4/21/2013 4:50 P.M. ET
Travel schedule playing into D-backs' struggles
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- The red-hot Rockies had the D-backs staring at goose eggs inning after inning as they held Arizona scoreless for 8 2/3 innings Friday night and 7 1/3 innings Saturday night, taking the first two games of the three-game set. Starting pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa threw at least six scoreless innings each, the first time Rockies pitchers have accomplished the feat in back-to-back starts in nearly seven years.
But to hear Eric Chavez tell it, it wasn't the Rockies' pitchers keeping the D-backs down as much as their travel schedule, which had Arizona leaving New York after midnight following an extra-innings getaway night game on Thursday and landing in Denver shortly before dawn on Friday morning. Chavez came off the bench Saturday and put the D-backs on the board with a pinch-hit, two-run homer.
"We got in really late," Chavez said after Saturday's loss, referring to the early Friday morning arrival in Denver. "That scheduling thing -- I wish they would do something about that on travel days, because we were just flat. It took us seven or eight innings today to do something. I wish Major League Baseball would do something about that, because getting in at 5:30 is just not fair. I sound like a whiny baby, but it's the truth. We haven't been this flat all year. To me, if you want to put your finger on it, that's it."
The D-backs have more late getaway games coming up, including a late game in Los Angeles against the Dodgers on May 8, in St. Louis on June 6, and in Cincinnati on Aug. 21. Additionally, the D-backs host a number of late getaway games for visiting teams, including July 11 against the Dodgers and July 25 against the Cubs.
"It's part of it," Gibson said, though he downplayed using travel to explain his team's woes. "There's a lot of issues. Who really knows? It wasn't a great trip over here. We got out of there [New York] late, we got over here and I went to bed at 5. It's not ideal. But that's part of being a world champion is dealing with unideal situations. We'll come out of it."
Cody Ross, whose frustration over an 0-for-7 performance in the first two games of the series led to his ejection after a demonstrative bat flip when he was called out on strikes to end the seventh inning Saturday, agreed with Chavez about the impact of the late games on getaway day, when many teams schedule day games to accommodate travel plans.
"We definitely don't want to make excuses, and that's not an excuse, but it's definitely something we'll try to talk about in the next [Collective Bargaining] Agreement," Ross said. "It's not fun getting into a city at 4 or 5 in the morning and having to wake up and try to play a game at a high level. Every team does it, every year. Our energy isn't where it needs to be and we don't have the intensity and fire. We need to get that."
D-backs being cautious with Gregorius
DENVER -- Shortstop Didi Gregorius is off to a great start with the D-backs, going 4-for-8 in his first two games since starting the season on the disabled list, and hitting a home run on the first pitch he saw in a D-backs' uniform.
The 23-year-old Gregorius, the D-backs' No. 3 prospect, made his big league debut last September with the Reds, hitting .300 (6-for-20) in eight games before a December trade brought him to Arizona. He suffered a strained right elbow in Spring Training, and manager Kirk Gibson has been sensitive in how he's used him since activating him last Saturday. Both Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell after Gibson's Saturday ejection, chose not to use him off the bench with the game on the line.
"With Gregorius coming back like he did, we are somewhat cautious about [playing him] three consecutive days, at this point," Gibson said before Sunday's series finale with the Rockies. "He was available [Saturday night], but sometimes guys are available, but you try to stay away from them."
Gregorius was reinstated after Aaron Hill went on the disabled list with a broken left hand last Saturday and would probably still be completing his rehab in the Minors without Hill's injury.
"He's been throwing a ton, but he hasn't played a lot in the field," Gibson said. "He's back, yet at the same time, he's still at the very back end of his rehab. You don't want to just plug him in on an everyday basis, that wouldn't be smart. We're trying to avoid that type of situation."
No backseat managing from Gibson after ejection
DENVER -- Following his third career managerial ejection Saturday night, D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson left the game in the hands of bench coach Alan Trammell, preferring to steer clear of any backseat managing from the clubhouse or the tunnels.
"It's against the rules," Gibson said, smiling. "I try to follow the rules. If you've been a bad boy, you act like you've been a bad boy and serve your punishment.
"If I had a strong, strong, strong conviction on something, I'd try to get word there with two cups and a string running down," Gibson said, joking. "I think that's legal."
Through a 17-year playing career and two stints as a bench coach -- for Trammell in Detroit and A. J. Hinch in Arizona -- Gibson has seen plenty of examples of managers who tried to keep their hand in the game after being asked to leave.
"When I was a bench coach, it happened both ways," Gibson said. "But for me, I'm out of the game, I'm not out there, I'm not standing in the dugout, I'm not seeing guys' eyes. There's a lot more that goes into making decisions by your feel than a guy sitting in the tunnel or being up here [in the clubhouse] and running down there. I can tell you it's way different from where you sit or from where I was sitting last night than from where you're sitting out in the dugout trying to make decisions."
With Trammell and hitting coach Don Baylor both having successful managerial backgrounds to bring to the dugout in Gibson's access, Gibson has no hesitation about trusting his coaches. His own experience as a bench coach reinforced the point for him.
"I was involved in a situation where I was the bench coach, and the interim manager of that game [after the manager was ejected], where I was right on the situation," Gibson said. "I'd asked a couple questions of a couple people, just to get a reading of where I thought they were, and I was right on it. Then I got word [from the ejected manager] to do something different. I really felt strongly that this was the way to go. I obviously did what the guy wanted me to do, and it ended really bad, really quickly. That's kind of why I am the way I am. I'm not going to stand down there and peak around the corner."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.