Notes: Almanza joins D-Backs
Lefty reliever Lopez designated for assignment
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks continued to tweak their bullpen in search of the right combination when they purchased the contract of left-hander Armando Almanza on Tuesday and designated Javier Lopez for assignment.
Almanza took a circuitous route to Bank One Ballpark. He began the year with Triple-A Fresno in the Giants' organization, but he was released on April 14 after making two appearances. The D-Backs signed him a week later and assigned him to Double-A Tennessee, where he made six appearances.
The Diamondbacks promoted him to Tucson, where after two outings he was released, only to re-sign on May 30. Overall, he was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 15 appearances for Tucson.
"Javy really got off to a hot start for us and was that guy that we bring in for a particular left-hander, and as of late we weren't getting a whole lot of results," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "Reports from our people in Triple-A were that Almanza not only gets lefties out, he gets righties out."
Almanza has made 284 big league appearances since making his debut with the Marlins in 1999. He was asked if he was surprised when he got the news Monday night.
"Yeah, considering I had been passed up a couple times," Almanza said. "I didn't know when I was going to get called up."
Whereas Lopez was limited to just facing lefties, Melvin feels that with a 94 mph fastball, sharp curve and changeup, Almanza can also get right-handers out.
"Almanza's here in a role similar to what Javy had," Melvin said. "Yet we feel like we can run him through three or four hitters and pitch an inning."
Not as good: Brandon Lyon said his bullpen session Monday did not go as well as his first one last Friday in Los Angeles.
"It was a little discomfort," Lyon said. "It wasn't pain. It wasn't something where I needed to stop throwing at that time. It was something where probably the last half I felt it. I was definitely throwing more intensely than I did the first time."
Lyon has been on the DL since May 13 with an elbow strain. He was planning on playing catch Tuesday and said if he felt OK he would throw another side session Wednesday. If he didn't feel good, he would give himself another day off.
"I think it's just part of the progression process," Lyon said. "I'm lifting more. I'm trying to get strong and that could have played a role."
Just playing around: Fans watching Shawn Green while he was standing on second base Monday probably were wondering why the right fielder was so fidgety on the basepaths.
The players in the St. Louis dugout watching Green thought he was relaying stolen signs to his teammates at the plate. But Green, who insisted Tuesday he wasn't doing anything of the sort, knew what the Cardinals were thinking and decided to play along.
"I knew they were all looking, so I was just [messing] around out there," said Green, who extended his hitting streak to six with three hits Tuesday. "Just a lot of movement. I thought it was kind of funny that they were all watching me like that."
The suspicions arose in the sixth when the St. Louis dugout thought Green was sending signs to Jose Cruz Jr. Green and Cruz were teammates in the late '90s in Toronto, a team with a reputation for gamesmanship.
"I played for a couple teams that were big on stealing signs and stuff like that, so maybe they just assumed I'd be doing that," Green said. "Really, signs are given to try to hide it from the other team, the other team tries to get them. If you think a team is stealing your signs, change your signs."
Sign here: The Diamondbacks signed their third-round pick Jason Neighborgall on Tuesday. The right-hander who pitched for Georgia Tech was assigned to Rookie League Missoula.
The Diamondbacks also agreed to terms with their second pick in the third round, Micah Owings, as well as 17th-round pick Jason Urquidez.
Owings will be assigned to Class A Lancaster, while Urquidez will start at short-season Yakima.
And on the seventh day: After playing catch for six straight days, Russ Ortiz took a day off Monday. Ortiz, who has been out since June 16 with a stress fracture in his right rib cage, has been able to push his throwing distance out to 100 feet in the last couple of days.
Ortiz still has no timetable for his return, but said if he continues to progress, he might throw off a mound shortly after the All-Star break.
"We'll just take a day off today and start back out tomorrow," Ortiz said. "If everything goes well in the next couple of days, then we'll decide whether or not I'll throw off the mound."
Up next: Javier Vazquez will take the mound for the Diamondbacks on Wednesday in the third game of this four-game set.
Vazquez took the loss in his last start against the Dodgers when he allowed six runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Daniel Blank contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.