Diamondbacks catchers lead the National League in home runs and RBIs and are tied with Cleveland for the major league lead in both categories, a distinct turnaround from last season, when they were last in both.
It was an area of focus over the winter, when the D-Backs acquired Johnny Estrada after making overtures to Paul LoDuca to find an offensive threat to pair with Chris Snyder.
Estrada has three home runs and 14 RBIs, while Snyder has two homers and nine RBIs.
“Chris Snyder worked very hard this offseason, and you can tell. He’s a more confident hitter. He’s a better hitter. He’s driving the ball and driving in some big runs for us. Johnny always gives you a quality at-bat. He’s going to drive in some runs for you,’’ Chad Tracy said.
“When you get down to that spot in the lineup, it’s nice when you can get a couple of guys on and have your pitcher be able to bunt them over and then bring the top of the lineup back up.’’
Estrada and Snyder, who bat seventh or eighth, have helped lengthen a D-Backs lineup that is in the top half of the National League in batting average, runs, total bases and slugging percentage.
“It is really a plus for our offense when you have a catcher who is able to drive the ball out of the ballpark and do little things when we need it,’’ Luis Gonzalez said.
D-Backs catchers had 12 homers and 46 RBIs last season.
“One through eight (in the lineup) we battle,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “We don’t think there is an inning that will start that we can’t score some runs.’’
BUOYED BY THE SINKER
After getting flier Kenny Lofton to ground into a double play Tuesday, Casey Daigle has three ground-ball double plays in his five appearances.
He credits the new sinking fastball he developed after moving to the bullpen at Double-A Tennessee last year.
“Whenever I feel like I need a ground ball or need a big out, I feel like right now I can turn to that,’’ Daigle said.
“I knew if I could just locate that sinker down and away (to Lofton), I had a chance. I’ve been throwing it all year. I’m just going to keep working on it.’’
Daigle has not been scored on in his last three outings with the D-Backs and was 1-0 with a save in six appearances with Triple-A Tucson.
Daigle and his wife, Jennie Finch, are expecting their first child any day.
Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin will take batting practice with the D-Backs this afternoon, and Melvin is no stranger to celebrities on the field. In Seattle, Eddie Vedder, singer of the rock group Pearl Jam, took batting practice with the Mariners and also took a turn shagging flies. “He was dirty at the end of the day, diving for balls in the outfield,’’ Melvin said. . . .
Juan Cruz could be extended to six or seven innings in his second start of the season today, Melvin said. Cruz will make his first career start against the Cubs, who gave him his first contract in 1997 before trading him to Atlanta in 2004, but said it is no big deal. “It’s just business,’’ he said of the trade. “I try to beat everybody.’’