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Defense and pitching costing Diamondbacks

At the beginning of Cactus League play Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson laid out in simple terms the most important factors in whether his team will succeed or fail this season.

“Our team is going to have to pitch and defend,” Gibson said. “That’s going to be our key.”

With only 10 days left in the exhibition season it seems as if his club has a long way to go to before accomplishing that.

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers the D-backs had given up the most home runs, earned runs and runs allowed of any Major League team this spring. They also had committed the third most errors and had the third highest ERA.

That trend continued in Surprise Wednesday afternoon.

Pitcher Daniel Hudson, who is slated to be the team’s number two starter, gave up seven runs in the bottom of the third inning. Thanks to a throwing error by Hudson himself on a sacrifice bunt and one by left fielder Gerardo Parra, only one run was earned. The sequence seemed like a microcosm of the spring. The errors forced Hudson to complete only 2.2 innings while throwing 69 pitches, making for his third shortest outing of the spring. The D-backs would add a third fielding error in the sixth, but that one didn’t cost them a run.

The defensive lapses and poor pitching performances have gone a long way to the earning Arizona the most losses and worst winning percentage of the spring. Although things seem dismal, all the D-backs had to do was look
across the diamond for hope Wednesday.

Last season the Rangers finished their 2010 spring training schedule with the worst record in the entire Cactus League. Despite the rough month of March, Texas didn’t finish their season until late October in the World Series.

It’s a prime example of the fact that spring training baseball has little to no real bearing on the regular season. What will have an effect is if the sloppy
defense and erratic pitching continues into April and May.