7/21/2014 10:24 P.M. ET
Former D-back Scherzer returns to Chase Field
By Steve Gilbert and Adam Lichtenstein / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Brad Ausmus was at Max Scherzer's Major League debut -- in the opposing dugout.
When Scherzer made his first appearance for the D-backs on April 29, 2008, Ausmus was on the Astros' bench.
"He came in in relief and dominated," Ausmus said. "I wasn't playing that day, luckily for him."
Scherzer made the Astros look foolish that day. In 4 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, he didn't give up a hit and struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced.
"I remember seeing Max his first appearance thinking, 'This guy's got an explosive fastball,' which is easy to recognize," Ausmus said. "Obviously, his fastball is a swing-and-miss fastball, which is … actually a commodity at the Major League level. You don't see a lot of swing-and-miss fastballs.
"Most Major League hitters get in a 2-0 count and they know a fastball's coming, they're going to get some portion of the bat to the fastball, generally speaking. Max is one of those few pitchers who, in fastball counts, can throw a fastball and still throw it by people."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was the bench coach for Arizona when Scherzer made his debut, and he recognized the pitcher's potential early on as well.
"He's always had an electric arm and he still has an extra gear on his fastball, but his secondary stuff is so, so much better and he knows how to use it," Gibson said. "He's got a great career ahead of him. I hated to lose him."
Scherzer has played the D-backs before, pitching seven innings of one-run ball against them in Detroit on June 20, 2010. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Scherzer won't face his former team while the Tigers are in Arizona, but he's still had some new experiences at his old home ballpark.
"It's strange coming into the park and coming into this side of the clubhouse. Never done that before," he said. "It's fun to be back."
Although he hasn't played for the D-backs since 2009, Scherzer still has a house in Phoenix -- an added bonus to playing the D-backs on the road.
"I get to sleep in my own bed," Scherzer said. "First time during the season I've ever had that opportunity."
Despite being traded in the three-team deal that sent Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to Arizona, Scherzer doesn't hold any grudges toward the D-backs. Since he was dealt to the Tigers, he has blossomed from a prospect into a bona fide Major League ace.
"I don't have that mentality at all," Scherzer said. "I'm so happy to be in Detroit, I don't look back and have regrets or anything. I enjoyed my time in Arizona. They treated me right; they treated me well. … And obviously, business is business. I got traded to Detroit, and I've absolutely loved it here."
In-demand Ziegler keeps tabs on trade talks
PHOENIX -- Some players try to tune out trade rumors that involve them, but D-backs reliever Brad Ziegler takes a different approach.
Ziegler is active on Twitter for his Pastime for Patriots charity and the like, keeping him abreast on the latest rumors.
"I don't want to be blindsided," Ziegler said. "I would rather have an idea if I'm going to go somewhere so I can start exploring what that would be like in my head, talking with my wife about it, figure out the logistics of moving, what we would do. I would rather have all that planned and then if it ends up not happening, we can go back into relax mode."
Ziegler is an attractive trade chip given how durable and consistent he's been over his career, but the D-backs are hesitant to deal him for that very reason.
In a Majors-leading 51 appearances entering Monday night, Ziegler had a 2.50 ERA and he is under contract for $5 million next year with a club option at $5.5 million in 2016.
"My preference is to stay, for sure," Ziegler said. "We got a little taste of the playoffs in 2011 and I want to be with this team when we get back. Obviously this year hasn't worked out and you could say the last three years haven't worked out how we wanted, but there's no question the talent is here and with just a few tweaks here and there we can be back in there and once we get back there anything can happen. We don't have to be the favorite going into the playoffs, we just got to get there and then hit a good streak."
Gibson maintains rooting interest in Tigers
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson still considers himself a Detroit Tigers fan.
Except, of course, for this week when his team plays host to them.
Gibson, a Michigan native, was drafted by the Tigers and played for them from 1979-1987 and from 1993-95. He served as the team's bench coach from 2003-05.
"I follow the Tigers because I was a Tiger fan growing up as a young boy, [I] still have season tickets there since about 1980," Gibson said. "When we're not in the playoffs and they are, I go to the games. I follow all [manager Brad Ausmus'] stuff on a daily basis so I'm pretty familiar with the way it goes. At the same time, I'd like to beat their butt just like we wanted to beat the Cubs [Sunday]."
Gibson helped the Tigers win the 1984 World Series and is still one of the organization's most popular former players.
"They've been great," Gibson said of the Tigers. "They've treated me great and they've been generous to me. I know Dave [Dombrowski] is an excellent president and GM. I tend to pull for them except today, tomorrow and the next day."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.