PHOENIX – From walk-off hero to seat on the bench in less than 48 hours, Diamondbacks rookie center fielder Adam Eaton can now fully relate to the fickle nature of baseball fortune.
Eaton’s comeuppance was tucked inside Tuesday night’s 11-inning walk-off victory over the Orioles, the second in a row for the never-say-die Diamondbacks.
Eaton, was the hero in the first of the two walk-offs, homering into the Chase Field pool to win Monday’s game in the ninth inning. But batting in the 10th inning Tuesday night, he didn’t exactly turn on the jets after hitting what became an inning-ending double play grounder. TV cameras captured Eaton noticeably slowing while running toward first base, then speeding up to try to beat the relay throw. Replays seemed to indicate that he beat the throw, but he was called out on a bang-bang play.
Eaton remained in the game, but Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said Wednesday it was only because he did not have any outfielders on his bench. “If I had another player, I would have removed him from the game,” Gibson said.
Eaton was not in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s series finale.
“I’m not going to tell you why,” Gibson said before going deeper into the play and Eaton’s overall approach.
Eaton was not in the clubhouse when reporters were allowed access before the game’s 12:40 start, but he told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com that he mistakenly thought there were two outs when he batted: “It was a mental lapse, and it won’t happen again.”
Gibson had a lot to say – good and bad.
“He didn’t hustle last night,” Gibson said before acknowledging that Eaton’s effort issue was a function of frustration and disappointment.
“He’s a very emotional player, he’s young,” Gibson said of Eaton, 24, who was 0-for-5 by the end of his double play excursion. “It’s not something he’ll do again – I’ll guarantee you that.
“He’s a great kid. These are growing pains; this is part of what makes him good as well. You don’t want to bury the kid.”
Eaton is one of the team’s grinders and quickest base runners, and Tuesday night’s double play came as Paul Goldschmidt was preparing his stroll to home plate. Goldschmidt had homered in the ninth to tie the game, and then homered in the 11th to win it.
“He just kind of pouted his way down to first base,” Gibson said. “He forgot he was in the big leagues. You just can’t do that. The kid cares a lot. He does things like that from time to time.
“He’s got a little to learn, he’ll learn a lot along the way. We’ll be patient with him.”
In the meantime, the D-backs provided Gibson with another outfield option by bringing up 27-year-old outfielder Tony Campana from Triple-A Reno.
Campana hit .293 in 102 games with the Aces and swiped 32 bases in 40 attempts.
“It’s an elite tool that he possesses,” Gibson said of Campana’s speed. “Has energy … creates havoc.”