The Diamondbacks believe their focus on throwing first-pitch strikes will carry them through an atypical early-season stretch that has resulted in 135 walks, which ranks 14th in the NL.
Livan Hernandez, Brandon Webb and Doug Davis are among the top 10 in the league in walks, and Hernandez leads with 28 after walking three in a 3-1 victory Sunday.
“You throw a lot of strikes, you get hit easier,” said Hernandez, who picked his spots by walking Shawn Green twice with first base open Sunday. “He’s hitting .350.”
Overall, “we are just having lapses,” D-Backs pitching coach Bryan Price said.
“I think when the year is over, we won’t look at ourselves as one of the bottom three teams in walks allowed. Nevertheless, it’s been a hindrance the first 30 games.”
The number stands out because the D-Backs are doing other things well – they are sixth with a 3.60 ERA, second with 225 strikeouts and second with 12 saves.
“We need to work ahead more in the count, because guys aren’t as particular hitting in 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 counts as they are when they are in the driver’s seat,” Price said. “You can make a great pitch on 1-0, and now it is just 1-1. Whereas if you are at 0-1, it is a ball that is put in play or you’re sitting 0-2. That’s a big difference.”
Melvin called slumping Alberto Callaspo into his office after Saturday night’s game to reassure him of the D-Backs’ faith, and Callaspo responded by going 2-for-4 Sunday to break a 2-for-37 drought.
“To let him know he is one of our (long-term) guys,” Melvin said. “He ain’t going anywhere. One of the things he does best is the belief in himself. ”
Callaspo’s double in the eighth was his first extra-base hit since April 11. He hit .337 with Triple-A Tucson last season, making his fifth consecutive minor league All-Star team “I’m just trying to help the team. Sometimes you want to do too much, and you don’t get anything. I’m not getting anything,” said Callaspo, 24. “(Melvin) just told me to keep my head up and keep going. I’ve never had anything like this. ”
Randy Johnson and Philadelphia’s Jamie Moyer will make more major league history if they oppose each other Wednesday, as scheduled.
They would be the oldest pair of left-handers by combined age to start against each other, eclipsing the record Johnson and San Diego’s David Wells set here April 24.
Johnson and Wells were a combined 87 years, 200 days.
Johnson and Moyer will be a combined 88 years, 48 days.
Juan Cruz is scheduled to throw 35 pitches in a second extended spring training game Tuesday. He could be activated later in the week. . . .
Jeff DaVanon (shoulder) is expected to report to extended spring training Thursday, when the D-Backs leave for an 11-day road trip . Arm strength is DaVanon’s issue now. Melvin expects DaVanon back by the end of the month. . . .
Chad Tracy (rib cage) took infield and threw to first with trainer Ken Crenshaw watching. He was available to pinch hit Sunday.