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Tom Verducci
June 26, 2006
ARIZONA'S EMBARRASSING RUN From June 5 through Sunday the Diamondbacks lost 12 of 13 games while being outscored 101-38; released relief pitcher Jason Grimsley after federal agents knocked down his door in a performance-enhancing-drug raid; ate the most money ever on a guaranteed contract (about $20.5 million) to make sure righthander Russ Ortiz never pitched for them again; and watched their franchise player, Luis Gonzalez (right), defend himself after the team's managing general partner, Ken Kendrick, told The Arizona Republic that he's heard "whispers" of steroid use by the outfielder. Amazingly, Arizona, which blew a 21/2-game lead during their slump, was only one game out in the NL West.
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June 26, 2006

Tom Verducci's View

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ARIZONA'S EMBARRASSING RUN
From June 5 through Sunday the Diamondbacks lost 12 of 13 games while being outscored 101-38; released relief pitcher Jason Grimsley after federal agents knocked down his door in a performance-enhancing-drug raid; ate the most money ever on a guaranteed contract (about $20.5 million) to make sure righthander Russ Ortiz never pitched for them again; and watched their franchise player, Luis Gonzalez (right), defend himself after the team's managing general partner, Ken Kendrick, told The Arizona Republic that he's heard "whispers" of steroid use by the outfielder. Amazingly, Arizona, which blew a 21/2-game lead during their slump, was only one game out in the NL West.

Kendrick talked tough by saying that the club won't pay Grimsley the remainder of his $825,000 salary, but it likely will have to. The Diamondbacks goofed by granting Grimsley's wish to be released (in which case guaranteed contracts are paid) rather than putting him on the restricted list. But give credit to Kendrick for saying that Grimsley did "no less than steal from us." It's about time someone in a sport chock full of enablers claimed the high ground.

NO MORE BIG TIME FOR SMALL
Reality, like opposing batters, hit Aaron Small hard last Saturday, when the Yankees demoted last year's 10-0 Cinderella man. Small (left), who was 0-3 with an 8.46 ERA, joins other journeymen pitchers who have not sustained their 2005 successes. Small, the Brewers' Doug Davis (4-4, 5.07 ERA), the Blue Jays' Josh Towers (1-8, 9.00) and the Orioles' Bruce Chen (0-6, 7.33) have struggled after double-digit wins and sub-4.00 ERAs last year.

THE RUNDOWN
? The Orioles' Corey Patterson (right) has "totally changed his game," according to one AL general manager, who noted that the outfielder is making better use of his speed (28 stolen bases in 32 tries through Sunday). Patterson was hitting 30 points higher than his career .252 average entering the season.

? Back from a shoulder injury, Cubs ace Mark Prior made a disastrous season debut against the Tigers on Sunday, giving up eight runs in 32/3 innings. This week should also mark the return of the Astros' Roger Clemens (retirement), the Blue Jays' A.J. Burnett (elbow) and the Pirates' Kip Wells (blood clot).

? Congratulations to Donald Hall, the country's newly named poet laureate and the first among the 14 honorees to have made a guest spring training appearance (with the 1973 Pirates).

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