Updated Apr 23, 2012 - 7:57 am
Don't hit the panic button yet
With 146 games left on the schedule, it's not quite time to start panicking if you're an Arizona Diamondbacks fan.
Manager Kirk Gibson knows every season comes with its own ups and downs, and doesn't seem worried, even with the Diamondbacks being outscored 26 to 11 through a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
"We just weren't swinging the bats very well. It's a long season; you can't lose sight of that," Gibson said.
Ian Kennedy continued his hot start to the season Sunday, moving to 3-0 while avoiding a series sweep by the Braves. The win also snapped a five-game Diamondbacks losing streak, and moved Kennedy to 16-1 over his last 19 starts, dating back to last season.
Gibson admits that winning the last game of the series was important. "It makes you smile for sure," he said. "It's been awhile since we've shook hands after a game."
If you take into account that Chris Young and Daniel Hudson are on the disabled list, Justin Upton has been hampered by a lingering thumb injury all season, and Stephen Drew hasn't played a single inning; sitting with a .500 record isn't anything to complain about.
Upton has resumed his right field role two days in a row after missing several games due to injury, but has yet to find his stride at the plate. His zero home runs over 42 at-bats to start the season is a career long, though Upton plans to play through the injury from here on out as he cannot hurt it anymore than it already is.
While it may not seem like it, there are bright spots to the painful start the Diamondbacks have had. Craig Breslow, who came over from Oakland in the trade for Trevor Cahill, has gone 7 and 1/3 innings out of the bullpen without giving up an earned run, and has recorded 6 strikeouts. Through three starts Joe Saunders has looked impressive on the mound as well, pitching 21 innings and giving up only 3 earned runs.
As a team the Diamondbacks are 25th in the majors with a .225 batting average, with no starter from last season hitting above .250, aside from Young. Ryan Roberts, who hit .249 last season, has started off this season hitting just .173 in 52 at-bats.
These are stats that are bound to even out as the season goes on, especially for a roster filled with so many capable hitters.
It's safe to say the long ball has been the lone bright spot to the offense, with 17 home runs to start the season. Five of those, however, come from Young, who still has as many as the entire Chicago Cubs team combined.
Gibson has said time and time again that if Young was not placed on the DL by General Manager Kevin Towers, he would already have asked to be back in the lineup; a move that puts emphasis on management's confidence in the outfield depth.
He has also taken extremely slow steps in the rehabilitation of short stop Stephen Drew, who hasn't played a game since July 20, 2011 when he fractured his ankle sliding into home.
The 2011 NL Manager of the Year has shown confidence in his young players by allowing the bench to get plenty of playing time, and at the same time is preparing for a bit down the road.
Gibson is, conceivably, looking toward the end of the season when it would be more pertinent to have a healthy, well-rested roster. One that will be much more valuable come October, than it is in April.
Craig Grialou contributed to this report.
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- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com baseball writer - Monday March 3Jerry Crasnick previews the 2014 NL West.