May 21, 2010

Parker to Throw Bullpen Session Monday

Category: The D-blog — Greg Salvatore @ 5:21 pm


Nine months after D-backs prospect Jarrod Parker was shut down with an elbow injury and seven months after surgery, the right-hander is scheduled throw a bullpen session Monday.


"I'm going to be on the mound Monday for my first bullpen session," Parker said. "(Friday) I'll finish up my long toss and be ready to go Monday on the mound."


Parker was at Chase Field Thursday to watch the D-backs take on the Giants and pitcher Tim Lincecum.


Parker had Tommy John surgery performed on Oct. 28 by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Last year, he went a combined 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 97 1/3 innings over 20 starts at Single-A Advanced Visalia and Double-A Mobile. In the 16 starts at Double-A, he posted a 3.68 ERA.


He went on the disabled list from June 14-24 with a right wrist contusion, and then on Aug. 17 for the remainder of the season with inflammation of his right elbow. Parker said his recovery has been going well.


"I have no complaints," he said. "Our medical staff has done everything right."


These days, Parker is living in Tucson to work out with the medical staff and trainers at the D-backs' minor league complex.


"I got the rehab protocol laid out," he said. "Right now it's kind of day-to-day with how I feel on the mound, but I'm going to bust my butt to be back as quickly as I can. That's just how I am. But they're going to want to be slow, with the surgery and the types of things that can happen."


At this point -- especially before Parker pitches in a bullpen session -- it's difficult to put any sort of specific timetable out for his return. However, a full return to health prior to Spring Training is certainly likely, barring any significant setbacks. A return for the Arizona Fall League in October is is something he'd like to try for, at least, but obviously less likely.


"(October) is a realistic goal for this year, but 110 percent in Spring Training is the for-real goal," Parker said. "But I would love to pitch in the Fall League."


This is the first real injury Parker has ever had in baseball, so his perspective has been strange. Never before has he had to watch baseball on TV without the opportunity to go play.


"That's the worst thing, watching games on TV every night," Parker said. "I go to rehab in the morning and get done at 11 or noon and then I'm watching games every night. I want to be out there. I want to pitch, I want to play. I'm just itching.


"(Rehabilitation) taught me some patience and being more mature. It's tough but I'm in the best shape of my life, putting on some real solid weight and getting in good shape. It kind of makes you look at the game a different way."


May 12, 2010

Celebrating the Three Nights of Walk-off Home Runs

Category: The D-blog — Greg Salvatore @ 5:52 pm

Ten years ago this week, three D-backs sluggers did something that had never been done before in franchise history, and has never been done since.


On May 10-12, 1999, the D-backs defeated the Montreal Expos on three consecutive nights with walk-off home runs. In the interest of spreading the wealth around, the home runs were hit by three different batters -- Jay Bell, Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams -- and, incidentally, were hit off three different Montreal pitchers.


FOX Sports Arizona was at Chase Field on Wednesday to visit the landing spot of each of the home runs with each guy who hit it, and get their thoughts on that crazy week. I was able to tag along to get some behind-the-scenes footage.


Here's a big thank you to Jay Bell, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, Jody Jackson, Mark Reda and Rusty Francisco for having me along.


Make sure to tune into tonight's D-backs vs. Dodgers game on FOX Sports Arizona to see their interviews with the guys, it will definitely be a lot of fun.


Untitled from D-backs Insider on Vimeo.

Kids Work Their Way to Chase Field with Inner City Jam

Category: The D-blog — Greg Salvatore @ 5:31 pm

On Tuesday evening, D-backs fans may have heard a rumble coming down Fourth Street toward Chase Field.


Walking toward the D-backs vs. Dodgers game were several hundred elementary school students from schools throughout the Valley, brought together for the 12th annual Inner City Jam.


Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox has spearheaded the event since the D-backs' first season back in 1998. It's an opportunity to have children who might not normally make it out to a ballgame spend a night rooting on their D-backs.


Kids earn the chance to participate in the Inner City Jam through community service work, including helping out in their schools, neighborhoods and churches.


D-backs broadcasters Miguel Quintana, Oscar Soria and Richard Saenz attend the event annually, and were on hand to help emcee the event on Tuesday. Quintana was especially impressed with the handful of kids who won prize packs -- a D-backs bag, a shirt or jersey, a cap and tickets to a D-backs game. One person from each participating school was chosen based on their community involvement that went above and beyond that of their peers.


"I like seeing kids from different schools," Quintana said. "There are a lot of Hispanic kids who are involved with it, and most of the kids who won the awards went over and above what they were supposed to do.


"They were doing community service, helping neighbors with their yards, helping senior citizens. I think it's interesting. It shows them that there is a reward for doing something."


Mostly, Quintana said, the great part of the event is seeing all of the kids in matching D-backs shirts, headed to the ballpark where they can grab a bag of popcorn, scream as loud as they want for the D-backs, and just have fun for a few hours.


The school that made the loudest noise at the event got to lead the group parade to Chase Field.


"I think it's exciting," Quintana said. "The main requirement for those kids to be there was to be loud. So I think it's really great that they get out of the school, come to the park and they can be kids and be loud. I like that idea. And I like the fact that they have to do community service so they can be a part of this group."

May 7, 2010

Gillespie Goes Deep

Category: The D-blog — Greg Salvatore @ 8:32 pm


Congratulations to outfielder Cole Gillespie on hitting his first Major League home run tonight.

He took a 1-0 fastball on the outside part of the plate and drove it to right field to tie the game 1-1 here at Chase.

