© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
09/03/07 6:02 PM ET
Notes: Eveland may be heading down
D-backs continue pursuit of reliable No. 5 starter in rotation
By Michael Schwartz / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Dana Eveland has never had trouble in the Minor Leagues. But when he reaches the Majors, he becomes a different pitcher. Eveland sports a sparkling 2.61 career ERA in 413 2/3 Minor League innings over five seasons, but that ERA jumps to 7.67 in his 63 1/3 Major League innings, including Saturday's five-run, 2 2/3-inning start. "I was struggling to get the ball down, I was elevating everything," Eveland said about the outing. "So I tried to force the ball downhill by getting more of a downhill tilt and what happened then was that my shoulder started flying open and it just made it worse. My arm was late and the ball was sailing on me." Eveland's start could be his last in Arizona's rotation, as the club continues its search for a reliable fifth starter. Eveland, Yusmeiro Petit and Byung-Hyun Kim, who was released after two starts, racked up a 12.52 ERA over seven previous outings in the No. 5 spot, numbers that could lead manager Bob Melvin to try long reliever Edgar Gonzalez in that role when the spot comes up on Sept. 11. Eveland's issues also stemmed from never throwing his second-best pitch, a slider, in an outing in which he regretted never shaking off catcher Chris Snyder. On top of that, he kept flying open no matter how much he tried to stay closed. "It's an easy adjustment to make normally, but when I tried to make the adjustment that I would normally make in that situation and it didn't work I was like, 'Uh oh, what do I do now?'" Eveland said. "The nerves started kicking in and I thought, 'I can't throw a strike, now what am I going to do?'" Peavy could return early: The D-backs know that they will face the Padres' Nos. 2-3 pitchers in Chris Young and Greg Maddux during this week's series. They may also have to prepare for ace Jake Peavy as well. Padres general manager Kevin Towers said San Diego could bring Peavy back on three days' rest for Wednesday's series finale. That would be bad news for Arizona, as Peavy has gone 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings over four starts against the D-backs this season. "We've talked a little bit about it," Towers said. "A lot of it depends on how he's feeling and how the first couple of games go here. It's an option." Bonifacio off to the races: When the D-backs brought up Emilio Bonifacio from Double-A as a September callup, the main reason had to do with his speed. He flashed his ability to run on Sunday when he went from first to third on a Conor Jackson single while pinch-running for Chris Snyder. Second baseman Kazuo Matsui could not make that play, because he broke to second to cover the base, but he got to the ball before it scooted too deep into right field. "If that ball gets into the outfield he scores on a single to right from first," Melvin said. "He was going pretty good. Granted, he's running on the pitch and all, but that's pretty impressive." Pena bounces back: Tony Pena looked more like the dominant pitcher of the first four months of the year on Sunday than the reliever who struggled throughout the past month. Pena needed just six pitches, all strikes, to keep the D-backs within one with a scoreless ninth. He had yielded runs in seven of his previous 10 outings before Sunday, leading to a 7.30 ERA in August after compiling a 1.92 ERA through the first four months. "Every time he goes out there, I think it's as much mentally as anything else," Melvin said. "Hopefully we're past a little bump in the road for him, because he's a very important guy for us." Not your usual pitcher: Typically when a pitcher's spot in the batting order comes up, a manager may be tempted to take him out earlier than usual to have a better chance in that at-bat. For Melvin, when pitcher Micah Owings has struggled through an inning late in his outing, he has been more inclined to stay with the right-hander to get to his at-bat, especially on days he's had few right-handed pinch-hitters off the bench. Owings, who leads all pitchers with four homers and 12 RBIs and hit a third-inning double on Monday, has drawn visits from opposing pitching coaches when he steps to the plate. "This guy is a legitimate threat, and the more he plays and the more at-bats he gets, the better he's going to be, because he's one of the few," Melvin said. "This guy's got the chance to really put up some numbers like a hitter does." Now batting fifth: For the fifth straight game, Stephen Drew found himself hitting fifth in Arizona's lineup. Although Drew has disappointed this season with a .234 batting average entering Monday, he's been better of late, batting .333 over a five-game hitting streak. He has reached base safely in seven straight games, including 21 of his last 24. "He has swung the bat well," Melvin said. "Even the days where he hasn't gotten the hits he still had some good at-bats. He has not had much luck at all, and I still feel like he's going to be a tremendous offensive player, and we need him here offensively down the stretch." Up next: The D-backs continue their final series of the year with the Padres on Tuesday at Chase Field, with Arizona's Doug Davis (12-11, 4.09 ERA) squaring off against Chris Young (9-5, 2.38) at 6:40 p.m. MST.
Michael Schwartz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.