Arizona Diamondbacks – coping with losing
By Mark Brown
Since an opening day loss, the season for the Arizona Diamondbacks spiraled downward.
LOS ANGELES – The current season for the Arizona Diamondbacks have been less than thrilling. If results truly tell the story, the season, in all reality, has been disastrous.
From high-profile transactions in the off-season to lofty expectations throughout spring training, the spark was robust, and anticipation dripped from the mouth of every Arizona Diamondbacks player. As the team prepared in March, manager Chip Hale and other decision-makers were constantly asked to assess the team’s disposition. Time after time in the spring, Hale reminded listeners that the team won nothing, but his excitement was hardly hidden.
Armed with a ready smile and confident nod, Hale proceeded to go about his business as if he was not a major figure in a whirlwind of hope.
If opening night was any indication, the season came crashing down like a house of cards. When Zack Greinke allowed seven earned runs in just four innings and surrendered three homers in an eventual 10-5 loss to the Rockies in Chase Field, the slide started. Then, a steady stream and now, an avalanche.
Coming into play Friday night against the Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks were in the National League West Division basement, and 18 games under .500. For the remaining two months of the season, the team could hope to reach the .500 level, and from this point, that alone would be a significant achievement.
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“It’s really frustrating, and losing is always tough,” said veteran reliever Tyler Clippard in the clubhouse before Friday’s game with the Dodgers here. “It’s interesting to come to the ball park every day and see how each guy faces the day. I think the best thing we could do is start a string, some kind of string. That would show us some kind of expectation and opportunity.”
Perhaps Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout presented the best perspective. During the recent All-Star break in San Diego, Trout was entertaining more than the usual dose of difficult questions. That’s because the Angels, similar to the Arizona Diamondbacks, experienced their season slip away early. Coming into their Friday night home game against the Boston Red Sox, the Angels were 46-56 and 12.5 games behind the American League West Division leading Texas Rangers.
“Losing just sucks,” he said to a crowded table of reporters on media day before the mid-summer classic. “But, you have to stay positive.”
If there has been any redeeming feature of this Arizona Diamondbacks team, Hale identified one word, “resilient.” Given the fortunes of his team, the manager reports that his team arrives at the clubhouse each day energized and ready to win. While injuries and underachievements have characterized the season in general, the Diamondbacks remains a strange dichotomy of misfortune and hopefulness.
Despite Hale’s characterization, there is not much joy in the clubhouse these days. Where players tend to haze one other, toss a few footballs around, use a putting strip to improve their game, play video games and cruise the internet, there remains not much collective energy.
“It’s not easy coping with losing,” Hale said. “When the players walk in, there is a high energy level. They prepare well and ready to play. But I agree, it’s tough coping with losing.”
Within this perspective, the Diamondbacks’ direction and vision changed. From scouring rosters for help in a pennant drive, the Arizona Diamondbacks are now reduced to the role of sellers. Names like pitcher Daniel Hudson and infielder Jean Segura seem to circulate with regularity. At this point, Dave Stewart, the team’s general manager, receives more calls on his players then he makes.
“The rumors are always out there,” Hale said. “Because of social media, the need of many reporters to be the first to break a story influences what we say. For that reason, (Stewart) keeps close to the vest.”
In the trainer’s room
Before Friday’s game with the Dodgers, Hale identified seven players in various form of rehabilitation and recovery.
None of the seven, pitchers Zack Greinke, Andrew Chafin and Rubby De La Rosa, outfielders Socrates Brito and A. J. Pollock, infielder Nick Ahmed and catcher Chris Herrmann, are ready to return to the active 25-man roster.
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Before Friday’s game, outfielder David Peralta was activated from the disabled list. Peralta suffered from lower back pain, and was on the DL since June 20, retro back to June 15. Peralta was in the line-up Friday night, and batting sixth against Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers’ starter.