SAN FRANCISCO – Coming out of spring training, Arizona manager Chip Hale explained the first month of the season would be challenging at best. Taking on three National League Central division teams which qualified for the post-season last season, and a 10-game trip to three California cities, Hale reiterated the need to stay focus and on the task at hand.
After coming out of the gate at home by losing five of seven games against the Rockies and Cubs, the Diamondbacks have quietly turned things around. As the current road trip comes to an end at AT&T Park here late Thursday afternoon, results of a dismal opening week have turn to renewed confidence.
After taking last weekend series in San Diego, and taking the series against the Giants here, the Diamondbacks return to Chase Field Friday night an assured band. Coming into Thursday’s afternoon game at AT&T Park, they have won five of their last six games and stand 1.5 games behind the National League West Division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
“When you start at home, there is not a clean break,” Hale said before Thursday’s afternoon game with the Giants. “What I mean is that when you start on the road, there is that clean break with spring training, and a feeling of starting new. On the trip now, the players have got together and know the DNA about themselves.”
Calling games with the Dodgers, Padres and Giants “productive,’ Hale pointed out the continuing critical nature of the first month. The fact the Diamondbacks now have the Pirates and Cardinals at home may be an advantage, but the bottom line remains execution.
If results of the trip have been positive, one catalyst is third baseman Jake Lamb. When Hale said in the off-season he would like to see more power from Lamb, the native of Seattle reposed. With one game left on the trip against the Giants, Lamb is 5-for-11, including three doubles, a triple and home run in the Giants series. On the trip overall, Lamb is 10-31 with five walks.
“I just want consistency,” said general manager Dave Stewart, who spoke on this trip. “I’m looking at Jake to have challenging at-bats against quality pitches. Numbers are not important.”
Because the first week was challenging, there learning curve was postulated. Rosters are unsettled and playing time in spring games is compromised. Now, the 25-man contingent is in place, playing time is extended, and a certain comfort level is now at hand.
During the Diamondbacks’ series. Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said, “it usually takes about the first month for things to settle in, and guys get to feel comfortable.” For players, this transition period is shorter.
“Our guys are feeling good about themselves, and things are coming together,” said center-fielder Chris Owings. “We’re playing better, and getting more confidence.”
BACK TO WORK
On the disabled list since the final week of spring training, right-hander Josh Collmenter is ready to resume game participation. Recovering from right shoulder inflammation, Collmenter will pick up a baseball in a competitive environment over the next few days.
The time-table is for Collmenter, whom the Diamondbacks consider a valuable long reliever, is to begin throwing in games next week. Over the subsequent two weeks, the native of Homer, Mich. could be back on the major league roster.
“Aside from physically getting ready, Josh has worked on mechanics and velocity on his fast ball increased,” manager Chip Hale said before Thursday’s game with the Giants. “He is our long reliever, and that’s a role which fits him well.”
Collmenter’s return to the Diamondbacks could be as early as the first week of May. If all goes according to plan, Collmenter returns to the bullpen as that important long reliever, and Tyler Wagner repairs to AAA Reno. That’s where Wagner can resume his role as a starter.