A Strong Desert Finish for Wick
Wick to Arizona!
Wickman added for stretch run
Reliever joins playoff push but ineligible for postseason
PHOENIX -- With bullpens across baseball tiring a bit in September, the D-backs added a reliable veteran to a 'pen that has been reliable all season.
That experience comes in the form of longtime closer Bob Wickman, designated for assignment by Atlanta on Aug. 24, although he will not be eligible for the playoff roster.
"We felt that Wickman could come in and help us and be the type of guy that could potentially pitch in relatively tight spots and help us finish these last 21 games," said general manager Josh Byrnes. "He's not eligible for the postseason roster, but obviously we feel like he improves our chances to get there."
Wickman spent most of the year as the Braves closer, saving 20 games in 26 chances while posting a 3.92 ERA.
Despite that experience, he will assume a role behind closer Jose Valverde and setup men Brandon Lyon and Tony Pena at the backend of the bullpen.
"Another quality guy that can help set up, whether it's a guy we need to go to in the sixth inning," Melvin said. "We've seen some games that we've had that we haven't been able to get some of our late-inning guys in there earlier in the game. This is a guy that can be a second closer for us, say in the sixth inning. He can give Lyon a blow, he can give Pena a blow. He can give anybody a blow."
Wickman said it could be tough at the beginning to adjust to that role after having his whole routine down in preparation for the ninth inning.
"I just have to start everything a little bit earlier in my routine and be ready when he calls," Wickman said.
Melvin said it would be nice to have a reliever who's pitched in every role out of the bullpen, a pitcher so experienced that he once called Melvin a teammate.
Having known Melvin as a teammate and a bench coach in Milwaukee, Wickman contacted Arizona as well as a handful of other teams while returning to his home in Wisconsin, where he took seven days off before resuming throwing. Now he's in the heart of a playoff race once again.
"It's great," he said. "I was with Atlanta, we were in the playoff race also. To finish off the season, I'm glad I get this opportunity to pitch in the playoff hunt. I'm just happy to get a chance. For a while I didn't know if I was going to get a chance to pitch again this year."
Stay Tuned Warriors - Bob is back in the Game!
Bobby Wick makes his D-Back debut
Sunday 9/9/07: After landing on his feet in Arizona on Friday, Bob Wickman made his first appearance with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fifth inning against the Cardinals at home on Sunday.
Bob looked a little rusty after the 2-week layoff, and it showed as Albert Pujols lead off with St. Louis ahead 4-2. After going 3-0 on the Cards 1st baseman, Bobby got the sharply hit grounder to third. As the ball dribbled into left field for an E5 error (what else is new?), Zilla bore down on Ryan Ludwick and So Taguchi to induce a couple of fly ball outs.
With Pujols now at third, Wick pitched carefully to Russell Branyan (yet another ex-Indian) and ended up walking him. Better to be safe than sorry with visions of Adam Dunn still dancing in his head. Branyan is a very similar “homer or nothing” type lefty.
Our hero closed out the frame by striking out Kelly Stinnett looking, and it seemed like the weight of the world just came off of his shoulders as he walked back to his new dugout. The Diamondbacks took a chance on him, and he passed his first test after getting back on the horse by leaving the score as it was when he entered.
After the ugly scene in Atlanta, any other player would have just hung ‘em up. Not Bob Wickman. He will leave the game on his terms. After being slandered in the press for two weeks as a “selfish jerk” by a clannish bunch of backbiters going nowhere fast, he answered them not at all.
I like the move with the D-Backs. As disappointing as it is to be ineligible for the postseason on a red-hot first place team, Bobby can provide insurance, keep his arm in shape and repair his damaged reputation.
He could have just gone fishin’ in Wisconsin for the rest of September and cashed his checks. That’s what a selfish jerk of a ballplayer would have done. J. Ladd 9/9/07
Bad Bounce costs Wick the game
SAN FRANCISCO 9/11/07 -- So much has gone right for the D-backs this year that they are due to get a bad bounce here and there. It was one of those unfortunate hops, or in this case, a skip, that helped their six-game win streak come to an end with a 2-1 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday night.
