More first inning difficulties for Diamondbacks right-hander Daniel Hudson, but this time, the result was not as disastrous as in the past.
Surrendering the one run early to San Diego May 17, Hudson then settled in a groove and proceeded to turn in his fifth straight “quality start.” In going seven strong innings, he picked up a 6-1 victory over San Diego May 17, and appeared to exorcise past demons.
After a first month of disaster, the 24 year-old native of Lynchburg, Va. seemed to flip a light switch. Through nine starts of the season, Hudson turned in seven “quality starts” and indicated there is little difference from the Daniel Hudson of May and the Daniel Hudson of April.
Hudson started the season by dropping his first four starts, but in four of those eight starts, prior to May 17, the Diamondbacks scored two or less runs in those games.
Not this time. The six runs against the Padres were the most the Diamondbacks scored since Hudson beat the Padres in San Diego 6-0, May 7. Yet, Hudson seems not the least bit concern over his luckless start.
“It’s all about confidence,” he said after beating the Padres May 17. “No, there was little concern because, like I’ve told (the media), things will even out. It’s a long season, and I’m not worried.”
The Diamondbacks broke a 1-1 tie when catcher Miguel Montero doubled in Justin Upton in the fourth, and added two, two run innings in the sixth and eighth. Montero triggered a previously dormant offense with a perfect 2-for-2 night, walk and hit by a pitch. He raised his batting to .268 after the Padres game May 17.
“I made some adjustments, and waited back on the ball,” he said. “I was able to put some good swings on the ball, and hopefully, it will stay that way.”
Yet, the night belonged to Hudson and his ability to adjust. Indicating San Diego is a first pitch, aggressive-hitting team, Hudson, by the second and third inning, threw less fast balls and more off-speed deliveries.
“I mixed it up more than the usual amount,” Hudson added. “They are so aggressive that I had to keep them off-balanced.”
Hudson has now won four of his last five starts, improved to 4-5, and lowered his season ERA to 4.03. In his last five starts, Hudson has allowed, in succession, three runs, three runs, no runs, three runs and one run.
FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS
Former manager Bob Melvin is back with the Diamondbacks organization.
Signed as a Special Advisor to team president Derrick Hall through the end of the present season, Melvin will assume a myriad of duties. These includes, but not limited to, assisting general manager Kevin Towers and field manager Kirk Gibson in baseball operations, filling in on broadcasts, involvement with pro and amateur scouting, and mentoring minor league managers.
Melvin initiated contact with the Diamondbacks when he called Luis Gonzalez during spring training. Directly, Melvin expressed a strong desire to return to the Diamondbacks organization, for whom he managed at the major league level from 2005 to 2009.
“(Gonzalez) came up to me in spring training and said (Melvin) would like to come back,” Hall explained in a media briefing prior to the D-backs game with San Diego May 17. “The bottom line is, we missed him and he missed us. This is someone who deserves to be here.”
Melvin is here only through the current season, and should managerial jobs open in the future, Hall made it clear the organization would not impede Melvin in any search or interview.
After he was fired by former general manager Josh Byrnes in the middle of the 2009 season, Melvin said he harbored a rather strong hostility toward the organization.
“It was a very difficult time for me,” Melvin said. “I couldn’t watch a Diamondbacks game. Let’s face it, any time you lose a job, you’re not the biggest supporter of those who let you go.”
A difficult relationship with Byrnes was just exacerbated, but Melvin apparently picked his time to reach out to the organization. This is when Towers came on board last September, and originally, Melvin brought Gibson into the organization as a coach.
The look and face of the Diamondbacks changed over the last year, and Melvin thought the time was proper to get back in touch with Hall, Gonzalez, Gibson and others with whom he build solid baseball relationships.
CONTINUING SAGA OF KELLY JOHNSON
After benched against the left-hander Clayton Richard May 16, Johnson was back in the lineup May 17 against right-hander Tim Stauffer. In his first 38 games, Johnson hit .184, and struck out 49 times in 147 times at bat. On May 17, he went 1-for-5, and struck out three times.
In contrast, Johnson was dependable with the bat a year ago when he hit .284, 36 doubles, 26 home runs and knocked in 76 runs.
Johnson avoided arbitration when he agreed to a one year $5.85 million contract just before spring training.
“(Johnson) keeps working hard, and has a great attitude,” Gibson said prior to the May 17 game with the Padres. “In certain situations, he’s pressing, but he is also making progress. He has the determination to get back on track.”
MORE ALL-STAR STUFF
Gibson was named as one of the National League coaches by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will direct the NL, in the All-Star Game at Chase Field July 12. In addition to Gibson, Washington manager Jim Ruggleman was also selected as a coach.
“(Bochy) and I talked about this over the winter,” Gibson said. “This is a great honor. As a player, I declined two opportunities to go as a player, and my dad, before he died, said if I get another opportunity, just go.”
American League manager Ron Washington of Texas named managers Manny Acta of Cleveland and John Farrell of Toronto as AL coaches.