PHOENIX — A day after calling his team’s performance in a series-opening loss to Chicago embarrassing, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale struck a different note.
Trying to explain his team’s slow start to the season, Hale said the players are “worrying about winning too much.”
Much is expected from the D-backs here in 2016 — and still is — yet after a strong Cactus League showing, the D-backs have but one win in the first four games.
Only San Diego (0-3) had a worse mark in the National League entering play Friday.
“We’ve become so results-oriented that guys are starting to try to live up to it and (we need to) just worry about what we worry about,” Hale said. “Our team is best, our group is best when they’re worried about getting ready for the game, playing the game the right way, hustling; all those things is our DNA. Those are the things that are important to us (that) we need to worry about instead of worrying about the result.”
Of course that’s often easier said than done.
“It’s tough at times because guys don’t enjoy making outs, they don’t enjoy being not successful on the mound,” Hale continued, “but it’s probably not because they don’t have the good stuff or the good at-bats, it’s just they’re just thinking too much about ‘I have to get a hit’ or ‘I have to get this guy out’; just worry about how you’re going to go about doing those things.”
Hale pointed to several instances in Thursday’s 14-6 loss to the Cubs that bothered him: throwing errors by catcher Welington Castillo and third baseman Jake Lamb in the third and fourth innings, respectively, and second baseman Jean Segura not covering first on a bunt play in the seventh.
The late-inning at-bats also troubled Hale.
The D-backs went hitless the final three frames, striking out six times in 10 plate appearances.
“We didn’t play very well last night,” Hale said Friday. “In the sixth, seventh inning, we just sort of lost our mojo. We didn’t play the way we can play. We forgot about things on the field. We didn’t take care of how we play the game.”
Immediately following the game pitching coach Mike Butcher gathered the pitchers together for a meeting.
Through four games, D-backs starters have a combined 10.18 ERA (23 ER in 20.1 IP), while the staff’s collective ERA (8.25) ranks dead last in the NL and second-worst in all of baseball, behind only Houston (9.36).
And no team — in either league — has allowed more runs, 34, than the D-backs.
“Remember, it’s early in the year,” Hale said. “We don’t want them to get them discouraged.”
The D-backs sent left-hander Robbie Ray to the mound for game two against the 3-0 Cubs.
It’s Ray’s 2016 season debut.
“Sometimes guys will pitch well and still get hit,” Hale said. “The Cubs are definitely a — we saw them in the playoffs last year, they are a playoff-caliber team this year already and they are rolling, so he’s going to have to go out there and spot the ball where he needs to. He has the stuff to stop them but baseball is a funny game.
“We need to turn it around. I think our offense is ready to go. We just (need to) make the plays behind him.”
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