07/09/10 9:48 PM ET
Young has chance for 30-30 season
Outfielder on pace to possibly reach milestone
By Andrew Pentis / MLB.com
"You don't really know how the season could turn out," the D-backs All-Star center fielder said on Friday, wary of projecting his inclusion into a historic, 35-member club. "It could speed up, it could slow down. Thirty stolen bases, I would probably be more happy about than the 30 home runs but, by all means, I would be happy if I could reach both."
Young came ever so close to achieving the milestone -- one that no Arizona player has ever achieved -- in 2007, his first full Major League season. He recorded 32 home runs and 27 stolen bases, though over the next two seasons, both his homers (22 to 15) and steals (14 to 11) decreased markedly.
With 15 dingers and 16 thefts (12 of which have come since June 5) through 86 games this season, Young is on pace finish 2010 with 28 and 30, respectively.
It's his increased aggressiveness on the basepaths -- something he spoke about all the way back in Spring Training -- that has explained his ascension in interim manager Kirk Gibson's lineup card.
"He's probably our best baserunner, has the best ability to put more pressure on the opposition," Gibson said of his leadoff man. "He's going to affect what [No. 2 hitter] Kelly [Johnson] gets up there; you got the [3-4] hole over there, and Kelly pulls the ball well."
That kind of small ball -- a staple of Gibson's style as skipper -- only works, however, when Young doesn't clear the bases by himself, no sure bet.
"I've hit 30 before; it's not unreachable," Young said of his home-run total, the more difficult half of the 30-30 milestone. "Wherever I end up, I end up."
Parra's defense, bat coming together
PHOENIX -- As much as interim manager Kirk Gibson welcomed Gerardo Parra's four-hit night on Thursday, he preferred to wax on about Parra's defense on Friday.
"His outfield play -- [bench/outfielders coach] Bo [Porter] has worked very well with him -- his outfield play has been outstanding," Gibson said. "He's made some good plays."
In Thursday's seventh inning, Parra robbed the Marlins' Chris Coghlan, his left-field counterpart, with a head-forward dive. And in Tuesday's loss to the Cubs, his sixth-inning relay throw to shortstop Stephen Drew led to catching a greedy Ryan Theriot at third base.
"He's really harnessed his arm ... just look at the trajectory of his throws, how far they go," Gibson said. "Most guys' throws -- when they come in -- they bounce and pop up. Parra's probably isn't going to bounce. You got to watch these because it'll break your wrist. If it does bounce, it's coming in low and hot."
Such was the case on Wednesday against Chicago, though not for the better. Parra's fifth-inning toss homeward skipped all the way to backstop, allowing two baserunners to advance.
Nevertheless, it was Parra's first fielding error in 2010. He has at least one outfield assist from each outfield position and nine total in his nearly two seasons at the Major League level.
That four-hit game, Parra's third of his career, in the D-backs' 10-4 win over the visiting Marlins on Thursday did merit a question on Friday: Could he eventually combine with center fielder Chris Young and right fielder Justin Upton on a consistent, three-man outfield, especially given his defensive prowess?
Gibson's response: The left-handed-hitting Parra, who starts mostly against right-handed pitchers, would see more opportunities against opposing clubs' lefties, including situational relievers late in games.
"That's how I was brought along," Gibson said of his own playing career's beginnings. "The other day [Wednesday] when I left him in [against Cubs lefty James Russell], he was looking in the dugout [for reassurance] -- I've been there -- and I said, 'Hey, go get 'em, man.'"
Parra, who has platooned with Cole Gillespie of late, batted .290 (20-for-69) over his past 25 games entering Friday.
"He's just a natural hitter," Gibson said. "He didn't play much this year early; it was really hard for him, so when we moved Conor Jackson on [to the Oakland A's on May 8], it helped him quite a bit.
"Gerardo, his game, who knows the ceiling of it? We're going to give him the opportunity to prove himself."
On the electronic board where the D-backs' starting lineup and daily schedule is posted each day read a message wishing catcher Miguel Montero a happy 36th birthday. "I'm 27!" Montero yelled in the clubhouse, though he couldn't help but smile at his teammates' joke. Montero was also conent to be batting cleanup after not playing on Thursday. The catcher has hit .348 over his past 15 games entering Friday. ... Justin Upton was called out at second base on a close sixth-inning play in Thursday night's win. Interim manager Kirk Gibson emerged from the dugout to argue: "I went out there and asked [crew chief umpire Joe West], and he said, 'Well, [Upton's foot] was right on top of [shortstop Hanley Ramirez's] foot. I said, 'Man are you ever wrong, and [West] said, 'You know I'm never wrong.' So whatever on that one." Gibson hasn't been ejected as skipper. A.J. Hinch was thrown out of a game twice this season. ... Gibson's two managerial victories are by margins of seven runs and six runs. On why, when his team wins, it wins big: "When we got a couple of runs, we were kind of a different team. The trick is to believe if you're not scoring that you're that same team. ... That's part of the mentality." ... On Friday night the D-backs announced the signing of their seventh-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, right-handed pitcher Jeff Shields, who will likely begin his career at Class A Missoula. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native went 12-1 with a 1.37 ERA in 13 games for Chattahoochee Valley Community College (Alabama) this past season and struck out 92 batters in 85 1/3 innings.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.