05/11/10 10:26 PM ET
Hinch, D-backs keep positive mood
By Jason P. Skoda / Special to MLB.com
"There is no real good way to describe going through these little pitfalls," said Hinch, whose team has lost four in a row at home to fall to the bottom of the National League West. "The best thing you can do is persevere and push through it. We are the ones who are going to have to change it. It's a matter of making adjustments and continuing to push on."
The bullpen has taken the brunt of the blame in the early going, but the offense -- which has scored six runs or more 12 times -- has disappeared with a propensity to strikeout (41 times in the four-game losing streak).
"We have guys who are going to strike out," he said. "When it happens in bunches, it is pretty ugly and that affects our team offense."
The D-backs have flirted with .500 the past couple of weeks, last reaching it on April 29 at 11-11, but have not been over since April 15 when they were 5-4 and in the midst of losing a series to the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Hinch said it isn't necessarily a sign of what the summer is going to be like in Arizona.
"I have a hard time thinking these 30-plus games into the season we have to automatically know what is going to happen over the next 130," he said. "There is a lot of baseball left to be played. Now we've had some opportunities, we've blown some leads, we've played very sporadic."
D-backs keep options open for bullpen
PHOENIX -- It just could be that the D-backs' season-long problem is coming to a head.
General manager Josh Byrnes said they won't make a move just to make a point or send a signal with the bullpen, but that doesn't mean something isn't in the offing.
"Any move is to believe we can get better, not just to demonstrate we are trying," Byrnes said before Tuesday's game at Chase Field against the Dodgers. "The starters have done what they are supposed to do, and that's not overwork the bullpen. Sacrificing someone at the altar to make a point, I don't know if that accomplishes a whole lot.
"We talk about it all the time -- being patient, using guys differently. Our options are the Minors or other teams."
When a team has a bullpen ERA of 7.09 and the wreckage has touched just about anyone who comes out of the bullpen, the front office will go through a myriad of options.
If the Chicago Cubs can put Carlos Zambrano in the bullpen, then just about anything is viable.
"On a list of 100 thoughts, it's not high on that list," Byrnes said of moving one of his starters, say the hard-throwing Edwin Jackson and his 7.32 ERA.
"Everything gets talked about," Byrnes said. "Some things you control, some things you don't. We've lost four in a row [entering Tuesday action against the Dodgers], but we should have been in a better spot four days ago. We let some get away from us."
Byrnes also indicated that one of the options in the Minors -- left-hander Clay Zavada -- might not be available much longer. Zavada has pitched three innings in five games for Triple-A Reno with an ERA of 30.00.
"We are dealing with some issues medically," Byrnes said. "We are trying to find out what is going on. We have a decent idea, but we are going to get a second opinion."
Zavada was solid in 2009 for the bullpen when he went 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 49 games and 51 innings, but he didn't make the team of Spring Training.
Carlos Rosa, who was recently acquired from Kansas City on May 1, is a possible option. He is 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in 12 1/3 innings since coming to the organization.
"We want to get him situated with our organization and evaluate him against our own," Byrnes said. "There is no doubt. He has a little bit of big league experience and he has a good arm."
With off-day, D-backs to skip Valdez
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said they have decided to skip fifth starter Cesar Valdez's turn in the rotation with Thursday's off-day.
It sets up Ian Kennedy for Friday's outing in Atlanta with Rodrigo Lopez taking the ball Saturday and Dan Haren on Sunday.
Valdez, who is 1-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts since Kris Benson went on the disabled list, will then come back some time in the two-game Florida series that starts Monday.
"He's pitched OK, but we'll keep [the rotation on] on their regular turns," Hinch said. "There's a likelihood that he will get one outing out of the bullpen to keep him fresh. It's not an audition [to help out the struggling bullpen] and he should start in Florida."
The operative word in that statement being "should" as general manager Josh Byrnes said anyone is a viable option down there right now.
"He could help," Byrnes said. "He does a lot of things [that fit that role]. He throws strikes, gets the ball on the ground and has a swing-and-miss pitch. We'll see. Right now, I think we have to be flexible in how we do a lot of things."
Ryal not dwelling on scary hit vs. Kuroda
PHOENIX -- D-backs reserve infielder Rusty Ryal said if he should face Dodgers starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda in the series finale Wednesday, it wouldn't be any different than facing any other right-hander.
Last August, Ryal hit a line drive that caromed off Kuroda's head in a game at Chase Field.
"I said what I needed to say when it happened," Ryal said. "It was an unfortunate situation and it happened. We take the same chance as [pitchers] do when we get in the box, except we don't have control of the ball. I'm glad to see he is back on the mound."
Ryal has been one of the National League's best pinch-hitters to start the season, as he is 6-for-13 (.462) entering Tuesday's action. The six hits tie Pittsburgh's Delwyn Young for the NL lead.
Lopez pitches in front of idol Fernando
PHOENIX -- D-backs right-hander Rodrigo Lopez pitched in front one of his idols on Monday against the Dodgers.
Fellow Mexican countryman Fernando Valenzuela, who is part of the Dodgers' Spanish broadcast team, was an inspiration for Lopez and the two have teamed up to do charity work for their homeland.
"He is the reason I started playing baseball," said Lopez, who took the loss in Monday's game. "I've known him for a long time and I've played against him and been in the same dugout in the World Baseball Classic [Valenzuela was coach]."
Jason P. Skoda is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.