07/19/11 12:53 AM ET
D-backs' pitchers showing prowess at plate
Hudson at head of staff that leads league in home runs, RBIs
By Anthony Fenech / MLB.com
The D-backs' starting pitchers have a National League-leading four home runs and 19 RBIs, as well as the second-highest batting average in the Senior Circuit.
"It keeps things fun," Daniel Hudson said about a monthly hitting competition between Arizona starters, with dinner on the line.
"It's a friendly competition," he said, before noting that he's never lost.
Each month, the group picks a different category -- hits, sacrifice bunts, on-base percentage -- with the loser buying dinner.
"It keeps things light," Hudson said.
Hudson is hitting .359 with a home run and 12 RBIs this season, anchoring the staff. Not to be forgotten is bullpen teammate Micah Owings, who sports a career .288 average.
"It's been awesome watching him swing it the way he has," Owings said. "It brings back a couple of memories of back when I did it a little bit. My hat's off to him."
Owings credits his offensive success to getting a chance early in his career to swing the bat in the NL, and says that being able to hit is an added plus to any team.
"We've got some starters and guys in the 'pen that can swing it, so it's always nice to give [manager Kirk Gibson] some options," Owings said.
The D-backs' 29 hits and .176 pitchers' average -- entering Monday's action -- both place second in the NL to the Brewers, whose staff has 33 hits with a .193 average.
Upton trying to crack season-worst slump
PHOENIX -- Monday was "No Media Day," Justin Upton said with a smile.
And he wasn't kidding.
The D-backs right fielder wasn't in a talking mood before a hitter's meeting prior to the start of a four-game series with the Brewers. The Dodgers held Upton hitless in 11 at-bats over the weekend.
"He was on fire," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. "Not many guys do that all year long, but he's still very dangerous."
On July 5, Upton hit a solo home run off Monday's starter, Randy Wolf, in a 7-3 victory over Milwaukee. He scored three runs in that series and has five career home runs against the Brewers.
But his batting average has dropped 25 points after it hit a season-high .306 on June 27, and the five-game stretch without a hit -- he finished Monday's 3-0 win in an 0-for-18 dip -- is his longest all season.
Still, Gibson has no worries about the two-time All-Star, who is hitting .281 on the season with 15 home runs, 46 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
"Hitting, it comes and it goes," Gibson said. "The thing about our team, I don't think we rely on one guy. It seems there can always be somebody in our lineup that can do damage.
"That's kind of the way we're constructed."
Putz throws smooth inning; Drew sits out
PHOENIX -- D-backs reliever J.J. Putz threw a successful inning Sunday night in extended spring training.
When asked about it, Putz gave a thumbs-up, indicating everything went smooth.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson and pitching coach Charles Nagy were in attendance. Gibson said he expected Putz to throw again on Tuesday.
"He'd like to be activated probably, but I'd like to be more convinced that we're doing the right thing," he said. "I want to see him bounce back on Tuesday for sure."
Shortstop Stephen Drew wasn't in the lineup Monday night against Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf.
"He's not in the lineup, but he might win the game," Gibson said.
Drew hasn't had a multi-hit game since June 23 and is hitting .254 on the season.
"He hasn't been swinging the bat as well as he has in the past," Gibson said. "But he's out there right now, as we speak, working on it. That's what they do."
D-backs' family day a big hit with players
PHOENIX -- "Little X" just wanted to run the bases.
"We ran around once," D-backs first baseman Xavier Nady said of his son, Xavier. "And he was wiped out."
The D-backs held a family day gathering in right field for the players and their children after Sunday's win over the Dodgers.
"It was cool," Nady said. "When you have a chance to let the kids run around and be around other kids, it's always a good time."
Everyone took a family picture, some -- like "Little X," as the D-backs call him -- ran the bases, others took batting practice in the outfield and some were too small to venture on their own.
"I like family day, because I get to spend time with my kids on the field and take a good picture," said D-backs catcher Miguel Montero.
Montero's son, Angel, was stuck in his dad's arms during the get-together, just like during the All-Star Game media availability, when he poked at microphones.
Starting pitcher Joe Saunders was there with his two daughters, Mattea and Avellina.
"It gives us a chance to take some pictures and gives them a chance to have a smile on their face," Saunders said. "It's a lot of fun for them and it makes us smile too, which is nice."
Anthony Fenech is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.