The loss, combined with the Padres' win over the Dodgers, cut the first-place D-backs' lead to 2 1/2 games in the National League West, but Arizona still holds a five-game advantage in the Wild Card chase.
"We really don't focus a whole lot on that," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "We just try to take care of ourselves each and every day. We've been on a six-game run, so you're going to lose a game every now and then, and we just lost a tough one tonight."
In the process, the D-backs wasted a stellar pitching performance from Edgar Gonzalez.
The right-hander, who was making his first start since June 26, may have solidified a spot in the rotation the rest of the way as he allowed just one run over six innings. Gonzalez seemed to have a good rhythm going from the start, as he used both sides of the plate and pitched inside when necessary to keep the San Francisco hitters honest.
"Really, that's all we could ask out of him," Melvin said.
The D-backs got on the board in the fourth when Chris Young hit a two-out homer to left off Kevin Correia.
But the lead didn't last long as the Giants tied things up in the bottom half of the inning. Rajai Davis led off the frame with an infield single and scored on Nate Schierholtz's double to left-center.
The D-backs could not manage any more offense despite some good opportunities.
In the fifth and sixth innings, they had a runner at third with one out, and both times they were unable to push across a run.
"We had some opportunities; we just couldn't capitalize on them," Melvin said. "We had some situational at-bats where we weren't great. A couple of times, we had a runner on third with less than two outs and couldn't get him in, and that was the difference in the game."
Daniel Ortmeier started things off by driving a Bob Wickman pitch on a line towards right-center. Right fielder Justin Upton started after the ball and looked like he would cut it off, but instead of taking a regular bounce, the ball skipped a bit and got by Upton. Ortmeier wound up with a leadoff triple.
"It skipped," Upton said. "It came down, and I was going after it, trying to cut it off, because if I had to go deeper, it would have been a double, and the ball skipped. It skipped like the ground was wet."
Ortmeier has faced Wickman twice this year and both at-bats resulted in triples. The first time Wickman worked him away, and this time he tried to go inside.
"I thought it was a pretty good pitch," Wickman said. "I didn't expect him to get that good of wood on it. I'm pretty disappointed that I let the team down. It's a tie game if I get out of that inning and we turn it over to the other guys in the 'pen."
Instead, Pedro Feliz followed with a sacrifice fly to left, and the Giants grabbed a 2-1 lead to head into the ninth.
Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Bob Wickman, right, tags out Los Angeles Dodgers' James Loney at home, as Loney tried to score after the ball got away from catcher Miguel Montero on a play at the plate that scored Rafael Furcal in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles on Saturday. The Dodgers won 6-2.
Diamondbacks carry on, Bob Wickman and his 267 career saves quietly moved on
Monday, perhaps for good.
Wickman retired the only batter he faced on a comebacker Sunday in Colorado, stranding a runner at third base, and said later it might be a fitting way to retire.
“This gives me a chance to walk off on my own terms if I do walk off,” he said.
“I got the last out that I faced and ended up being pretty successful. Hopefully, I helped this ball club and took some pressure off some of the guys. All I wanted was a chance to pitch, and to show to myself that I still could pitch.”
Wickman admitted to doubts after being waived by Atlanta before signing here Sept. 8, but he proved a valuable stretch-run addition, giving up one earned run with a 1.35 ERA in eight appearances.
He is ineligible for the playoff roster because he was not with the D-Backs at the Aug. 31 deadline.
“I thank Bob Melvin and the whole Diamondbacks organization for giving me an opportunity,” Wickman said.
Wickman has three children — ages 10, 8 and 4 — and said it might be time to save a few pitches for them.
“I’m 38. I’ve got a wonderful wife and three wonderful kids that I want to be able to throw ‘bp’ to,” he said.
The Wickmans have taken their children to spring training every year, and the family has spent summers in New York, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Atlanta, wherever he was playing.
“It’s getting to the point right now where maybe it’s about time to get settled and let them meet some friends that they are going to have every day. Whatever decision it is going to be, it is going to be a good one,” he said.
“If I don’t play, I’m going to be happier than heck being with my family every single day. If I do play, I’m going to be happy doing the thing I love to do.”