Heilman set to become first-time free agent
D-backs reliever has yet to begin talks with front office
PHOENIX -- The D-backs' most consistent relief pitcher in their oft-beleaguered bullpen will soon be a free agent for the first time.
Right-hander Aaron Heilman (4-4, 3.83 ERA) will officially surpass the necessary six years of service time when Arizona stops playing baseball in early October. He said his agent has not engaged in exploratory talks with the D-backs' front office regarding a future contract.
"It's a good organization, and I have certainly enjoyed my time here," Heilman said before Saturday's game with the Rockies. "Whether I'll be back or not, I don't know. I'm not going to try to predict how everything will play out."
Heilman, who arrived from the Cubs in exchange for two Minor Leaguers a week after his 31st birthday last November, will make a total of $2.15 million in salary this season. He will likely see a significant bump in that number given his strong campaign in 2010.
D-backs sign Hampton to Triple-A squad
PHOENIX -- D-backs interim general manager Jerry Dipoto has called on an old friend to potentially help stabilize the Majors' worst bullpen.
And, with the Rockies in town, the timing couldn't be more perfect.
In the first inning of his club's Saturday evening game, Dipoto announced that he had signed veteran lefty and former Colorado teammate Mike Hampton to a Minor League contract.
Hampton threw a 60 pitches in front of Arizona's brass at Chase Field on Wednesday, and will pitch in relief for Triple-A Reno, starting with a one-inning appearance on Monday.
Dipoto was hesitant to offer a timetable for the 38-year-old Hampton's callup, but if all goes well, said he can envision Hampton joining the D-backs' 'pen for the season's final weeks. Hampton has committed to transitioning into a full-time relief role, the GM added.
Hampton, a two-time All-Star who compiled a 148-115 record and a 4.07 ERA during his 15-year Major League career with five clubs, made 21 starts for the Astros in 2009. He underwent an operation to repair a torn rotator cuff and other damage to his shoulder last September. Hampton also missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons due to Tommy John surgery.
"Obviously we're going to find out in the next couple weeks what Mike has in his tank," Dipoto said.
Hampton, who wasn't speaking with other clubs concerning a comeback, could pitch for Arizona beyond this season.
"2011 is a possibility," Dipoto added, "but that will play itself out."
From playing together in Colorado prior to the 2001 season and against one another in National League games years prior, Dipoto remembered Hampton's inimitable competitiveness -- a trait, he said, the D-backs clubhouse and bullpen could use.
Hampton actually began his Major League career as a reliever for Seattle in 1993. He also made 44 relief appearances for the Astros in 1994.
"He may not remember that long ago," Dipoto said in jest, "but [relieving] is something he's tried before."
Kennedy made decision to exit on Friday
PHOENIX -- Ian Kennedy did something Friday night that macho Major League starters don't normally do.
He asked out.
The D-backs right-hander, who had thrown 93 pitches through five arduous innings, told pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. that the club was better off if the bullpen took over. Interim manager Kirk Gibson had planned on Kennedy pitching the sixth.
"Stott came up to me and tapped me and said, 'I want to get him out of there,'" Gibson recalled.
In general, Gibson added, he will not seek out his starter and ask how he is feeling.
Across the board, pitchers aren't always completely honest anyway.
"Most of the time, we make the decision for them," Gibson said.
Kennedy, who said he wasn't as tired as he was simply scuffling, made a good call. Blaine Boyer pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh, starting a string of five no-run frames by the 'pen before Kelly Johnson delivered the game-winning hit over the Rockies in the 10th.
Carrasco trying for better results with D-backs
PHOENIX -- D-backs relief pitcher D.J. Carrasco has settled in. Now he's working to attain better results.
Carrasco, one of three players acquired from Pittsburgh on July 31, was living out of his suitcase for almost three weeks. The Safford, Ariz., native had never been traded before.
"It was taxing at times," he admitted.
A similar adjective could be used to describe his first eight appearances as a member of the D-backs. He's allowed at least one run in five of them.
"When I'm going good, I get ahead in the count; that's how I get outs at this level," he said. "At times, it has not been that way."
Like Thursday night, when Carrasco threw first-pitch strikes to just two of the seven batters he faced, and deterred by a two-out fielding error behind him, yielded five unearned runs.
"When it all comes down to it," Carrasco said, "you have to make your pitch."
Interim manager Kirk Gibson has made some changes since taking over as skipper on July 2. As part of a general aim to get players to seek out their own information, Gibson began assigning each member of his bullpen to watch video and design for himself a nightly game plan. "That was presented to you" on other teams, said right-hander D.J. Carrasco, who has previously pitched for Kansas City, Chicago and Pittsburgh. ... Gibson said that, with the club being idle on Monday, he will keep his rotation on turn, meaning all five starters will pitch on an extra day's rest, starting with Rodrigo Lopez on Tuesday in San Diego.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.