100 runs last season, he also struck out 172 times, second only to Mark Reynolds. By not re-signing LaRoche, Towers has substantially reduced the team strikeout totals.

This statement does not bode well for third baseman Mark Reynolds and his team-leading 211 punch-outs. Clearly Reynolds has a bulls eye on his back to either change his approach at the plate or play somewhere other than Chase Field next season.

Towers also suggested the Diamondbacks will be looking at corner infielders and a left-fielder during the off-season and understands that some of these holes will be filled through trades in addition to free agency.

From a pitching perspective, Towers had high praise for Jarrod Parker and admitted that Parker could be a member of the Diamondbacks pitching staff as early as next season depending on how he does during Spring Training.

There are still concerns with his health coming off Tommy John surgery last year, but so far Parker is ahead of schedule. Towers’ expectation is that once Parker reaches the major league level he will become a front of the rotation type pitcher, taking over the mantle of staff ace formerly held by Brandon Webb.

Other questions by the fans surrounded the reasoning behind hiring the coaching staff they did. Most of the comments were positive by the fans, meaning the team is restoring some level of confidence, at least at this point; something that has not been the case the previous two years.

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Arizona Diamondbacks: Seat Relocation Day at Chase Field

I’ve had this date circled on my calendar for nearly six weeks. As the day continued to get closer, I found myself having more and more difficulty sleeping at night. I tossed and turned in bed, stared at the clock praying for time to go faster and finally bring morning.

“What could possibly be so important that you can’t sleep?” my wife asked.

I stared at her incredulously. That’s like asking why do I need to inhale and exhale in order to breathe. I stood there with a dazed look in my eyes trying to understand how she could even ask that question.

Clearly my wife had suffered some kind of brain aneurysm or something that caused her permanent brain damage. So I chose my words carefully and talked really slow, just in case she was still having medical issues.

“It’s seat relocation day at Chase Field,” I politely explained taking extra care to spell out the words Chase and Field in invisible finger motions.

She continued to stare blankly at me and I briefly thought about calling 9-1-1 to get an ambulance to come get her.

“But you love your current seat location”, she said.

Ok, I’m at a loss here. Whether I love my seats in Section 132 Row 9 Seats 9-10 is completely beside the point. Of course, I have no intention of upgrading.

How do you upgrade from near perfection (perfection is sitting above the Diamondbacks dugout, but until I get the kids through college that’s probably not going to be possible)?

She was failing to grasp what I thought was obvious.

Select-A-Seat Day was not just about choosing the place you will spend 83 days a year. It is also an excuse to hang out at Chase Field during the long winter months, duh!

Obviousl,y I was not communicating clearly. I tried to explain it once again, but Trina, my wife, began ignoring me (something that occurs quite regularly). Instead, I decided to focus on the task at hand.

I began looking for the postcard that had my Select-A-Seat appointment time. I shuffled through the papers on my desk, but could not find it. I began to get a little worried and my heart rate went up. After nearly 30 minutes of searching and more than one frantic call to Trina for help I finally found the card.

Printed on the back was instructions and my allotted time—October 28 at two pm. Wait, let me read that again—October 28 at two pm. Are you kidding me? My appointment was last week? I began hyperventilating and freaking out.

Trina rushed in thinking I was having some kind of heart attack but what I was experiencing was much more painful. How in the world did I ever get the dates mixed up?

I suddenly felt light headed and thought I would pass out.

Trina was alternately reminding me to breathe and telling me it was not that big a deal since I had not planned to relocate anyway.

Ok, that’s not helping and please stop making me breathe into a brown paper bag.

My hands were shaking so badly that I could not even hold the card. Trina took it from me and began reading. After a couple of minutes, she stated, “Dear, this is last year’s card for the 2010 Select-A-Seat event.”

Oh, well that’s different. I already went to that event. She went through another pile of papers and handed me the card for this year where my appointment was clearly November 3.

The instructions said to arrive 10 minutes before my assigned time slot. Well, if 10 minutes is good, 20 minutes is better. I paced the floor waiting for the time to leave to go downtown. Traffic was relatively light today, allowing me to arrive even earlier than planned.

I waited patiently on the concourse for the time when we were allowed to enter Chase Field. As the clock struck 10, Cory Parsons the Senior Manager for Season Ticket Services welcomed the group and gave us instructions.

We would have 25 minutes to walk around Chase Field and look at the available season ticket seats. At the conclusion of that time, we would be able to select the seats. If two fans wanted the same seats they would use our priority numbers to determine who would get the seats.

