PHOENIX — Even when the pitching went south and the hitting slumped, the Arizona Diamondbacks could always rely on their defense.
Well, their defense has deserted them at times this season, adding yet another item to an ever-growing list of issues through the first month.
“The most concerning thing for me is probably the defense,” general manager Kevin Towers said on Tuesday.
“We’ve always taken great pride in that.”
Since he and manager Kirk Gibson arrived in 2011, the Diamondbacks have been one of the more solid defensive teams each season; and last season they were honored with the Wilson Defensive Team of the Year Award.
It’s been a different story in 2014.
With two more errors in Monday’s 8-5 series-opening loss to the Colorado Rockies, Diamondbacks lead all of Major League Baseball with 27.
“It hasn’t been good,” Gibson said. “The way our defense has gone, it’s not like coming to us real good right now so we want to try to be a little more basic…just kind of wait until the game comes to us a little more naturally.
“It’s uncharacteristic, but it is characteristic of a team that’s struggling.”
Martin Prado has been the biggest culprit with a team-high six errors. Miguel Montero and Chris Owings each have four, while Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning National League Gold Glove first baseman, has three.
Towers believes many of his team’s fielding mistakes are mental mistakes.
“And a lot of those, I think, are just guys that are taking their offensive struggles maybe out to the field,” he said. “That’s hard. Guys care and they got pride. It’s hard to separate those things sometimes.”
It’s why Towers thinks once the hitting improves so too will the defense. But right now, given the team’s overall struggles, everyone is feeling the pressure to make a play.
“Probably that has a lot to do with our base running too at times,” he said.
“Maybe trying to do too much to try to apply some pressure out there to try to manufacture runs and make things happen versus just trying to relax and go out there and play your game and play defense and make the routine plays and not try to do too much.”