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Arizona Diamondbacks – Corbin looks to the future

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Patrick Corbin (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Patrick Corbin (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
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Patrick Corbin, a left-hander for the Arizona Diamondbacks, want to start next season

If there is one player likely to gain with a new manager coming in for the Arizona Diamondbacks, this could be left-hander pitcher Patrick Corbin.

By mid-season, Corbin seemed to be at odds with former manager Chip Hale. Whether a contentious relationship resulted in a disastrous season, Corbin is now the first likely to turn the page and begin anew.

Patient with his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2014 and half of the 2015 season, the Diamondbacks’ organization had every assurance Corbin recovered and ready to resume his station within the rotation. Counted behind Zack Greinek, pre-ordained as the ace, and Shelby Miller in spring training as the third starter, Corbin gained strength and blew through the pre-season games like a hot knife slicing butter.

The hope was Corbin could regain magic of his 2013 season. That’s when the native of Clay, N. Y. recorded a 14-8 season, 3.41 ERA and named to the National League All-Star team. Appointed as the Arizona opening day starter for 2014 in Sydney, Australia, Corbin never made the assignment. Eventually, he underwent season-ending surgery on March 25, and recovery to a damaged left elbow ended his season before that began.

Coming off a reasonably successful season a year ago, in which he went 6-5 in 16 starts, Corbin approached spring training with renewed vigor. In five, pre-season starts, Corbin recorded a sparkling 1.71 ERA and gave the opposition just four earned runs in 21 innings.

Slotted behind Greinke and Miller, Corbin’s start of the season was the antithesis of what he accomplished in spring games. In his first start at home against the Colorado Rockies, Corbin allowed three home runs and took the loss. With faith in his rotation, Hale kept Corbin in the rotation until disaster struck. By early August, Corbin was banished to the bullpen, and that’s where he finished the season.

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From that difficult start in early April, the wheels quickly came off, and Corbin fell into an unsettling pattern.

“It was a frustrating start to the season,” Corbin said during the final home stand earlier this month. “I couldn’t figure it out. Obviously, I want to start, and I’ll go into the off-season and prepare to get back in the rotation.”

If Corbin experienced a physical decline, his relationship with Hale could be describe as uneasy. When pulled early from a game in July, Corbin questioned Hale’s judgment, and could not understand why he was taken out early.

Later in the season, Archie Bradley also questioned Hale’s short hook.

In both cases, each pitcher expressed disappointment, but understood the decision lay with the manager. Though reasons were not given for Hale’s dismissal, as well as that of former general manager Dave Stewart, each fired the day after the recent season ended, Hale’s handling of the pitching staff could be one factor. Over the course of the two seasons managing Arizona, Hale developed a penchant for a sharp hook and keeping pitchers on a short leash.

Given the evolving nature of the game, where set-up pitchers have now been replaced with pitchers going after one hitter at a time, Hale’s approach to the staff was thought to be decisive in the decision to let him go.

For Corbin, his miserable season of 5-13, an ERA of 5.15 in 36 appearances and 24 starts, is in the rear-view mirror. Able to pinpoint the malady, he’s ready to move forward.

“The problem, it seemed the whole season, was falling behind hitters,” Corbin said. “That really hurt, and I had to come-from-behind. Along with Shelby, we were supposed to help this team, but it didn’t work out that way. I felt good all year, and going forward, I just have to make good pitches.”

For now, Corbin, who finished strong in the bullpen, wants to regain his place within the rotation. Then again, that’s up the new regime.

On the horizon

If the Arizona Diamondbacks are to fully participate in off-season activities and meetings, the hiring process for a new GM and new manager need to be accelerated.

That’s because the GM meetings are slated for Nov. 7-10 in Scottsdale. It’s the hope and desire of Ken Kendrick, the team’s general managing partner, and Derrick Hall, club president, is to have personnel in place by that time.

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With Stewart and De Jon Watson, the team’s vice president of baseball operations, both let go, the one remaining executive who could fill in at the GM meetings at this point, is Bryan Minniti, the club’s assistant GM. A better guess is that Tony La Russa, the club’s Chief Baseball Officer, will represent the team at the GM sessions.

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