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D-Backs Spring Training Rundown
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01/30/2003 7:32 pm ET 
D-Backs Spring Training Rundown
Pitching jobs up for grabs
By Rich Draper /

Elmer Dessens was acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Reds. (AP)
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2002 record
98-64, first in NL West; 0-3 in postseason

2002 Hitting Leaders
(min. 200 at-bats)
Avg.: Junior Spivey, .301
OBP: Luis Gonzalez, .400
SLG: Erubiel Durazo, .550
Runs: Spivey, 103
RBIs: Gonzalez, 103
Hits: Spivey, 162
2B: Spivey, 34
3B: Quinton McCracken, 8
HR: Gonzalez, 28
SB: Tony Womack, 29

2002 Pitching Leaders
(min. 30 IP)

IP: Randy Johnson, 260
W: Johnson, 24
L: Rick Helling, 12
Win %: Mike Koplove, 7-1, .857
S: Byung-Hyun Kim, 36
ERA: Kim, 2.04
K: Johnson, 334
K/9: Johnson, 11.20
WHIP: Curt Schilling, 1.1

Projected Starting Lineup

3B Craig Counsell
2B Junior Spivey
RF Danny Bautista
LF Luis Gonzalez
CF Steve Finley
SS Tony Womack 1B Lyle Overbay
C Chad Moeller

Projected Rotation
1. Randy Johnson
2. Curt Schilling
3. Elmer Dessens
4. John Patterson
5. Byung-Hyun Kim or Miguel Batista

LH setup man: Mike Myers
RH setup man: Mike Koplove
Closer: Matt Mantei

Spring Cleaning: Five questions that need to be answered
1. Who will be the No. 3 and No. 4 starters behind Big Two Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling?
New acquired, right-hander Elmer Dessens is penciled in, but faces stiff competition from John Patterson and former closer Byung-Hyun Kim, who may get his wish to be a starter. Veteran Miguel Batista remains a long shot for the top four but is almost assured of the No. 5 spot.

2. Will the injury bug bite again?
Starters Danny Bautista (right field), Craig Counsell (infield), Matt Williams (third) and Luis Gonzalez (left field) had to undergo surgery for injuries last season, and the D-Backs hope these solid hitters can remain healthy. Williams has been frustratingly fragile over the past three seasons.

3. Who will be the closer?
Kim was sensational, and set a club record with 36 saves, yet former finisher Matt Mantei has recovered from Tommy John surgery and looked good late last season. Mantei has great velocity, but should he falter, Kim may be forced to return to the bullpen.

4. Who will be the regular first baseman?
Veteran Mark Grace could be in his farewell season, but he's still a Gold Glover and a lifetime .300 hitter. He will tutor premier minor-league hitter Lyle Overbay at first and it's assumed the youngster will eventually take over that spot. Grace reluctantly was a pinch-hitter at times last year.

5. How will the D-Backs bench fare without the bat of Greg Colbrunn?
Now gone to the Mariners, Colbrunn sparked Arizona with a brilliant 2002 campaign, hitting .343 in 42 starting assignments and .333 overall. He was the ultimate fill-in. The main pinch-hitting chores will fall to David Dellucci, who hit .276 in that role last season, plus supersub Quinton McCracken, a solid outfielder who rose from non-roster obscurity to hit .309. Chris Donnels could also return as a utility player.

New Faces: Players aquired via trade or free agency
RHP Elmer Dessens -- With last year's starters Brian Anderson, Rick Helling and Todd Stottlemyre gone, getting a new man was essential. Dessens, 30, was 7-8 with a 3.03 ERA in 30 starts for the Reds last season, with the sixth-best ERA in the National League.
RHP Manny Aybar -- The 30-year-old Aybar spent the 2002 season in the Giants' organization. He opened the year with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate at Fresno, going 1-4 with 24 saves and a 3.75 ERA in 45 games. He was called up on July 27 and pitched in 15 games for San Francisco, going 1.0 with a 2.51 ERA.

Long Gone
1B Erubiel Durazo -- First baseman has enormous power, but was deemed expendable with the development of Lyle Overbay, and traded to Oakland. Durazo hit 16 homers in 72 games last season.
1B Greg Colbrunn -- The man who hit for the cycle last year and provided steady offense will be sorely missed. He hit .364 as a pinch-hitter and opted to sign with Seattle.
C Damian Miller -- Traded to the Chicago Cubs, the 32-year-old catcher was getting too expensive for the D-Backs, while replacements are ever-improving Chad Moeller and Rod Barajas.
P Brian Anderson -- The left-handed pitcher had a mediocre 6-11 record and 4.79 ERA. He was offered salary arbitration but eventually signed with Cleveland, his hometown club.
Rick Helling -- The right-hander's penchant for giving up the long ball plus his 4.51 ERA and inconsistency -- either very good or horrid -- was his downfall.
P Mike Fetters -- The veteran reliever got his wish to be close to his hometown of nearby Gilbert, Ariz., but the right-hander was deemed expendable due to struggling in September.
IF Jay Bell -- The veteran third sacker had a dismal year and could retire, although he may give it one more try with another club.

Returning From Injury
LF Luis Gonzalez -- Separated his shoulder in a scary collision with teammate Tony Womack the final week of the regular season and underwent surgery Sept. 30. He has pronounced himself fit and ready for spring training.
3B Craig Counsell -- He had neck-disk fusion surgery Sept. 18 and says he's will be ready by the start of the regular season. He still must build up his muscle strength and will report a week early to Spring Training.
RF Danny Bautista -- A spectacular dive for a line drive cost Bautista most of last season with multiple shoulder injuries, but he looked good during his final stages of rehab last September and he should return to full strength.
RHP Matt Mantei -- The team's former closer had Tommy John surgery but was on the mend last season and could return to his old role, displacing Byung-Hyun Kim. His pitch velocity crept higher with each outing.

New Kids on the Block: Prospects to watch
1B Lyle Overbay -- The guy has never hit less than .332 in his four-year minor-league career and is ready for the big leagues after batting .343 with 109 RBI and a league-leading 40 doubles at Triple-A Tucson last season. Mark Grace will oversee his transition.
RHP John Patterson -- Still a rookie, the rangy pitcher is on the verge of stardom. He was 2-0 with a 3.23 ERA in seven games with Arizona last season and is in the best shape of his career.
LHP Mike Gosling -- The former Stanford standout had a spectacular 14-5 (3.13) season at Double-A El Paso, but may need more seasoning to join the D-Backs. Then again, this mature lefty could make the jump.

On the Rebound
1B Mark Grace -- You never know about this potential Hall of Famer. He had his worst year ever in 2002 with a .252 average and was relegated to part-time duty. He says 2003 could be his final season. His defensive skills haven't deteriorated, but a good season could mean several more to come.
P Armando Reynoso -- Out nearly all of last season following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck, the right-hander finally returned late in September but wasn't very sharp. He's been invited back to Spring Training.
P Eddie Oropesa -- The southpaw reliever allowed 10 runs in 1 2/3 innings to Los Angeles on Sept. 2 when no on else was available in the 19-2 rout, hence his 10.30 ERA last season. Another chance for redemption in Spring Training.
IF Chris Donnels -- The six-year veteran infielder hit only .238 last season, mainly as a pinch-hitter. Donnels hit his fifth career pinch homer against Colorado and filled in at third base. He was a non-roster invitee last season.

The Bottom Line
All eyes will be on the pitching staff, with visions of a Big Four in sight. The D-Backs can't rely on Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling forever and must develop some solid starters for now and in the future. Byung-Hyun Kim will get his long-anticipated opportunity, and that should be fun to watch.

Rich Draper is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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