Obviously, Gillespie may not be long for the big leagues, because Conor Jackson is progressing well in his injury rehab (2-for-4 last night with a homer, three runs and two RBI), but Gillespie has certainly impressed some people around Phoenix. His ability to back up all three outfield positions and hit for some power (a .607 slugging percentage in 28 big league at bats) will definitely get him some more at bats in the big leagues this year.


Some notes 

-- D-backs shortstops (read: Stephen Drew, who has 116 of the 121 PAs) are third in all of Major League Baseball in OPS, trailing only Florida (Hanley Ramirez, who is likely to stay on top) and Toronto.

-- The rest of the positions, rank in OPS out of the 30 MLB teams: Catcher - 5th, First Base - 6th, Second Base - 3rd, Third Base - 6th, Left Field - 23rd, Center Field - 8th, Right Field - 25th, Pitcher - 3rd.

-- Reflecting on those: Jackson will certainly be welcomed back to play left, where he should he should produce something like his usual .360/.440 line, and I don't believe anyone is too worried about Justin Upton getting going in right. But talk about players pulling their weight; to have five positions (six if you count pitchers) producing in the top 10 in the league at their position offensively is quite a team contribution.


Imprudent Boycotts Aim to Hurt Arizonans

Category: The D-blog — Greg Salvatore @ 4:08 pm

By Greg Salvatore


The D-backs finished an 11-game road trip last night, with a series win in Houston, polishing off the longest road trip the team will take this season.


Along the way -- in Denver, Chicago and Houston -- the organization encountered one thing in common, small groups of protesters outside the stadiums. In Denver, it was a handful of people, in Chicago it was 40 or so, then a couple dozen in Houston. In each instance, protesters were voicing opposition to Senate Bill 1070, the law recently passed by the Arizona State Legislature pertaining to illegal immigration and the enforcement of immigration laws.


In Houston, a second pro-1070 protest took place across the street from the anti-1070 group. Squarely in the middle of those two protests, and squarely in the crosshairs of all of them, were the Arizona Diamondbacks, despite the fact that the team never took any formal or informal stance one way or another in regard to SB 1070. It has been the policy of the D-backs' leadership team to avoid political stances, because the players and employees of the D-backs have their own individual beliefs, and shouldn't ever feel coerced into voting a certain way.


The protesters, as passionate as they were in their stance, were unfortunately erroneous in the belief that the D-backs played a role in the passing of SB 1070.


Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick has been a subject of some protests because of political donations he has made. However, while Kendrick has supported specific candidates in races for political office in the past, he has not contributed financial donations to any state legislator, or anyone directly involved with the passing of SB 1070.


Furthermore, Kendrick issued a statement to make it clear that it is his personal belief that while illegal immigration and its enforcement is an important issue in society today, it is the role of the federal government to handle such matters.


This was Kendrick's official statement on the matter:


"We acknowledge the statement from Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner and share the same concerns of the impact Arizona's immigration law will have on Major League players. However, we believe the federal government should act swiftly to address the immigration issue once and for all. We certainly are well aware of the struggles our state has due to federal inaction on illegal immigration. The fallout of recent state legislation has a direct impact on many of our players, employees and fans in Arizona, not to mention our local businesses, many of which are corporate partners of ours. Unfortunately, this whole situation is sad and disappointing for all of us who are associated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. We remain hopeful that this situation can be resolved in a manner that does not cause harm to our great state."


The D-backs will be the host of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in 2011, a weeklong series of events that will drive millions of dollars to local businesses, significantly stimulating a state economy that has suffered recently. The estimated statewide economic impact of hosting an All-Star Game is $150-200 million.


In addition to the potentially enormous economic impact of hosting an All-Star Game, the event also gives the D-backs a larger platform to help out the local foundations and charities that benefit so greatly from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, including many Hispanic-based causes.


Since the Foundation's inception, the D-backs have contributed more than $1 million to Hispanic community programs and youth baseball fields. Kendrick personally contributed $100,000 to the Futbolito Bimbo Soccer League and Tuzos Soccer Club to underwrite the league's expenses with registration, field-use fees, uniforms and equipment. The club allows players from low-income families the opportunity to play in high-level tournaments, where players can be seen by college soccer coaches and have the opportunity to receive scholarships. Kendrick also endowed $2 million to Project Excellence, a program that allows Hispanic children excelling in school an opportunity to further their education in a summer program at Phoenix Country Day School. Kendrick is also the owner of Bumble Bee Ranch in Black Canyon City, about 40 miles north of Phoenix. The ranch has more than 74,000 acres for horseback riding, cattle driving and wilderness tours, and Kendrick has invited and hosted numerous charities supporting children throughout Arizona, with many of those charities benefitting Hispanic children.


The All-Star Week is something that D-backs season-ticket holders and baseball fans of all ages will have an opportunity to enjoy, from the game itself to the Home Run Derby, Futures Game and All-Star Fan Fest. Those events give people the chance, at pricing structures that accommodate any baseball fan, to watch the greatest players perform on the most magnificent stage.


An economic boycott doesn't make sense because it threatens to hurt those local business leaders and Arizona citizens who are not in any way affiliated with the passing of the particular law or its consequences. Many of the people involved in the protests of the D-backs, those who fervently wish to boycott Arizona and remove the 2011 All-Star Game, are from out of state. The main boycott group is comprised of people who are not closely affected in their respective states by the same issues as Arizona, and would go unaffected by a boycott that would be very hurtful to people of all backgrounds in Arizona.


Regardless of what someone thinks of the bill, whether they support it or denounce it, to protest the D-backs organization or the holding of the All-Star Game in Phoenix on the basis of that law is simply misguided.



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