It’s always fun to watch this process. Fans will wander around looking at the various open seats. They pretend not to be interested all the while scoping out everyone else’s priority number to gauge whether they stand a chance at getting the seats they want.

My first observation was that the number of open seats seemed substantially less than last year. Considering the Diamondbacks have finished last the previous two seasons that was somewhat surprising.

It shouldn’t have been surprising if I would have thought about it. In 2011, the Diamondbacks host the MLB All-Star game and people are holding on to their seats to have priority to buy All-Star game packages.

I talked to several of the Season Ticket Services team who stated the renewal rates to this point are around 80 percent.

Given the economy and the on-field product that is impressive.

A lot of the credit goes to Derrick Hall and the Season Ticket Holder team for maintaining a high level of loyalty and providing an extremely positive game day experience.

I wandered around the stadium taking pictures and soaking up the ambiance of Chase Field one last time before winter begins. I was surprised to see that the two seats to my right were not renewed.

I wondered if I had somehow offended the people with those tickets or if they were just tired of the crazy fan who went to every game and kept score.

In the back of my mind I’m hoping those don’t sell and become day of game tickets just so I can buy extra tickets for specific games.

At the end of the 25 minutes I decided not to change seat locations. While I could have moved down to Row 6, I felt comfortable in where I was. From the looks of the people walking the concourse, several upgraded their tickets and were very excited for the 2011 season.

All in all, it was a good day.

I didn’t move seat,s but at least I was able to go down to the ballpark and hang out in the stands imagining what it will be like in April when the season starts fresh.

Hopefully, I’ll be cheering from those seats well into October, watching the Diamondbacks in the playoffs.

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World Series 2010: San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers in November Baseball

Game 4 of the 2001 World Series was historic in many ways. The Arizona Diamondbacks won the first two games at then-Bank One Ballpark. The next three games moved to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

In Game 3 the Yankees sent Roger Clemens to the mound to face Brian Anderson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a classic pitcher’s duel. Clemens threw seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits. Anderson pitched well himself, allowing just two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings of work.

The win set up a Game 4 match-up of Curt Schilling for Arizona and Orlando Hernandez for New York. Under a full moon, the two teams would match up on October 31, Halloween. Schilling threw seven stellar innings, allowing one run on three hits.

The Yankees would score first on a home run by Shane Spencer in the third inning. The Diamondbacks would come back with a home run by first baseman Mark Grace to tie the game in the top of the fourth.

Arizona would take the lead in the eighth on a double by Erubiel Durazo, scoring Luis Gonzalez. Durazo would score on a fielder’s choice by Matt Williams to give the Diamondbacks a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth inning Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly brought in his closer Byung-Hyun Kim to face the bottom of the Yankees order. He struck out Spencer, Scott Brosius and Alfonzo Soriano in a 1-2-3 inning. The Diamondbacks likewise went down in order, setting up a bottom of the ninth with the visitors up two runs.

The inning started with Derek Jeter grounding out, followed by a single by Paul O’Neill and a strikeout by Bernie Williams. With two outs, Tino Martinez came to the plate and hit a home run to right-center field to tie the game.

I remember that moment like it was yesterday; that dulling numbness that comes when victory is snatched away at the very last moment. I was in shock, but that was not the worst part. That would come an inning later.

With the full moon high above the stadium, Jeter strode to the plate. Brosius and Soriano had both flied out. Kim threw eight pitches to Jeter, who fouled off balls to bring the count full. On the ninth pitch, as the clock struck midnight, Jeter hit a home run to seal the victory for the Yankees, tying the series 2-2.

The Yankees hometown announcers proclaimed Jeter “Mr. November,” a title he was ill-fitted to maintain. What was most historic was not the home run as much as it was the time. For the first season in history, baseball had stretched into November.

The season had gone this long as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001. It seemed almost surreal to think that baseball was still going on in November. The 2001 World Series would not end that night; it would conclude three days later in Phoenix Arizona.

Perhaps the most famous bloop single in MLB history, over the outstretched arms of the so-called “Mr. November,” would score Jay Bell and make Luis Gonzalez a Diamondbacks immortal.

Here we are, nine years later, and once again the World Series is being played in November. This time, though, it was not a result of a delay, but actually scheduled to continue this late. There were no late-inning heroics.

The offense is not the talk of this game in November. Instead it is two dominating pitchers. One hopes to lead his team back from the brink of elimination, while the other hopes to carry his team to victory, a victory not tasted in over half a century.

