LOS ANGELES – Maybe the Diamondbacks’ major change at the non-waiver trading deadline will involve a short flight from Reno.
Patrick Corbin will return to the starting rotation Wednesday after being recalled from Class AAA Reno on Tuesday, when the D-backs were the subject of persistent rumors but made only one trade, acquiring right-hander reliever Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik from Boston for left-hander Craig Breslow. They added Chris Johnson on Sunday, addressing third base, but a viable trade partner for shortstop Stephen Drew never presented itself.
It was a tweak more than a major play – the D-backs were linked to everyone from Cliff Lee to Felix Hernandez on the internet – but general manager Kevin Towers said it was the best way to go with the trade options for starting pitching that presented itself.
“As I said the other day, we targeted starting pitching and were fairly aggressive after it. Nothing came to fruition there,” said Towers, who was leaving with D-backs President/CEO Derrick Hall and special assistant Luis Gonzalez for a week-long visit to Japan in the wee hours Wednesday morning.
“The pitchers that were available to us, we didn’t feel they were probably upgrades over guys like (Tyler) Skaggs and Corbin and (Trevor) Bauer, who we had in here internally. We chose not to do some of those deals.”
Corbin will replace Collmenter in the rotation, with Collmenter moving to a long relief role. With Albers and perhaps Podsednik not scheduled to join the D-backs until the first game of the Philadelphia series Friday, the D-backs were a player light Tuesday. Two, if you count Willie Bloomquist, who did not start for the second consecutive day because of back spasms that cropped up Monday.
NL West co-leaders San Francisco and Los Angeles landed bigger-money acquisitions at the deadline. The Giants added a needed bat in right fielder Hunter Pence, and the Dodgers did likewise in acquiring Shane Victorino — both courtesy of the Phillies — but keeping up with the big-spending Joneses did not figure into the D-backs’ thinking.
“I never let that affect me,” Towers said. “All I worry about is ourselves. You certainly watch what’s going on with others, but I don’t think it should be a knee-jerk reaction to counter-punch just because they have done something.
“Sometimes you can do too much. Sometimes when you are winning, there is the worry that if you change too many pieces … all of a sudden that chemistry changes drastically, sometimes it’s not a good thing. We still feel with all the moves made by clubs in this division that we’re right there, we’re right in the rear-view mirror, and we have a chance to compete with them.”
The D-backs (52-51) were 3½ games behind the leaders entering Tuesday games. They were three games back after 103 games last year.
Players were fine with the limited changes.
“I like our team. I’ve always liked our team,” Bloomquist said. “I’ve always said if we play the way we are capable of, we don’t have a lot to worry about. We haven’t played as well as we can, but we’re playing better.”
Albers, 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 40 relief appearances for the Red Sox, gives the D-backs another 94-96 mph fastball to use out of the bullpen. The name might have been under the radar, but the position was not. Towers added Brad Ziegler at this time last year and believes strongly in a strong bullpen. With Takashi Saito unavailable to pitch every day yet, Albers can take up some of the load. Albers is 21-29 with a 4.78 ERA in eight major-league seasons but was mostly a middle reliever until recently.
“Very similar to David Hernandez, a guy with a power arm, a heavy ball,” Towers said. “He can dominate good teams’ middle of the orders. You can’t have enough of those guys in situations where you have a lead or you are tied. You can’t keep going back to the well with the same guy on back-to-back days.”
Collmenter has won his last three starts, all quality starts, while stepping into the rotation when Bauer was returned to Reno, but manager Kirk Gibson said he prefers Collmenter in the bullpen.
“Wherever I end up, I’ll take it and run with it,” Collmenter said.
Scouts who have seen Corbin recently say he has added more depth to his breaking pitches, and he struck out 22 in 15 innings in his three most recent starts in Reno.
Corbin is 2-4 with one save and a 4.15 ERA in nine appearances over two stints with the D-backs, the first as a starter and the second as a reliever.
Veteran major leaguer Podsednik, 36, hit .387 in 62 at-bats with the Red Sox but has spent most of the season at Class AAA Lehigh Valley and Class AAA Pawtucket.