Friday, March 30, 2007

Random articles to tide you over

Two articles fro The first talk about Johnson's outing las night, looking strong the second, Quentin possibly starting on the dl, the final rotation spot, The final bullpen spot, and the final two spots on the bench.

It looks like Quentin will start on the dl, with Hairston in left, Chis young in Center, and Eric Byrnes sliding over to right. This begs the question of who'll be the fourth outfielder, with Davanon and Quentin on the DL. Once Quentin comes back, if Hairston is tearing off the cover of the ball, I'd expect Byrnes to be the fourth outfielder until Davanon comes back, and Salazar would be optioned back to AAA. With acquisitions of Romero and Salazar, I wouldn't be surprised if Byrnes/Davanon is traded. Byrnes could be a popular trade canidate for teams looking for a pickup at the trade deadline. According to the article, Salazar, Hammock, and Barden are the final candidates for the last two roster spots. I'd guess Salazar and Hammock. Who gets the fifth spot is still in question, but I'm betting on Dustin Nippert. JD Durbin will probably claim a spot in the bullpen. Also worth noting is this Si/baseball prospectus article, which has First Basemen Conor Jackson, and Shortstop Stephen Drew tabbed as two of the most likely break out candidates for 2007.
Big Unit continues to make strides
03/30/2007 2:05 AM ET
PHOENIX -- Randy Johnson once again looked sharp on Thursday, as he tossed three scoreless innings and struck out five while allowing two hits in the D-backs' 5-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. Johnson is recovering from back surgery.

"Great slider tonight, hit 93 [mph] again," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "The command for me right now is unbelievable for a guy that's coming off back surgery and has limited innings."

Johnson is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League camp game on April 3 and for Class A Visalia on April 8. After that, Johnson felt he would need just one more start before being activated.

"There's a world of difference between how I'm pitching in spring training than the way I was pitching the last two or three months of last year," said Johnson, who won 17 games with the Yankees last season despite back problems.

Assuming he stays on that schedule, he would be on track to pitch April 18 or 19, which would be against the Padres in San Diego.

On Thursday night, Johnson breezed through a lineup that had three regulars. In the first inning, he retired Jose Cruz Jr. on a fly ball and struck out Geoff Blum and Adrian Gonzalez.

In the second, Johnson gave up a single to Kevin Kouzmanoff, who was caught stealing as Johnson struck out Russell Branyan. Johnson also struck out Terrmel Sledge.

In the third, Pete Laforest led off with an infield single and was erased on Sean Kazmar's double-play grounder. Johnson ended his stint by striking out starting pitcher Mike Thompson.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Notes: Quentin suffers a setback
03/30/2007 2:30 AM ET
PHOENIX -- After suffering a slight setback in a Minor League game Thursday, it seems all but certain that outfielder Carlos Quentin will start the season on the disabled list.

"It's going to be difficult to start with him," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "Probably 10 percent chance."

Quentin, who was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with a slight tear in the labrum in his left shoulder, felt a little discomfort during his third trip to the plate in a Minor League game. He was removed from the game after the at-bat and was examined by team physician Michael Lee.

According to Melvin, Quentin's strength tested out well in the shoulder, but the club will err on the side of caution and have him focus on strengthening the muscles around the labrum rather than having him take lots of swings to be ready for Opening Day.

"Obviously, it's a little setback that will push me back a little bit, but we're all confident that I will come back strong," said Quentin, who was set to be the club's Opening Day starter in right field. "I talked to the doctor and he said it might have something to do with fatigue."

If Quentin starts the year on the DL, Eric Byrnes will likely shift from left field to right with Scott Hairston starting in left.

Claimed: The D-backs claimed the second player in as many days off waivers Thursday as they nabbed pitcher J.D. Durbin from the Twins.

Outfielder Jeff Salazar was claimed on waivers from the Rockies on Wednesday.

Durbin, who has posted good Minor League numbers in the Twins organization, is out of options and therefore will make the club as the sixth right-hander. With Doug Slaten looking to be set as the team's left-handed specialist, the pickup of Durbin seems to set the pen heading into the season.

"We feel like he has a chance to fit for us so we went ahead and claimed him, and now we need to sort through our numbers and set our Opening Day roster," GM Josh Byrnes said.

To make room on their 40-man roster for Durbin, the D-backs designated outfielder Dave Krynzel for assignment. The team has 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers.

Anybody's guess: The Opening Day roster, which just a couple of weeks ago looked pretty set, has become very uncertain two days before rosters must be submitted to the Commissioner's office.

he No. 5 spot in the rotation is still up for grabs. Enrique Gonzalez and Dana Eveland, two candidates, were optioned to Triple-A prior to Thursday's game. That leaves Dustin Nippert and Micah Owings as the remaining contenders.

Owings followed Randy Johnson to the mound Thursday, and allowed four runs on eight hits over four innings.

"Right now, it's still Nippert and Owings," Melvin said. "This wasn't Owings' best outing, but it's really the first time he's been nicked up at all so you've got to give him a little bit of a break. Whether one of them is starting, one of them is in relief ... we have options with both of them that we're both looking at."

The final two position player spots -- assuming Quentin starts the year on the DL -- will come from among Salazar, Robby Hammock and Brian Barden. Salazar is in the running in large part because he is a natural outfielder, which is important because the other two are not, and carrying both of them would leave the team with no true outfield backup.

Scratch: Shortstop Stephen Drew was scratched from the lineup after tweaking his right quad muscle earlier in the week.

"He did it rounding second the other day, hit second on his way to third, just felt it a little bit," Melvin said. "He's played since; he felt it just a tiny bit today. He's doing all the work just fine. I'm just overly cautious today."

Closer Jose Valverde slammed a finger on his right hand in a car door, and though the injury doesn't appear to be serious, he did not pitch as scheduled in the D-backs' afternoon game against the Cubs.

Up next: The D-backs take on the Padres again Friday afternoon at the Peoria Sports Complex at 1:05 p.m. MST. Edgar Gonzalez, who was named the No. 4 starter a couple of days ago, will make his final spring start. Brandon Lyon, Juan Cruz and Brandon Medders are also scheduled to pitch for the D-backs.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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