D-backs return home after gaining clarity, losing ace Zack Greinke
PHOENIX — Archie Bradley demonstrated what Zack Greinke’s posture was like when the bearded pitcher hugged the Diamondbacks ace on Wednesday, the day Greinke was traded to the Astros: Greinke, who is known for his unusual social habits and stoic behavior, had his arms and hands at his sides as Bradley embraced him against his will.
Whether Greinke would ever corroborate Bradley’s depiction of the goodbye is uncertain (manager Torey Lovullo said with a hint of surprise that Greinke gave his manager a two-armed hug when they parted ways), but it was clear on Friday before the start of a homestand at Chase Field that in spite of his odd mannerisms and blunt honesty, D-backs players and coaches enjoyed the enigmatic Greinke.
“With everything he brought here, obviously the baseball stuff is great, but we all really enjoyed Zack,” Bradley said. “We loved him. I really did. I got along with him awesome. We had a lot of good times together and I wish him and [his wife] Emily all the best.”
Even pitcher Patrick Corbin — a former Diamondbacks lefty who happened to be in town with the visiting Nationals — could remember his time with Greinke fondly, without the recent goodbye adding to any emotion.
“I really enjoyed him as a teammate,” he said. “I know maybe he’s not the most outspoken person and kind of keeps to himself a little bit. But when you really get to know him, you can learn so much. I was grateful to be able to play with him, probably soon-to-be Hall of Famer at some point. I learned so much from him, he’s a good friend.”
Lovullo confirmed that in spite of the fact that Greinke was traded while the Diamondbacks were playing a series finale at Yankee Stadium (a game Greinke started), he remained with the D-backs and flew home with them on the plane.
“He was a great teammate,” Lovullo said. “He was a great example of what we want an Arizona Diamondback to be within the walls of our clubhouse. He prepared, he’d go out and compete, he would celebrate with the guys, he would hurt with the guys.”
A good pitcher, a well-liked person and also a solid hitter, Greinke goes to the American League where he’ll be replaced in the batting order by a designated hitter.
“He said, ‘I can’t believe you guys traded me to an American League team, because I have a 1 WAR, a 1 offensive WAR,'” Lovullo said. “Who knows that? He has a 1 offensive WAR. So he was a little bit bummed he’s not going to be able to swing the bat, but he’ll find a way, I’m sure. He’ll talk [Astros manager] A.J. [Hinch] into getting him an at bat.”
Moving forward without one of the best players in franchise history, the D-backs still have baseball to play. They entered Friday 3.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot in the National League, with four teams — Philadelphia, Washington, Milwaukee and San Francisco — in their way.
On the same day the D-backs lost their ace in Greinke, they added Mike Leake and Zac Gallen, two arms that give a once-thin starting rotation now six players to share the starts. Lovullo said the team will go with a six-man rotation for this next turn through the order, though GM Mike Hazen said he doesn’t expect that to remain for the long-term.
The additions of those pitchers, while simultaneously building for tomorrow, give the D-backs the answer that’s been on a lot of people’s mind for the last month: They were not all-out sellers, and the management still expects the team to compete in the standings.
As Bradley put it on social media, “No white flags.”
“We traded Zack, but … we kept this group together,” Bradley said. “We added another starter to take his place, we added another guy that’s going to help us out.
“I felt like they kept us together and they’re giving us a chance to go see what this team can do. I kind of feel like they said, ‘Hey guys, here you go. We kept you together. We made some moves to help the future, but we’re going to give you guys a chance to play it out and see what you can do.'”
The Diamondbacks are an imperfect baseball team. They have flaws, noticeable more at some times than at others, and are missing key pieces like Steven Souza Jr., Luke Weaver and Taijuan Walker. But, there was also plenty of talk on Friday about the team’s desire to compete, to see what the group is made of, and to see now if they can squeak into the playoffs even without Greinke.
It’s a tall order but one that begins after Hazen addressed the team privately in the clubhouse on Friday. After the players watched what Hazen did at the MLB trade deadline and then got an explanation in person, there’s clarity now about what the team is trying to do.
“With the moves, it shows that they’re ready now, they’re ready next year and they’re ready for a few years down the road,” Leake said.
— Right-handed starting pitcher Luke Weaver (right mild flexor pronator strain, UCL sprain) threw from 150 feet on Friday.
— Right-handed starting pitcher Taijuan Walker (Tommy John surgery) threw from 75 feet on Friday.
— Right-handed relief pitcher Matt Andriese (left foot contusion) tossed a third of an inning in the Arizona league on Thursday night.
— Utility man Blake Swihart (right oblique strain) is “progressing well.”