Tom Verducci's View

June 25, 2006

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

Kendrick talkedtough by saying that the club won't pay Grimsley the remainder of his $825,000salary, but it likely will have to. The Diamondbacks goofed by grantingGrimsley'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 forsaying that Grimsley did "no less than steal from us." It's about timesomeone in a sport chock full of enablers claimed the high ground.

NO MORE BIG TIMEFOR SMALL
Reality, like opposing batters, hit Aaron Small hard last Saturday, when theYankees demoted last year's 10-0 Cinderella man. Small (left), who was 0-3 withan 8.46 ERA, joins other journeymen pitchers who have not sustained their 2005successes. Small, the Brewers' Doug Davis (4-4, 5.07 ERA), the Blue Jays' JoshTowers (1-8, 9.00) and the Orioles' Bruce Chen (0-6, 7.33) have struggled afterdouble-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 makingbetter use of his speed (28 stolen bases in 32 tries through Sunday). Pattersonwas hitting 30 points higher than his career .252 average entering theseason.

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

• Congratulationsto Donald Hall, the country's newly named poet laureate and the first among the14 honorees to have made a guest spring training appearance (with the 1973Pirates).

PHOTOLARRY GOREN/ICON SMI PHOTOMARK GOLDMAN/ICON SM PHOTOMIKE EHRMANN/WIREIMAGE.COM

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)