NL WEST

News and notes by Tom Kraso­vic

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - NL WEST - JAKE ROTH, USA TO­DAY SPORTS Con­tribut­ing: Wire re­ports

“You hear peo­ple singing the same songs over and over again. Ev­ery­body gets into it. … It’s just the lit­tle things like that that are mak­ing it a lot of fun.” Di­a­mond­backs catcher Chris Her­rmann, on the team’s good-luck mu­sic that ac­com­pa­nied a 13-game win streak within which Ari­zona went 97 in­nings with­out trail­ing. The Padres ended the streak Sept. 8.

Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs

The out­look was en­cour­ag­ing for first base­man Paul Gold­sch

midt in his re­cov­ery from el­bow sore­ness. Gold­schmidt hit a home run Sept. 10 in his sec­ond game back since hav­ing an MRI exam and miss­ing some time.

Man­ager Torey Lovullo has a few op­tions to re­lieve Gold­schmidt, in­clud­ing surg­ing slug­ger

J.D. Martinez, who is the reg­u­lar right fielder.

Martinez en­tered the week with 21 home runs in 45 games since join­ing Ari­zona. Newly pro­moted Chris­tian

Walker was MVP of the Class AAA Pa­cific Coast League this sea­son.

Walker, 26, hit .309 with 32 home runs and 114 RBI for Reno. He bat­ted .148 in his pre­vi­ous crack at the big leagues in 2014-15, when he had 27 at-bats with the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles.

“If I can just limit the strike­outs and put the ball in play, good things hap­pen,” Walker said. “Just try­ing to keep it sim­ple and stay con­sis­tent with it.”

Be­hind Walker is an­other older prospect and first base­man who won his league’s MVP award this year. Kevin Cron, a Di­a­mond­backs draftee in 2014, hit .283 with 25 home runs and 35 dou­bles in the Class AA South­ern League. He’s 24.

uLovullo called on Archie Bradley to get the save Sept. 10, but the man­ager said Fer­nando

Rod­ney is still the closer. Rod­ney was com­ing off a 28-pitch out­ing.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies ap­peared to put them­selves on a play­off track by end­ing a re­cent funk while also ex­tend­ing the Dodgers’ hard times with a four-game sweep.

A po­ten­tial source of Oc­to­ber he­lium if the Rockies make the play­offs is Ian Des­mond. Can he re­gain his power? Des­mond, a first base­man/left fielder with ser­vice­able short­stop skills, has be­come a sin­gles hit­ter this year de­spite the move to Coors Field.

He had only five home runs and nine dou­bles through 280 at-bats. The 31-year-old’s slug­ging per­cent­age was about 50 points be­low his ca­reer av­er­age.

That’s not what gen­eral man­ager Jeff Bridich had in mind when he com­mit­ted $70 mil­lion to Des­mond last off­sea­son and for­feited a first-round draft pick.

Hand frac­tures can sap a hit­ter’s power, and Des­mond sus­tained one in March when he was hit by a pitch. Re­cur­ring calf in­juries also have con­trib­uted to a frus­trat­ing sea­son in which he has missed close to 70 games.

Short­stop Trevor Story, mean­while, was show­ing signs of no longer be­ing an easy out. He hit .262 with 10 dou­bles over a re­cent 17-game stretch.

The nine-game stretch that starts Sept. 15 looks invit­ing. The Rockies are 8-4 against San Diego and 12-5 against San Fran­cisco this sea­son.

Los An­ge­les Dodgers

Amid all the Dodgers’ trou­bles in re­cent weeks, this ques­tion emerged: Will they be able to get the ball to closer Ken­ley Jansen in Oc­to­ber if they get a lead?

Their set-up can­di­dates in­clude sev­eral right-han­ders with high­oc­tane stuff.

Bran­don Mor­row seems to have found a timely groove as a re­liever af­ter be­ing a starter much of his ca­reer. He re­cently hit 100 mph with his fast­ball and threw wipe­out slid­ers clocked at 90-91. Re­cently pro­moted rookie

Walker Buehler, 23, was an ex­treme long­shot can­di­date un­til re­cently, when he showed poise ad­just­ing to both a new role and the big leagues. How­ever, he gave up a grand slam Sept. 10.

Pe­dro Baez is a vet­eran re­liever. He strug­gled in re­cent games, but man­ager Dave Roberts de­fended him pub­licly and crit­i­cized fans for boo­ing the fourthyear Dodger as he en­tered a game last week. Josh Fields could draw con­sid­er­a­tion, too. He was av­er­ag­ing a strike­out an in­ning but also had al­lowed 10 home runs. Hav­ing Adrian Gon­za­lez

on the play­off ros­ter would re­tain a shrewd ob­server of pitch­ers, but Gon­za­lez, 35, had a mea­ger .250 on-base per­cent­age since his re­turn Aug. 18 and plays only first base. That’s Cody Bellinger’s main po­si­tion.

San Diego Padres

For­mer New York Yan­kees prospect Jose Pirela is work­ing his way into the Padres’ 2018 lineup as a left fielder and top-ofthe-lineup pres­ence.

A high-en­ergy per­former, Pirela has com­piled num­bers that project to 50 dou­bles and 20 home runs over a full sea­son. The right-handed hit­ter earned fre­quent oc­cu­pancy in the lineup’s first and third spots.

A man in search of a po­si­tion for much of his ca­reer, Pirela seems to have found a home in left field. Though not the smoothest de­fender, he has im­proved and can fill in at sec­ond base or first base.

Pirela plays with en­thu­si­asm. For a club headed to its sev­enth straight los­ing sea­son, he thrills fans by charg­ing from the bat­ter’s box and leg­ging out ex­tra bases.

With the Yan­kees, he wasn’t the an­swer as a would-be suc­ces­sor to All-Star sec­ond-base­man Robin­son Cano. With the Padres, he has de­vel­oped into a com­pe­tent big lea­guer.

Padres lead in­vestor Peter Sei­dler re­it­er­ated that fans’ pa­tience will be re­warded. “It’ll be soon when we start clinch­ing play­off spots,” he told 1090 AM. In the five full years un­der Sei­dler and con­trol owner Ron Fowler, the team hasn’t con­tended.

San Fran­cisco Gi­ants

A rot­ten sea­son might bear fruit in June. The Gi­ants be­gan this week in the No. 2 spot for the 2018 am­a­teur draft.

The last time they had the No. 2 pick, in 1985, they made good use of it: They chose first base­man Will Clark, who went on to hit .303 in his big-league ca­reer.

Im­pact tal­ent is much needed for a farm sys­tem that pro­vided few ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ments this year, ei­ther in the mi­nor leagues or through the per­for­mance of its prospects who joined the Gi­ants.

Base­ball Amer­ica named out­fielder/first base­man Chris Shaw the sys­tem’s best player. Shaw, who’ll turn 24 next month, hit .292 with 24 home runs in 125 games be­tween Class AA Rich­mond (Va.) and Class AAA Sacra­mento (Calif.).

“We're try­ing to get him as pre­pared for left field as we can,” gen­eral man­ager Bobby Evans said. Base­ball Amer­ica’s choice of best pitcher in the Gi­ants or­ga­ni­za­tion was An­drew Suarez. The durable lefty, 25, has a ca­reer ERA of 3.24 and a strike­out rate of 7.9 per nine in­nings.

San Diego left fielder Jose Pirela ap­pears to have found a home with the Padres. The for­mer New York Yan­kees prospect has been im­pres­sive at the plate for San Diego.

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