Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hairston and Edgar Gonzalez lock up spots on roster

I've been sick all day, and in a ton of pain, so I haven't had a chance to write up the Julio-Petit trade. Anyway, I'll make this quick. From azcentral.com

Gonzalez named 4th starter
Hairston also makes Opening Day roster
Andrew Bagnato
Associated Press
Mar. 27, 2007 02:30 PM

TUCSON - Right-hander Edgar Gonzalez came to spring training confident he could win a spot on the Arizona Diamondbacks' pitching staff.

He did more than that. Manager Bob Melvin on Tuesday named Gonzalez his fourth starter. The 24-year-old is scheduled to make his first start at Washington April 5.

"I'm so happy," Gonzalez said. "I was focused on that. I've been working hard every day, doing my job."

Gonzalez has a 3.32 ERA in five spring starts, and he has struck out 14 in 19 innings while walking only two.

"He earned it," Melvin said. "He deserves it. He's probably considerably ahead of everybody else right now."

Gonzalez will follow reigning NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez and Doug Davis in the Diamondbacks' rotation. There's still a spirited battle for the No. 5 spot, although it figures to be a short-lived assignment with Randy Johnson expected to join the rotation within a few weeks.

Melvin said he was impressed with the way Gonzalez' confidence has improved, especially after he struggled early in his career.

In 2004, Gonzalez, then only 21, went 0-9 with a 111-loss Diamondbacks club. He spent most of the next season at Triple-A Tucson. Gonzalez pitched one third of an inning in the majors that season, allowing two hits, two walks and four runs. His ERA for the season: 108.00.

"Rebounding off 04 and some of the troubles he's had in the big leagues before, to have the edge and the confidence and everything that he's showing out there right now, it's a natural," Melvin said.

Gonzalez said he has matured and become comfortable throwing breaking pitches in any count.

Gonzalez said he has "a lot more confidence in everything - my mind, my body, my delivery, my pitches."

Gonzalez wasn't the only Diamondback who came out of Melvin's office with a big smile on Tuesday. Outfielder Scott Hairston learned he had earned a spot on the opening day roster - and may start April 2 at Colorado if Carlos Quentin's shoulder injury doesn't heal.

Hairston was hitting .400 in 21 spring training games with three home runs and 12 RBI. Twelve of his 20 hits were for extra bases.

Hairston seemed a lock to make the club, but he welcomed Melvin's confirmation. Melvin said Hairston "has been big-league ready for a while" but "has been caught in the numbers game for years."

Hairston has bounced between Tucson and Phoenix each of the last three seasons, hitting .246 with 13 homers and 31 RBI in 125 big league games.

He's a veteran of the 90-mile drive between the cities. This time, he'll make it when the Diamondbacks break camp on Wednesday.

"I've always dreamed about experiencing opening day in the big leagues," said the 26-year-old Hairston, who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert. "I've been in the big leagues but never for opening day. I'm really looking forward to it."

Also worth noting is that Hairston banged out three homers in three consecutive innings, to left, center, and right off Rockies' pitcher Josh Fogg. The 16mph winds could have played a factor, as San Diego scored 24 runs against Texas in their action today. Anyway, i'm going back to getting some rest. Hopefully, i can get a write up of the Petit trade, Edgar and Hairston making the roster, and the battle for the final spots in the rotation and pen.

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