Regardless of the storylines, baseball fans everywhere can rejoice that every game played from this point on brings us one day closer to February, when pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training and usher in another season.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Name Ray Montgomery Head of Scouting

The Arizona Diamondbacks continued to rebuild their baseball operations staff under new General Manager Kevin Towers. Towers recently relieved scouting director Tom Allison of his duties as Director of Scouting.

After Interim General Manager Jerry Dipoto was named Senior Vice President of Player Development and Scouting he has been looking for a replacement for Allison. Today the Diamondbacks announced the hiring of Ray Montgomery as the Director of Amateur Scouting.

Montgomery has spent the past eight years in the scouting department of the Milwaukee Brewers, the past two as assistant scouting director. During his tenure Montgomery scouted and signed Rickie Weeks and other players highly touted in the Brewers farm system.

Montgomery interviewed last off season for the San Diego Padres Director of Scouting but turned down that job when the Padres asked him to relocate to San Diego. It is assumed the Diamondbacks will allow Montgomery to work from Connecticut, where his family recently moved.

Montgomery will now begin evaluating the Diamondbacks scouting department to determine what other changes if necessary will be made.

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Former Diamondbacks Bo Porter, Josh Byrnes Interview for Jobs

With all of the changes to the Arizona Diamondbacks over the past two years, several good resources that have been made available to pursue other opportunities. Now it seems other teams are in a position to make changes themselves and are reaching out to these former Diamondbacks employees. I thought it might be interesting to see who is interviewing where.

The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Thursday that they are interviewing former Diamondbacks bench coach Bo Porter for their vacant manager position. Porter began the 2010 season as the Diamondbacks’ third base coach under manager A.J. Hinch.

When Hinch was fired on July 1, Porter moved from third base to the dugout, becoming interim manager Kirk Gibson’s bench coach. After the season, the Diamondbacks dismissed Porter along with hitting coach Jack Howell.

Prior to the 2010 season, Porter worked on the Florida Marlins’ coaching staff for five seasons. Porter becomes the first minority candidate to be interviewed for the Pirates’ job.

Speaking of Hinch, the former Diamondbacks skipper was hired by the San Diego Padres before the season ended. He will be working in the Padres front office in the capacity of professional scouting, a natural fit considering his background with the Diamondbacks prior to becoming manager during the 2009 season.

Former general manager Josh Byrnes has been identified as a strong candidate to become the New York Mets’ new GM. Byrnes was dismissed on July 1 of this year along with Hinch. Byrnes had been with the Diamondbacks for five years.

Others rumored to be on the Mets’ interview list include Rick Hahn, Allard Baird, and Sandy Alderson. Hahn is currently an assistant GM for the Chicago White Sox, while Baird has a similar job with the Boston Red Sox. Alderson is currently working for Major League Baseball in the Dominican Republic .

Bob Brenly, who managed the Diamondbacks during their championship run in 2001, is rumored to be interested in the vacant Milwaukee Brewers’ manager’s job. Bob Melvin, who was Brenly’s bench coach and later managed the Diamondbacks in 2007, is rumored to be a candidate for the Chicago Cubs manager’s position.

As the changes continue within the Diamondbacks’ front office and coaching staff, each press release describes the outgoing individual as “well respected in the baseball community”. Given how many of these people are garnering interest, that is not merely an empty compliment.

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Playoffs From the Outside Looking In

In the early hours of the morning as the sun crept over the horizon, breaking the silence of the night, I lay in bed watching the rays of sun creep into the room. The slivers of light gently poked through the curtains and slowly made their way across the room.

I had been awake for most of the night unable to sleep. Strangely, I wasn’t tired even despite the lack of sleep. As I lay there watching the sunrise, I couldn’t help but think about the events that would unfold this day, October 6th.

It would be a day I had been looking forward to since mid-February. Now that it has arrived, I couldn’t help but sigh as I thought about why this date suddenly didn’t have the meaning it once had.

Today marks the opening of the Major League Baseball post season. For eight cities and their fans, it marks a new beginning. All of the hard work and success that was garnered in the 162-game regular season has been put aside.

Win-loss records have been zeroed out and each team starts anew. In the time since the final regular-season game on Sunday, fans have been busy preparing for play-off baseball. Jerseys and hats have been laid out, along with rally towels, luck foam fingers, and any other item that a fan might think will bring luck to a team.

But for fans of the 22 teams that did not make the post season, today is a reminder of unfulfilled dreams. Not too long ago, pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training, and we had grandiose plans of players living up to their potential, carrying their teams to the top of the standings.

