In the attempt to answer questions about the future, the Diamondbacks initiated their own version of the Reno-to-Phoenix shuttle.
On Thursday, the Diamondbacks opened the clubhouse doors to third baseman Jake Lamb and continued their hospitality on Friday with a welcome ceremony for left-handed pitcher Andrew Chafin.
Both Lamb and Chafin represents two parts of a puzzle which the Diamondbacks hope interlock. Other parts, they trust, would include quality starting pitching and power in the line-up.
For now, the additions of Lamb and Chafin are considered initials steps in the process to bring the Diamondbacks back to credibility.
Aside from their desire to increase the pitching staff population to 13, the approach with Chafin is pretty much a duplicate of the organization’s method to Lamb.
Like Lamb, Chafin is coming into a major league environment with firm credentials.
Combined at Double-AA Mobile and Triple-A Reno, the 24-year-old native of Kettering, Ohio was 8-6 and an ERA of 3.96 in 23 starts. For the second consecutive season, he was named to the Southern League All-Star team and in 2012, he led the California League in strikeouts.
For now, the plan has Chafin joining the bullpen and he’s more than willing to accept that assignment.
“Whatever they want is fine with me,” he said prior to Friday’s game with the Rockies in Chase Field. “Just excited to be here and it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Chafin said there is a major adjustment from starter to reliever and that’s the time needed to get ready.
“Usually, I have as much time as I need but now, it will have to be quicker,” he said. “Just have to get up more quickly and there are pros and cons both as a starter and coming out of the bullpen.”
To that degree, the Diamondbacks are sensitive.
“He’ll have extra time to arm up,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Friday’s game with the Rockies. “He’s here because we have a current need. If he stays through the rest of the season, he’ll have to earn it. Circumstances do change.”
Pundits project Chafin as a fourth or fifth starter but his personality is considered aggressive and competitive. For now, he is not projected into the rotation and if that happens, Gibson pointed out, he could start in September.
Nearing mid-August, Chafin is the 13th pitcher on the staff and, according to Gibson, Chafin’s addition lends to more flexibility. Plus, this also gives the Diamondbacks three lefties in the bullpen, Oliver Perez, Eury Del La Rosa and now Chafin.
A corresponding move also presents Gibson with greater personnel movement.
That’s because infielder Cliff Pennington is back from the disabled list and a roster move Friday to bring up veteran outfielder Xavier Paul from Reno, Gibson said, provides options.
In this mix, infielder Nick Ahmed was sent back to Reno. With the Diamondbacks, Ahmed appeared in 19 games and hit .228. While Gibson pledged Ahmed will be back in the majors, “we want him to play and get at-bats. His time up here would be limited and he needs to play everyday.”
During five major league seasons with the Dodgers, Pirates and Reds, Paul, at 29-years-old and a native of Sidell, La., hit .254 with 32 doubles, 12 home runs and 71 RBIs in 335 career games.
To make room for Paul, the Diamondbacks optioned outfielder Roger Kieschnick to Reno.
“We think (Paul) is a better option off than bench than Roger,” Gibson said. “(Paul) runs well and has a decent arm. We see him as a corner outfielder.”
As well, the outfield could get crowded over the next week or so. That’s because centerfielder A. J. Pollock is likely back. Though his broken right hand continues to heel, Pollock is rehabbing at Reno. Coming into play Friday, Pollock appeared in five games with the Aces and the rookie Arizona League Diamondbacks and hit .154 (2-for-18).
“Pollock is early in his recovery,” offered Gibson. He’s experiencing some soreness so he is some time away.”