Interleague to intergalactic: Space-themed D-backs head to Houston
PHOENIX — Frank Sinatra played from a speaker as players filed into the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse Tuesday morning. It was fitting that “Fly Me to the Moon” eventually played, followed later by Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.”
Several D-backs donned spacesuits, astronaut gear and NASA t-shirts.
The team heads to Houston to face the Astros, and the theme for the trip is outer space.
“I hope my suit gets here in time,” D-backs reliever David Hernandez said. “I put Archie [Bradley] in charge so we’ll see if it’s here in time.”
Rumor has it that the space theme was Bradley’s idea from the start.
“Archie Bradley and company all put together this idea and like I said from day one of our first dress-up, I enjoy these days,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “Our team has personality and this is when it shows up.”
It’s not the first time the D-backs have done a themed road trip this year. In April, the team went to Washington, D.C. in patriotic fashion.
Some of the guys also showed off their wacky personalities when, during a rain delay at Wrigley Field this month, the Cubs and D-backs bullpens’ antics were caught on camera.
“I watch those moments just like everybody else and enjoy them,” Lovullo said. “I knew that something special when I turned on The Today Show the next morning and Savannah [Guthrie] and Matt [Lauer] were talking about it.”
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But when the D-backs get to Houston this week, it will be all business. Houston has the second-most wins in baseball behind the Dodgers, and Arizona is in the hunt for a playoff spot at 66-53. Every win is crucial.
Arizona will look to get those wins against unfamiliar teams as they play two interleague games in Houston before visiting the AL Central’s Minnesota Twins.
“We don’t have a tremendous feel for the Houston Astros,” Lovullo said. “We watch as much as we can, we pay attention to as much as we can.”
He said the D-backs catchers, along with Monday night’s starting pitcher, Zack Greinke, will share information with the rest of Arizona’s pitching staff.
One member of that staff is David Hernandez, who was with the AL’s Los Angeles Angels before a July 31 trade to his former team in the desert this July.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an advantage either way,” Hernandez said. “There’s just a lot of video, a lot of scouting reports on them, on me. It’s kind of like a chess game. You’re trying to be one step ahead of what they’re trying to do. But it definitely helps having faced this guys, the Astros, and the Twins.”
–Ketel Marte hit lead off for the D-backs on Tuesday in the absence of Peralta, who has seen some work at the top of the order as of late. The shortstop went 2-for-5 and has now reached safely in 15 consecutive games, but Lovullo said it’s not something they’ll stay with when Peralta returns.
–Playing in an AL ballpark this week means Lovullo and the D-backs can employ a designated hitter. The skipper said the plan is the get Paul Goldschmidt “half a day off” and have him DH, and former Astro J.D. Martinez could see some time at DH as well.
–David Peralta was put on the paternity list on Monday as he and his wife Jordan welcomed baby Sofia to the world. Lovullo said Peralta is catching up on rest and will fly to Houston on Wednesday. He’ll likely be available to play in Thursday’s game, the final game of the series.
–Robbie Ray, on the DL since taking a line drive to the head, will start Thursday for Class-A Visalia. Lovullo said the goal is for him to throw five innings and 75 pitches, and the team hopes it will be Ray’s last bit of work before returning. On Monday, Arizona Sports’ Craig Grialou wrote more about Ray’s status.
First pitch for the first game of the road trip on Wednesday is at 5:10 p.m.