Quietly, OF Michael Bourn paying dividends for the Diamondbacks
Jun 29, 2016, 9:16 PM | Updated: Jun 30, 2016, 11:29 am
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
PHOENIX — Forget the Diamondbacks’ five-game losing skid for a second.
While Arizona’s best players like Jake Lamb and Daniel Hudson were among those aiming to shoo away ailments of different sorts after a 9-8 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday, one of their teammates put together arguably his best performance of the year.
Thirty-three-year-old center fielder Michael Bourn, who the D-backs acquired midseason, made quite the mark on the game with four hits, including two doubles, while batting out of the 9-hole.
He also made a key defensive play that kept a Phillies run off the board.
“He’s just been playing his tail off,” D-backs manager Chip Hale said. “When we brought him here we needed a center fielder, and we knew he could play it. He’s played at a high level for many years in the majors league. We didn’t know the resiliency his body was going to have. He’s played an awful lot. We’ve pushed him pretty hard and he’s responded. He’s been a real treat for us — a shot in the arm we needed.”
Bourn has been the man who quietly has brought stability to an outfield bit by A.J. Pollock’s and David Peralta’s injuries. And by meeting his .265 career batting average as of Wednesday, he’s even been helpful for a lineup of outfielders who have struggled to consistently impact the D-backs offensively.
“I just take it one day at a time,” said Bourn, who was rumored to be a target of the D-backs before the season but joined the Toronto minor-league system instead. “And yes, I’m getting more comfortable. The more you get to play, I think the better you have a rhythm at playing. You see more pitches, you see the ball a little bit better.”
After joining Arizona in mid-May when Peralta’s injury created room on the D-backs for another outfielder, Bourn has taken ownership of center field in Arizona.
It was something he couldn’t have imagined just three months ago.
“It was shocking,” Bourn said of being designated for assignment by Atlanta in early April. “I didn’t understand it at the time. Sometimes you don’t understand things that happen in life. It wasn’t for me to understand, I guess. I just had to roll with it and keep looking forward.
“Arizona came back around and gave me opportunity.”
Wednesday, he took advantage.
Just count the ways he impacted the single game.
In the third, Bourn’s ground-rule double advanced Brandon Drury from first to third base before Jean Segura hit a sac-fly, giving the D-backs a 4-2 lead.
When the Phillies edged the game back to a tie with a single run in the fifth and another in the top of the seventh, Arizona regained a lead when Nick Ahmed led off with a pinch-hit single. Bourn advanced him to second with a single before an RBI to right field by Phil Gosselin put Arizona back ahead, 5-4. Paul Goldschmidt’s 2-RBI double followed, scoring Bourn from third and giving Arizona breathing room.
Bourn’s defense shined as well.
With two outs in the top of the fourth, the Phillies waved Freddy Galvis from second to home plate on a Cesar Hernandez double. But Bourn’s relay throw from center went through Segura, who gunned the ball to catcher Chris Herrmann quick enough for him to tag Galvis at home plate.
And with the D-backs on the ropes and trailing by a run in the 10th, Bourn singled with an out to put the game-tying run on base.
Unfortunately for the D-backs, it wasn’t meant to be.
For Bourn finding his way to the D-backs in a roundabout day? He probably thinks it was.
“I’ve been able to be blessed to play a game that I’ve been playing since 5. I’ve been blessed Arizona gave me an opportunity to play,” he said. “I’m thankful for that.”