Kevin Towers and Kirk Gibson wanted a clean slate.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were in need of a makeover after a disappointing 81-81 season in 2012. They traded away two-thirds of their starting outfield, including the one-time face of the franchise Justin Upton and assembled a more veteran, deeper and versatile roster to handle the grind of the 162-game season.
Two months into the 2013 campaign KT and Gibby’s off-season shuffling has passed the test as the D-backs find themselves perched atop the National League West and playing some of their best baseball of the season winning four of their last five entering Thursday’s game against the Rangers in Arlington.
“From our perspective we won a lot of close games at the end that I feel like the other team is walking away saying ‘dang, we should have won that game,’ reliever Brad Ziegler told Brad Cesmat in a recent interview on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “There’s been games where we walked away and said ‘there’s no way we should have lost that game.’ From our perspective we think we should be in even better shape.”
Pretty astonishing to think considering Arizona has been hampered by injuries to key contributors like Aaron Hill, Adam Eaton, Daniel Hudson, Cody Ross and others. What has even further complicated matters has been inconsistency at the back end of the bullpen, long considered one strength of the team. David Hernandez and Heath Bell have been inconsistent while closer J.J. Putz struggled before landing on the disabled list himself with a strained elbow.
“Considering…all the guys [we’ve] had on the DL it’s a pretty good testament,” Ziegler explained to Cesmat. “We’re deep and when he have guys who are hurt we have other guys who are completely capable of filling in for them and not miss a beat.”
“Grit” has been a word often attached to Gibson’s style and to this point of the season his team has embodied the term whether it be coming back from late-inning deficits or getting key contributions from young players like Didi Gregorius, AJ Pollack and undefeated lefty starter Patrick Corbin.
With that being said Zielger is quick to point out there’s still a whole summer of baseball left to be played.
For now so far, so good.