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D-backs’ Mike Hazen: ‘No excuses’ for play falling short of expectations

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 14, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

The Arizona Diamondbacks have not played well to start 2020. There’s no way to sugarcoat that reality, to explain it away or pretend it’s not true.

Entering Wednesday, Arizona is dead last in MLB as a team in home runs (2), OPS (.539), second-worst in starter ERA (6.42), fourth-worst in team ERA (5.59), tied for sixth-worst in runs scored (29) and in last place in the NL West at 3-8.

During a season that was preceded by hype around new acquisitions (like starter Madison Bumgarner and outfielder Starling Marte) and one that requires a pedal-to-the-metal mentality in only 60 games, the results so far are as confusing as they are dire.

“This was not in the range of outcomes that, while possible, that we were expecting heading into the third week of the season,” GM Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday.

“But we are not hitting. We are not scoring runs. We are not executing at the level we need to execute. There’s nobody that’s happy with what’s happened. This is not the results from the team that we put on the field. And we have no excuses. We do not have one person that is injured. We have not been impacted by the virus. There are no excuses. We have played poorly.”

Jake Lamb is 1-for-18 (.056) on the season. Carson Kelly is 5-for-26 (.192). David Peralta is 8-for-37 (.216). Eduardo Escobar is 6-for-40 (.150). Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray and Luke Weaver all have ERAs north of 7.00. The sample sizes are all relatively small, but so too is the time left to correct the problem.

“What we attempted to accomplish this offseason is not playing out on the field,” Hazen said. “So standing by and waiting for it to happen in a shortened season, that dynamic is obviously one none of us have ever encountered before, but that’s not an excuse either. Because the other teams are playing under a 60-game dynamic, as well. So every time I hear 60 games is different than 162, what did the Rockies do different that was different than what we’re doing right now?”

One option manager Torey Lovullo has is to shake up the lineup and make personnel tweaks, but he’s done some of that already. In Tuesday night’s loss to the Astros, it was 8-1 Houston when Lovullo replaced hitters 1-5 in the lineup. Lamb, Tim Locastro, Stephen Vogt, Jon Jay and Andy Young came in for Ketel Marte, Starling Marte, Kole Calhoun, Christian Walker and Eduardo Escobar.

Lovullo said it was just about getting playing time for other players, not so much sending a message.

“I don’t send messages like that,” Lovullo told reporters after the game. “I’ll send messages directly face-to-face with guys and have those conversations. I just wanted to get some of our guys that have been going every day a little bit more rest, get them off of their feet. Definitely wasn’t the intent to send that type of message. I just wanted to maybe live to fight another day, let them watch some baseball, let the understudies get some at bats, some meaningful at bats.”

Hazen agreed it wasn’t a benching, per se.

“I don’t think it was a benching. I think it was, ‘We’re down 8-1 and we are in the midst of a 60-game season that we are playing guys pretty regularly.’ I think he genuinely wanted to get guys off their feet. If the manager is sending messages in various, subtle ways, I don’t have a problem with it. If we weren’t expected to win, if the expectation going into the season were different, I might have a different take. We might have different conversations around what we’re trying to accomplish. That’s not what our expectation was.”


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