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April Setbacks

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Paul Goldschmidt has found his misplaced hitting prowess.
Despite The Loss Of Chris Young And Daniel Hudson (And The Struggles of Justin Upton’s Thumb) Kirk Gibson’s Club Is Still In The Hunt

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By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine

May 4, 2012 — Entering the 2012 season, many baseball experts thought the Diamondbacks were due a bit of bad luck. By way of either ineffectiveness or injury — or even a bit of both — these experts predicted that the Diamondbacks would not be able to repeat the success of 2011.

But what the “experts” failed to recognize is that a winning tradition in baseball is not as much about the ability to win, as it is about the will to win. And there might not be another person in baseball history who has a greater will to win than the current manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kirk Gibson.

As a result, when a seemingly devastating set of disasters struck the team in the first month of the season, the D-backs remained competitive in almost every game and are still competing for the division. Where other teams with potential have folded due to early season adversity (see 2008 Cleveland Indians, for example), the Diamondbacks have just kept plugging on.

The ability to not accept losing, but rather just find new ways to win is perhaps the biggest thing that Kirk Gibson brings to this clubhouse. After Tuesday's heartbreaker where closer J.J. Putz gave up a ninth inning home run, the answer Gibson gave reporters is precisely why this team has been able to keep it close while they heal up.

It's disappointing, but we'll regroup. These guys will be fine. We'll come out and play a good game tomorrow,” Gibson told reporters.

A major league baseball season is a marathon and even after Justin Upton’s thumb and a slow-start by Jason Kubel, the squad kept plugging along. When Ryan Roberts and Paul Goldschmidt began extended slumps, other guys stepped up — mainly Lyle Overbay and Cody Ransom.

But when Chris Young went down all of the experts predicting a decline probably raised a can of Rockstar to their computer monitors in a celebratory, “I told you so.” When Daniel Hudson went on the shelf with a sore shoulder a few days later, if someone listened hard enough, they could almost hear cyberspace laughing.

But the guys that were then going to play just went about their business and still expected to win. Kubel got hot again and is proving his worth. Gerardo Parra is the best “fourth outfielder” in recent memory, and over the past three games, Paul Goldschmidt has been on fire.

Oh, yea and a kid by the name of Wade Miley somewhat quietly won rookie of the month honors for this 3-0 start with a sterling 1.26 ERA and Joe Saunders had a 0.90 ERA in April.

For these reasons and more, you have got to like their chances if and when they are able to use healthy versions of Chris Young, Stephen Drew, Takashi Saito and Daniel Hudson. By no means has this team been dominant and they may have lost some of their touch in winning close games early in this season. They are 3-9 in one-run games so far in 2012.

But while they may have lost those games, through all they have gone through in 2012, the Diamondbacks have still not lost their will to win.

* * *
DEPTH, D-BACKS AND APRIL RAIN

The D-backs came out storming to begin the season,

Defeating the Giants in a sweep was the reason.

But after a trip where they took a series from San Diego,

Injuries, slumps and bad luck led to fans with lumbago.

Down went Upton, then Young, then Hudson,

It seemed like the injured would total a dozen.

But thanks to surprises from youngsters Corbin and Miley

The squad proved they are determined, willful and wily.

First Kubel broke out, then Goldschmidt did too.

Where would the team be without those two?

Take heart fans, this team is deep, and in contention they remain.

No need for prose akin to Spahn, Sain and praying for rain.

For in the desert, not even prayers can bring a downpour,

And if a team is deep, they can overcome an injury, or four.

A hearty hurrah to a team that has entered May,

With a lot of meaningful games to play.


Bob Goodwood lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Reach him directly at bob.goodwood@yahoo.com.

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