Don’t hit the panic button yet

Apr 23, 2012, 2:19 AM | Updated: 2:56 pm

With 146 games left on the schedule, it’s not quite
time to start
panicking if you’re an Arizona Diamondbacks fan.

Manager Kirk Gibson knows every season comes with its own
ups
and downs, and doesn’t seem worried, even with the
Diamondbacks
being outscored 26 to 11 through a four-game series with
the
Atlanta Braves.

“We just weren’t swinging the bats very well. It’s a long
season; you
can’t lose sight of that,” Gibson said.

Ian Kennedy continued his hot start to the season Sunday,
moving to
3-0 while avoiding a series sweep by the Braves. The win
also
snapped a five-game Diamondbacks losing streak, and moved
Kennedy to 16-1 over his last 19 starts, dating back to
last season.

Gibson admits that winning the last game of the series was
important. “It makes you smile for sure,” he said. “It’s
been awhile
since we’ve shook hands after a game.”

If you take into account that Chris Young and Daniel
Hudson are on
the disabled list, Justin Upton has been hampered by a
lingering
thumb injury all season, and Stephen Drew hasn’t played a
single
inning; sitting with a .500 record isn’t anything to
complain about.

Upton has resumed his right field role two days in a row
after
missing several games due to injury, but has yet to
find his stride at the plate. His zero home runs over 42
at-bats to
start the season is a career long, though Upton plans to
play through
the injury from here on out as he cannot hurt it anymore
than it
already is.

While it may not seem like it, there are bright spots to
the painful
start the Diamondbacks have had. Craig Breslow, who came
over
from Oakland in the trade for Trevor Cahill, has gone 7
and 1/3
innings out of the bullpen without giving up an earned
run, and has
recorded 6 strikeouts. Through three starts Joe Saunders
has
looked impressive on the mound as well, pitching 21
innings and
giving up only 3 earned runs.

As a team the Diamondbacks are 25th in the majors with a
.225
batting average, with no starter from last season hitting
above .250,
aside from Young. Ryan Roberts, who hit .249 last season,
has
started off this season hitting just .173 in 52 at-bats.

These are stats that are bound to even out as the season
goes on,
especially for a roster filled with so many capable
hitters.

It’s safe to say the long ball has been the lone bright
spot to the
offense, with 17 home runs to start the season. Five of
those,
however, come from Young, who still has as many as the
entire
Chicago Cubs team combined.

Gibson has said time and time again that if Young was not
placed on
the DL by General Manager Kevin Towers, he would already
have
asked to be back in the lineup; a move that puts emphasis
on
management’s confidence in the outfield depth.

He has also taken extremely slow steps in the
rehabilitation of short
stop Stephen Drew, who hasn’t played a game since July 20,
2011
when he fractured his ankle sliding into home.

The 2011 NL Manager of the Year has shown confidence in
his young
players by allowing the bench to get plenty of playing
time, and at
the same time is preparing for a bit down the road.

Gibson is, conceivably, looking toward the end of the
season when it
would be more pertinent to have a healthy, well-rested
roster. One
that will be much more valuable come October, than it is
in April.

Craig Grialou contributed to this report.

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