HOUSTON - Opposing Hall of Famer Roger Clemens will be Miguel Batista’s second-most difficult assignment in a week. Batista pitched Tuesday with the knowledge that his maternal grandmother had passed away from lung cancer the day before.
“That must be the hardest game in my life to pitch,’’ said Batista, who went six innings in a 6-5, 11-inning victory at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
“You’re trying to get it out of your mind. You’re in shock emotionally.’’
After receiving his passport, which was back in Phoenix, Batista left Philadelphia at 4 a.m. Wednesday for the flight to the Dominican Republic, where his grandmother was buried Thursday.
She had lived in New York since 1994 but moved back to her native country the last week of May, after Batista saw her when the D-Backs played the Mets in New York.
“She always said dying is part of living,’’ Batista said. “Your family is a legacy. Somebody else has to pick it up. You have to keep on going.’’
Batista will oppose Clemens for the first time in his career, adding “Clemens might be the only legend I’ve never faced, him and Pedro (Martinez),’’ although Batista later said that he never faced Randy Johnson because “he was in the other league.’’
TRADE FRONT ALL QUIET
The D-Backs scouted Jake Westbrook’s start in Cleveland on Saturday but feel certain the Indians will not trade him after what general manager Josh Byrnes called “an uneventful day, all things considered,’’ as the 1 p.m. Monday nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
The D-Backs have targeted starting pitching and have “kicked the tires’’ of all the top names, including Florida’s Dontrelle Willis and Oakland’s Barry Zito, but do not believe they are available, either.
Those in the next tier — Cory Lidle, Greg Maddux, Jon Lieber, Rodrigo Lopez — do not appeal to the D-Backs at the current asking price.
“What we’re looking for is hard to get, and we’re not going to part with any big pieces of our future,’’ Byrnes said.
Shawn Green seems certain to remain a D-Back at the deadline but could be a candidate to be traded in the final two months since he is almost certain to clear waivers because of his $9.5 million salary in 2007.
CLOSING IT OUT
Jorge Julio remains the DBacks’ closer, manager Bob Melvin said Saturday, saying extenuating circumstances caused him to stay with Tony Pena for a second inning in the D-Backs’ 8-7, 11-inning victory over Houston on Friday.
Pena pitched the 10th inning of a 7-7 tie, then returned for the 11th because of a pitching shortage, Melvin said.
Of his seven relievers, Randy Choate, Brandon Medders and Brandon Lyon had already pitched and Luis Vizcaino (elbow tenderness) and Greg Aquino (overuse) were unavailable.
That left Julio, and with the pitcher’s spot up third in the 12th inning, Melvin said he wanted to save an arm in case Houston tied the score.
Scott Hairston was activated from his rehabilitation assignment on Saturday and assigned to Triple-A Tucson.