The Arizona Diamondbacks finalized their eight-man bullpen Tuesday, electing to retain Yusmeiro Petit, Juan Gutierrez, Billy Buckner, and Doug Slaten on their 25-man roster. Bobby Korecky and Leo Rosales were optioned to Triple-A.
The placement of Max Scherzer on the 15-day DL to begin the season opened the
door for an extra bullpen arm in the early going. The Diamondbacks will go
with a four-man rotation until April 14th, when Scherzer will be recalled from
the disabled list and the club will need to make a decision on one of these four
- Supposedly, Chad Qualls
, Tony Pena
, Jon Rauch
, and Scott Schoeneweis
were the only relievers guaranteed a spot on the opening day
bullpen, but Yusmeiro Petit was all-but guaranteed to make the club as well.
Petit has been solid in the swingman role for the Diamondbacks for each of the
past two seasons and was out of minor league options, meaning that he would have
needed to clear waivers prior to reporting to Triple-A.
Unable to boast spectacular stuff, Petit uses deceptive arm action to fool
batters and has excellent command of his pitches. He has posted a 4.09 ERA in 11
- Like Petit, Gutierrez was also out of minor league options.
Unlike Petit, Gutierrez has no history of major league success and did nothing
this spring to indicate his major league readiness. His 8.71 ERA was
highest among all
Diamondbacks pitchers who had thrown more than eight innings this spring.
The reason the D-backs want to keep him in the cupboard is his lively low-90s
fastball that has sometimes been clocked as high as 95 MPH. They figure that if Gutierrez can improve one or two of his three secondary pitches, that
he could become an impact player at the major league level. But the price
of that willbe a 2009 season full of licks at the big league level.
- Expected to break camp as the second lefty out of the pen due
in part to the huge role he played on the 2007 playoff-bound squad, Slaten was
hit hard early this spring. Then D-backs pitching coach Bryan Price
lowered Slaten's arm angle from an over-the-top delivery to a more traditional
three-quarters slot. Since that adjustment, he's lowered his spring ERA to a
respectable 5.19, although his peripherals (4K, 4 BB, 13 H, 8.2 IP) still look
"Slaten pitched really well, especially down the stretch," insisted
Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin.
- Buckner didn't figure to have a good shot at making the
roster based primarily on the fact that he still has a minor league option.
Also, the D-backs wanted Slaten to compliment Schoeneweis as a lefty
specialist and already had Petit as a potential spot starter. It was
Buckner's excellent spring, combined with the team's decision to put Scherzer on
the DL, that landed Buckner the roster spot. He owns a 3.31 ERA in 16.1
innings this spring, but will have to impress even more than that if he wants to
avoid being sent down to Reno come April 14th. Buckner's off-the-table
curveball is his bread-and-butter pitch.
"I've seen a guy that has good stuff and isn't afraid to compete,"
Melvin said of Buckner.
Bobby Korecky - Korecky wasn't particularly effective for the Twins last
year, and it was hard to understand why the Arizona Diamondbacks were so high on
him in February. The 29-year-old's 6.35 ERA this spring did little to
reinforce the D-backs' stance, although he did convert his lone save opportunity
and average more than one strikeout per inning. He could begin the season
as Reno's closer, having held that role in several stops around the minor
- Rosales figured to be plan B if Doug Slaten could not get his
act together. While Rosales doesn't throw left-handed, his excellent
changeup fades away from left-handed hitters, and would have given the D-backs
an additional weapon to combat tough lefty hitters to go with Schoeneweis.
Rosales did nothing to pitch himself out of a job this spring, as he fanned
nine, walked two, and converted his only two save opportunities en route to a
3.86 ERA. Rosales has a history of emotional instability, as his punching
a wall and fracturing his throwing hand is part of the reason the San Diego
Padres were willing to trade him to Arizona. Hopefully, he takes this
undeserved slap to the face in stride.
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