7/2/2013 8:13 P.M. ET
Towers ready to get down to Deadline business
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers has been battling a virus that has wreaked havoc with his vocal cords, but with the non-waiver July 31 Trade Deadline just over four weeks away, he doesn't have time to stop talking.
Towers will be looking to improve a team that has recently seen its lead in the National League West shrink thanks to a mediocre June.
"I think we're definitely going to be active with dialogue," Towers said. "But that doesn't mean we're going to pull the trigger on anything."
The D-backs will be looking to bolster their starting rotation and bullpen, and they could also look to add a piece for the bench.
If Towers is going to part with one of his top pitching prospects -- and it's worth noting that the teams that have asked about Archie Bradley, their No. 2 prospect, have been told he's not going anywhere -- it's going to be for a No. 1 or 2 starter.
"It would need to be a significant upgrade from what we have," Towers said. "Controllable young pitching is valuable. We're not going to give up a lot for a back-end-of-the-rotation starter. We're not going to sacrifice the future."
The D-backs moved a young pitching prospect before the 2012 season when they dealt right-hander Jarrod Parker to the A's in a trade that brought Trevor Cahill to Arizona.
The team should get a boost when it gets a couple of key contributors -- outfielder Adam Eaton and pitcher Brandon McCarthy -- back from the disabled list.
And those prospects like left-handers Tyler Skaggs and David Holmberg, whom other teams continue to inquire about in trade discussions, could instead be used by the D-backs to help boost their rotation and/or bullpen later this year.
"I still think we have a lot of confidence in the players we have in our system," Towers said. "We're going to be getting guys back. A lot can still change over the next three weeks."
Until Putz is sharp, Bell reinstalled as closer
NEW YORK -- Heath Bell is back in the closer's role for the D-backs.
After watching J.J. Putz blow his first save opportunity since he was activated from the 15-day disabled list in Monday night's 5-4, 13-inning loss to the Mets, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson decided to make the change Tuesday.
"Since he's been back, the ball hasn't come out of his hand the way it can," Gibson said. "Just not only with his fastball, but with his split, he just doesn't have the arm speed right now. We're going to use him in different type of situations and try to get his arm strength up. Maybe his arm is a little dead right now."
Putz was on the DL from May 8 until this past Saturday with a strained right elbow.
While both Putz and Gibson say the right-handed reliever is healthy, Putz is not at the top of his game, and so for now, Bell will get most of the save opportunities.
"I think it's just a matter of allowing me to get more innings without the game on the line," Putz said. "I think it's a good idea. I don't think it's fair to the rest of the guys to be out there with the game on the line when you're not feeling 100 percent and not be able to execute your pitches the way you want to. Hopefully after a week or so of this, things will build up."
With the D-backs' bullpen reeling these days -- overall the 'pen is 22 out of 38 save chances, with its 16 blown saves tying them for the Major League lead with the Dodgers, Cubs and Orioles -- the roles will be a little fluid.
Gibson said Tuesday that it's possible with Putz pitching in lower-leverage situations and usual eighth-inning reliever David Hernandez struggling, that he might use long man Josh Collmenter more later in games.
Day after rough miss catch, Parra gets day off
NEW YORK -- With his body bruised and face bleeding and having ingested part of the Citi Field warning track on Monday, D-backs right fielder Gerardo Parra began arguing with manager Kirk Gibson.
Parra had just missed making a spectacular grab of an Omar Quintanilla fly ball, face-planting on the warning track in the eighth inning.
Concerned about his outfielder, Gibson told Parra he was taking him out of the game.
"I said, 'No I'm good, I'm good,'" said Parra, who estimates Gibson told him 10 times he was going to take him out.
"The last one I said all right."
Parra returned to his hotel room following the D-backs' 5-4, 13-inning loss and was so uncomfortable that he could not sleep. Once he arrived at the ballpark Tuesday, Parra was laying on the training table getting work done when Gibson walked in and asked head athletic trainer Ken Crenshaw if today would be a good day to keep Parra out of the lineup.
More than what Crenshaw said, it was what Parra didn't say that cinched the deal.
"He was laying there and he didn't say anything, so that told me," Gibson said.
Gibson left Parra out of the starting lineup Tuesday for the first time since April 30. Parra, you see, does not like days off and has talked Gibson out of giving him one numerous times since the last one.
"I don't like a day off," he said. "I don't like anything like that. But just today, maybe because I don't feel I'm at 100 percent."
Parra has been slumping at the plate of late, and it was suggested that maybe a day off might help snap him out of his offensive woes.
"I know the last five days I don't feel good at home plate, but I don't like taking a day off because I'm not hitting," Parra said. "I just want to continue to play every day. I feel good when I play every day. If I'm not hitting good, I go and play defense hard. The point is, play every day."
And one more thing. Don't try and tell him that was a great play.
"I don't like it, because I didn't catch the ball," he said. "Next time, I got it, for sure."
Montero explains his bat licking Monday
NEW YORK -- The Mets' broadcast on Monday caught D-backs catcher Miguel Montero doing something that looked very strange.
Montero appeared to be trying to decide between two bats by licking the barrel of each. Once the video was picked up by deadspin.com, it went viral, and Montero was inundated on Twitter with questions about why he was licking his bats.
Like most players, Montero likes bats that have the grain that sticks out a little bit rather than feel completely smooth.
"If you hit it right, you've got a better chance to get a better spin on the ball," Montero said of a bat with the grain sticking up.
So why didn't he just feel the grain with his hands?
"I had my batting gloves on, and with the batting gloves on, I couldn't really feel the grain of the bat," Montero said. "It takes a lot of work to take my batting gloves off after I hit, because I put so much sticky stuff on my batting gloves."
So in order to pick out a new bat and get up to the plate quickly, Montero used his mouth to feel the difference in the grain.
"I actually wasn't licking it," he said. "It was more my teeth, so kind of feeling the [grain]."
Owings makes US Futures Game squad
NEW YORK -- Many were surprised when D-backs shortstop prospect Chris Owings was not named to participate in the 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
As it turns out, Owings will be there after all.
Owings was added to the U.S. Team on Tuesday to replace Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, who made his Major League debut Friday.
The 15th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game takes place at 11 a.m. MST on All-Star Sunday, July 14, at Citi Field in New York and can be seen live on MLB.com, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send/receive tweets to/from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Owings, who is ranked No. 99 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list, is hitting .353 with seven homers for Triple-A Reno.
Tuesday was a big day for Owings, who also found out he was elected to represent the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game on July 17 and was also named the D-backs' organizational Player of the Month.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.