10/09/07 10:20 PM ET
D-backs persevere despite key losses
Injuries to team's pillars not enough to keep Arizona down
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
"We've been fortunate to have guys who could replace others when they got injured, and do an incredible job. Like the starting pitchers [Yusmeiro Petit and, often spectacularly, Micah Owings] who filled the void for Johnson."Petit, Ojeda and his replacement as reserve infielder, Alberto Callaspo, all came from Tucson, at least a natural progression from Triple-A. But outfielder Justin Upton, the Majors' youngest player who didn't get out of his teens until Aug. 25, and shortstop Stephen Drew jumped up from Double-A Mobile. The upwardly mobile youngsters kept the D-backs rising, too. "It didn't matter who you were or where you came from. You were expected to contribute," said Clark, who occasionally felt like a relic around his teammates but, paradoxically, was also rejuvenated by them. "I feel old when I hear them talk," Clark said, smiling. "I've been married 13 years and have three kids, and these guys have girlfriends. But when I'm on the field with them, the passion they bring every day makes me feel young." Their youth perhaps is the very reason they have been able to persevere through those injuries. Jaded veterans may tend to overthink and overanalyze obstacles, recognizing a tough task -- or an easy excuse for not trying as hard. The D-backs "just play the game," you hear it echoed all over the clubhouse. "We have fun. We make it a point to have fun," Snyder said. "We feed off each other. We do rely on that, and it's an approach that would not be possible with too many veterans in the mix." An old sporting expression, predating the in-the-zone concept, holds that streaking players are "unconscious." In that case, the D-backs have been in a coma for months. They have also been blissfully ignorant of their surroundings, which, as perceived pressure rises, is not a bad condition. There was the time Chris Young was doing some pregame video scouting of the San Francisco Giants' starter, and something about Kevin Correia struck him as familiar. "Have we faced this guy before?" Young asked, narrowing his eyes. "Eh, yeah, dude," he was told. "You hit a walk-off homer off him earlier this season." Or, the time in mid-September when Mark Reynolds bounded on the team bus. The D-backs had just authored one of their patented comeback wins, in the midst of a fierce stretch battle with San Diego. "Did the Padres win?" asked Reynolds, who apparently hadn't even kept one eye on the scoreboard. No, he was told, the Padres had lost. "Well," Reynolds said, "then a pretty good day for us, huh?" With such an airy attitude, does this sound like a team that would cringe over the loss of three pillars?
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.