Spotlighting the Arizona Diamondbacks

Scouting the opposing team is always an essential part of MLB coverage. Inside is a look at news, notes and quotes on the Cubs' opponent this week, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

When it was over and the longest hitting streak in the majors had ended, the Diamondbacks waited appreciatively at the bottom of the dugout steps to congratulate Danny Bautista for his efforts.

Though he flied out to center field in his final at-bat Saturday night (May 1), the reception given to Arizona's right fielder was "the same as somebody hitting a home run," manager Bob Brenly said.

Several Diamondbacks players were especially impressed by the way the 21-game streak ended, with Bautista lifting two sacrifice flies to score two runs during Arizona's 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 0 for 3 on the night, with two groundouts and the flyout to center in the ninth.

"Those were two excellent at-bats to get those sac flies. I've seen guys that wouldn't have done that," Brenly said. "Everybody was pulling like crazy for him to get the knock (in the ninth). ... But he gave up a couple at-bats to drive in runs with those sac flies when he could have tried to work deeper in the count and get a ball to drive.

"I think two sac flies ought to count as a hit."

The selflessness wasn't lost on starting pitcher Randy Johnson, who made sure to mention Bautista's name on a handful of occasions. Of the two run-scoring sacrifice flies to right field, Johnson said, "Those were two pretty big runs for us by Danny."

Bautista, who decided several days ago to not comment directly about the streak, was all smiles in the Diamondbacks' clubhouse before Sunday's series finale at Citizens Bank Park. Part of it was because the streak was over and the pressure was off. Another reason is that so many incoming calls from family members and friends put him in great spirits.

"I got a lot of them, probably eight or nine different calls," said Bautista, who went 0 for 3 on Opening Day and then went 32 for 82 (.390) over the next 21 games. "It was nice to hear so many familiar voices. They all said nice things, told me I did a good job and should be happy and the biggest thing, to just stay healthy."

That's been the key to everything, Bautista said. A diving attempt to catch a sinking line drive by San Francisco's Benito Santiago on May 22, 2002 ended Bautista's season almost as fast as it began. He suffered a dislocated left shoulder and needed surgery to repair a torn labrum.

At the time, he was hitting .325 and had hit safely in 24 of his first 27 games. Several times during this season's streak, Brenly remarked how similar Bautista was looking at the plate at this time two years ago.

"I feel the same way, only better," said Bautista, who also missed a month last season with a hamstring injury. "I lost some weight, about eight to nine pounds, and I've worked real hard with my hitting coach (Rick Schu). I just thank the Lord and I'm happy to have shed all the injuries behind me."

Now that the pressure is off, Brenly was asked if he thought Bautista might even start hitting better than he has been.

"I don't see why not," he said. "His approach at the plate is really good. He's got great balance, he's not jumping out on pitches. His ability to hit the ball to all field is really working in his favor right now. He's driving balls to the opposite field, he's pulling them when he should.

"I don't think Danny feels the pressure. He just seems like he's locked up in there at the plate right now."

Bautista started another streak on Sunday. A day after his 21-game streak came to an end, he went 2 for 4 and drove in two runs.


--Manager Bob Brenly, who had continually backed his struggling closer, Matt Mantei, finally said he and his staff will sit down with Mantei and discuss possible changes after Mantei allowed his fifth ninth-inning home run in nine appearances.

"We'll talk about it on the flight (to Chicago)," Brenly said Sunday after Mantei blew a 4-2 lead by allowing a pinch-hit homer to Philadelphia Pat Burrell with two outs in the ninth of a game Arizona would eventually lose in 14 innings. "We'll get with Matty on the plane and we'll talk about it."

Mantei is at a loss for words.

"My location has been horse (expletive), I've been horse (expletive). What can I do?" he said.

--The Diamondbacks were seething about a close play at first base when Matt Kata appeared to have turned a double play to get out a jam against the Phillies, but first base umpire Tony Randazzo called Placido Polanco safe -- even though replays showed he was a half-step late.

The Phillies followed with back-to-back homers by Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome to eventually sink Arizona.

"I know he's trying to bear down and make the best call he can as he sees it," manager Bob Brenly said of Randazzo, "but this is one particular instance where a missed call cost us the ballgame. ... It's a damn shame. The replays showed the runner was out at first base and we're out of the inning. They end up scoring four runs and they shouldn't even have had those hitters at the plate in that inning."

--LHP Randy Johnson improved his career record against the Chicago Cubs to 12-0 and in his next start improved to 8-1 lifetime against the Phillies.

--2B Roberto Alomar, who had surgery to repair a fractured fifth metacarpal on his right hand, was moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11.88 -- Closer Matt Mantei's ERA in nine appearances.

3.68 -- The ERA of reliever Jose Valverde, who likely will replace Mantei as the closer, at least temporarily.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The crowd's a little different. They've had a few more hours to get into the Old Styles (beer). They're a little bit more rowdy." -- Manager Bob Brenly on the difference in playing night games vs. day games at Wrigley Field.


1B Richie Sexson was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder injury, including a partial torn labrum, but hoped to be able to return in two weeks. It could be four to six weeks, however. 2B Roberto Alomar (broken bone in right hand) was moved to the 60-day DL. The contract of OF Doug DaVore was purchased by the D-backs, and he was recalled from Triple-A Tucson.

PITCHING TRENDS: The starting rotation has been holding its own, but the biggest question now is in the bullpen, specifically the closer's role. Matt Mantei has imploded one too many times, allowing a series of ninth-inning homers, and manager Bob Brenly was seriously considering making a change.


--RHP Matt Mantei keeps serving up fastball right over the middle of the plate, and he's getting killed. If he doesn't start spotting his fastballs more frequently, he won't be getting many save opportunities.

--RHP Jose Valverde recorded nine saves in nine save opportunities last season when Matt Mantei was on the shelf. Don't be surprised if manager Bob Brenly decides to let Mantei sit and think about his recent woes and give the ball to Valverde at crunch time.

--RHP Casey Daigle has made two strong starts in a row and the coaching staff believes they are finally seeing the young prospect pitch the way he is capable of pitching, as he did during spring training. If he falters, LHP Casey Fossum is a phone call away in AAA Tucson, pitching on a rehab assignment while on the DL. He's close.

LINEUP LOWDOWN: Rather than make multiple changes to replace injured first baseman Richie Sexson, out at least two weeks and possibly longer with a left shoulder injury, the Diamondbacks decided to keep everyone virtually in place and insert Shea Hillenbrand into Sexson's spot on the field and in the lineup, where he is hitting fourth.


--RF Danny Bautista went 3 for 6 the day after his 21-game hitting streak came to an end. Without the pressure of the streak, Bautista should remain locked in at the plate, where he was tearing it up with a .372 average in the No. 6 hole.

--1B Shea Hillenbrand raised his average to .224 after making his first two starts for Richie Sexson at first. Pitchers are going to walk No. 3 hitter Luis Gonzalez, however, to get to Hillenbrand, and he has to make contact and drive in runs.

--CF Steve Finley emerged from his annual April funk and hit five home runs during a four-game stretch while raising his batting average to .235 after 24 games.

MEDICAL WATCH: 1B Richie Sexson (partial torn left labrum, bruised humeral head and subluxation) is out at least two weeks and could miss up to six weeks. 2B Roberto Alomar (fractured fifth metacarpal in right hand) had a plate and screws inserted during surgery and was moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Northsiders Report Top Stories