With each instance of the bullpen failing to maintain the lead, and every swinging strikeout, the hopes of being part of the MLB post season drifted further away. By the first of June, the Diamondbacks had already been written off.

The trade deadline of July did not see the team bring in that one impact player that would push them into contention. Instead, we sat and watched as the Arizona Diamondbacks waved the white flag and dismantled the roster, one player at a time.

We were told this was the best way to return to contention. We traded fan favorites for young prospects, whom no one knew and whom may not see a Diamondbacks uniform for another three or four years.

For the second season in a row we watched as the team fired managers and coaches, replacing them with others who said all the right things to give us hope that we had seen the worst of things, and that from now on, they would get better.

The players told us what we wanted to hear—that it wasn’t the coaches fault, and that they looked forward to the new manager. They hoped this would be the change that would turn losing into winning.

At first, the fans were hopeful. But the team soon returned to the uneven play that got them into a losing position in the first place. The losing continued. When September rolled around, the rosters expanded.

Rather than bringing in players who could give the veterans a breather to sustain a final drive to a spot in the playoffs, the team brought in youngsters to evaluate their talent and decide how they would fit in next season.

Each game became a tryout as players tried to show coaches and management that they deserved to be on the roster next season. Other players took this opportunity to try and increase their statistics and ultimately their value on the free agent market.

Now, the season is over. Players have packed up their belongings and are making their way back to their winter homes to be reunited with the family and friends they had not seen since January.

Fans, like myself, are left lying in bed staring at the ceiling wondering what the fans in Tampa Bay, New York, Minneapolis, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and San Francisco are doing to prepare to watch their teams battle for a berth in the World Series.

I exhaled a deep breath and pulled the covers back over my head hoping to fall asleep and dream of a time when the Diamondbacks would be hosting a playoff game at Chase Field.

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News on the Diamondbacks Pitching Front

Although there are only four games remaining in the 2010 regular season, things are active with regards to the Arizona Diamondbacks pitching staff. This news covers not only those on the major league staff but also pitchers in Tucson attending Instructional League.

Let’s begin with the major league roster. Starter Ian Kennedy made his final start of the season last night against the San Francisco Giants. Kennedy pitched well going five innings allowing just five hits.

Unfortunately, one of those five hits was a home run to Pat Burrell in the fourth inning with two men on. That one mistake cost him the ballgame as Giants starter Tim Lincecum out-dueled him allowing just one run, a lead-off home run by Stephen Drew.

In Kennedy’s five innings of work he threw 92 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. Large pitch counts have been a trademark of Kennedy for most of the season. The number of strikes he throws leads to lots of foul balls and deep pitch counts. This will be something the team addresses with him after the season.

It was somewhat surprising to even see Kennedy pitching in the game. Last season he threw just 23 innings for the New York Yankees being injured for most of the year.

Under the Josh Byrnes-regime Kennedy was held to a strict inning and pitch count. He was scheduled to throw no more than 175 innings this season. That limit seems to have been lifted under Jerry Dipoto and now Kevin Towers. Last night’s game brought Kennedy’s season total to 194 innings just one inning less than Rodrigo Lopez who is leading the team with 195 innings and one start remaining.

Manager Kirk Gibson and GM Towers seem more inclined to stretch out the pitchers to see how they will fare when going beyond their perceived limits. That may prove valuable during a playoff hunt where pitchers will go beyond their regular season total.

I recognize the value of this but cannot help but think about Brandon Webb who was one of the league leaders in innings pitched for several years. Could his shoulder problems have been avoided by managing his innings pitched along the way?

Speaking of Webb, yesterday marked his return to the mound in an instructional league game in Tucson. Webb worked a complete inning throwing approximately 20 pitches.

In that inning he allowed one hit, a triple, but limited the damage not allowing that run to score. The game was attended by scouts from several teams interested in Webb’s health before he becomes a free agent at the end of this season.

Webb sounded encouraged by his results while admitting he was nervous and his velocity was down, estimates had him throwing in the low 80s. Webb is hoping to build on this success when he pitches again on Saturday in another instructional game.

Webb’s final scheduled instructional league game will be next Wednesday in Phoenix likely against the San Francisco Giants’ instructional league team. After that time Webb and team officials will sit down and assess his progress and next steps.

One of the subjects in that discussion will be how Webb may fit into the team’s plans for 2011. Any contract regarding Webb will likely need to be incentive laden, something the Diamondbacks have been reluctant to do in the past.

So while the weather is starting to cool down it remains hot around the Diamondbacks pitching staff.

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