Putz photo with Bieber card goes viral
Ziegler tweet prompts questions for surprised D-backs closer
ARLINGTON -- D-backs closer J.J. Putz just thought he was being a good sport when he posed with a Justin Bieber autographed trading card for fellow reliever Brad Ziegler on Wednesday.
What he didn't expect was for Ziegler to tweet the photo and have it go viral on the Internet.
So when a reporter approached Putz on Thursday and asked him about being such a big Bieber fan, he was initially surprised.
"Zieg, way to go," Putz hollered across the clubhouse. "That Bieber thing went, like, viral."
"I know," Ziegler replied. "I picked up 400 Twitter followers."
Ziegler had toured the Panini card company's headquarters in Dallas during the team's off-day Monday. As he was leaving the hotel, Putz saw him in the lobby and yelled "Nerd alert" really loud in front of other people.
So, it appears Ziegler wound up with the last laugh.
"As I walk around [the company], I see several boxes of the Justin Bieber trading card set," Ziegler said. "I asked the guy if there was any way I could get just a pack or two just to give J.J., because he's a huge Bieber fan, and he ended up giving me two boxes."
Now, whether Putz is actually a Bieber fan is apparently in dispute.
"I'm not," Putz said with a stare usually reserved for opposing hitters he faces in the ninth inning.
"Huge Bieber fan, absolutely," Ziegler said. "If he tells you otherwise, he's lying."
Anyway, Putz and his teammates began opening the packs of cards before Wednesday's game, and lo and behold, they wound up with one card that was signed by Bieber.
"They're pretty rare," Ziegler said. "It looks like several thousand packs per autograph."
In fact, reports are that the card could be worth as much as $4,500.
With that in mind, Putz said he is probably going to give the card to reliever Craig Breslow to auction off for his charity.
But if he's such a big Bieber fan, why give it away?
"I'm not a big Bieber fan," Putz said. "We were joking around with the picture. It was a joke. I didn't think that people would take it seriously."
Kennedy happy for good friend Cain
ARLINGTON -- D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy was glued to the television Wednesday night, watching his good friend, Giants right-hander Matt Cain, toss the 22nd perfect game in baseball history.
"I put myself in that situation, and I was real surprised how every single pitch he seemed like really cool and calm in the dugout," Kennedy said. "That's the way he pitches all the time. In an interview, he said inside he was just going crazy."
Kennedy said his friendship with Cain developed during offseason Bible study sessions. The pair live in the Phoenix area.
"I really, really respect him, just how he pitches and how he flies under the radar, which I feel like he does," Kennedy said. "I just always watched him because we were around the same age -- he was a year older -- and watching him pitch, you can really respect that. His command is really good, and I didn't realize how many times he had no-hitters through the seventh. It just shows that yesterday was really something special, I feel like."
Kennedy has had a couple of brushes with no-hitters in his pitching career.
The closest he came was when he was pitching for the University of Southern California, and he had a no-hitter until there were two outs in the ninth. A University of Kansas batter wound up blooping in a single to end it.
Then while pitching in Triple-A for the Yankees, Kennedy was once again one out away from a no-hitter. This time, though, there were two outs in the seventh inning, because it was a doubleheader and in the Minor Leagues, doubleheaders consist of a pair of seven-inning games.
"The last out would have been a ground ball to the second baseman, but he made an error," Kennedy said. "Two pitches later, it was a double off the wall. I'd rather give up a no-hitter on something like that rather than a bloop hit."
Neither of those, though, can compare to what Cain accomplished.
"Doing it at the big league level would be so much better and so much more prestigious," Kennedy said. "And a perfect game is way harder to do."
Injured shortstop Stephen Drew is scheduled to play three straight games for Triple-A Reno beginning Thursday night. It would mark the first time Drew has done that since injuring his right ankle last July 20 while sliding into home.
It appears injured reliever Takashi Saito could be getting closer to returning. The right-hander has been sidelined with a strained calf since the end of Spring Training.
"I'm looking for him to be healthy for an extended period," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said with regards to what will determine when Saito is ready to return. "We've had him close and then he's got hurt. I don't want to make a move on my team right now and then have him come up here and pitch a game or two and get hurt."
To this point, Saito has pitched on a schedule, but after Thursday night, the organization will have him pitch as Reno needs. That means some nights he might warm up and not get into a game, or he may pitch in back-to-back games.
If he's able to handle that, he could be activated.
Injured infielder Geoff Blum will start an injury-rehab assignment in Reno on Friday. Blum has been out since April 17 with a strained left oblique.