Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo on using humidor for baseballs at Chase Field.
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Starting pitcher Taijuan Walker discusses his first start in a Diamondbacks uniform on Wednesday against the Giants. Bob McManaman/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo talks about his club’s 8-6 win over the Giants on Wednesday. Bob McManaman/azcentral sports
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Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin talks about his outing vs. the Giants and his struggles to retire Hunter Pence.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks dedicated Paul Goldschmidt Field in Goodyear on April 4, 2017. It’s the 39th “Diamonds Back” Field in Arizona. Video: Arizona Diamondbacks
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Diamondbacks shortstop Chris Owings delivered the game-winning hit on Sunday vs. the Giants.
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Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo talks about the hug he gave walk-off hero Chris Owings and about his first win in his new job.
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Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke gave up two runs in five innings against the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at Chase Field.
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Diamondbacks insider Nick Piecoro and Jay Dieffenbach talk about the upcoming baseball season. The lineup appears to be solid. What about the pitching staff? Video: Cheryl Evans/azcentral sports
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USA TODAY Sports released its annual list of players to watch for in the upcoming season.
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The Diamondbacks had their photos taken on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 at Salt River Fields.
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In a continuing quest to upgrade the environment and experience at their home stadium, the Diamondbacks have tried just about everything over the years to punch up the place. They’ve brought in a jumbo, 3-foot long corn dog, a Big Unit and a Mark Trumbo. Some ideas have worked better than others.
Now, the Diamondbacks have decided to install a giant humidor at Chase Field. Bet you can’t guess what they’re going to do with that.
Close, but no cigars.
The team has been toying with the thought for a while and on Thursday, Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall made it official when he announced during an interview on the club’s flagship radio station that the humidor is now a full-go.
“We, for the past five or six years, have talked about the idea,” Hall told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “We talked to former pitchers, whether it’s J.J. Putz or pitchers who have retired or pitchers we’ve traded, and said, ‘What did you like, what didn’t you like?’ They all talked about the grip.
“The one thing you don’t really want to do is negatively impact the offense because that’s part of the fun of Chase Field or Coors Field. But I don’t think (a humidor) really did diminish the offense at Coors Field. We don’t know if it’s going to make much of a difference, but it’s probably a necessity.”
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Because of Arizona’s sweltering summer heat and dry conditions – not to mention the Valley’s high elevation – storing baseballs in a specially designed humidor should improve grip. According to Major League Baseball guidelines, the optimum conditions for storing balls should be 70 degrees with about 50 percent relative humidity.
A humidor can assure those numbers, and Hall said plans are in the works to have one installed in downtown Phoenix in about a month.
“I haven’t really thought a lot about it,” manager Torey Lovullo said, adding, “Who knows what the data vs. the current data will show? I just know we (will be) up to par with what Major League Baseball considers to be their guidelines, and that’s really important to all of us.”
The Colorado Rockies are the only MLB franchise that uses a humidor. They had one installed at Coors Field in Denver in 2002.
While it may have improved a pitcher’s grip, it didn’t help him throw breaking balls in the high altitude of Denver. The real purpose of using a humidor in the Mile High City was to reduce the bounciness of the baseball and slightly increase its weight so it wouldn’t travel so far when hit. The thinner air at high altitude reduces resistance on batted balls, enabling them to travel farther.
According to data tracked over the first 10 years of the humidor’s existence at Coors, the desired results were achieved. From 2002-11, the average number of home runs and runs scored at Coors Field dropped significantly – by 20-25 percent in both cases.
In recent years, however, those numbers have started to change and once again, more homers have been consistently hit at the stadium. Will the numbers dip and spike just the same at Chase Field, which sits 1,100 feet above sea level – 4,180 feet lower than that of Coors Field?
“I couldn’t tell you what it’s like to play with a humidor ball or a non-humidor ball,” said Diamondbacks infielder Daniel Descalso, who spent the past two seasons with the Rockies. “I don’t think it’s really stopped offensive production over there in Denver, so I don’t anticipate it having a huge impact here, other than maybe pitchers will have a little more success gripping the ball, and I think that’s really what it was designed to do so it’s not so slick.”
Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin didn’t know about the team’s plans to begin using a humidor until Thursday afternoon, but he said if it helps reduce the slickness of baseballs, he’s all for it.
“Some of them are slick,” he said. “You kind of got to rub it up when you get the ball back, pretty much every couple pitches when you get a new ball. If it helps out there, that’ll be great. The ball does feel a little dusty at times, too, I would say. But yeah, that would be good if that’s something they can eliminate.”
A better grip could better protect hitters, the players said.
“You hear guys talk about using pine tar or rosin as a pitcher,” Descalso said, “and they’re saying it’s so they have a better feel so they’re not losing balls at hitters’ heads. So if a guy has a better feel for it and can be more around the (strike) zone, I think that’s good.”
“We’ll see what happens,” Corbin said, “but hopefully the ball just feels better, you get a better grip, and when a pitcher can have a better grip, that makes the game safer as well.”
As for speculation that the Diamondbacks are adding the humidor to appease a pitcher such as Zack Greinke and make his numbers look better, Hall said that’s the case at all.
“You could talk to Zack Greinke or any pitcher we have and they say, ‘This is news to me,’ just as it is to everyone else out there,” Hall said. “We’ve never had a conversation with any current pitcher, and this is something we’ve looked at for five-plus years, so well before Zack Greinke was here.
“It had nothing to do with last year’s (team) ERA, as bad as that was. We started looking at this when we were pitching pretty well, too.”
Corbin isn’t really sure what to think about the whole idea.
“I didn’t know a humidor was this big of a deal,” he said.
Reach McManaman at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.
Indians at Diamondbacks
When: 6:40 p.m.
Where: Chase Field (Roof hotline: 602-462-6262).
Pitchers: Diamondbacks RHP Shelby Miller (3-12, 6.15)* vs. Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40)*
TV/Radio: FSAZ/KMVP-FM (98.7), KHOV-FM (105.1).
*Stats from 2016
Miller made 20 starts last year in his debut season with the Diamondbacks, which included a demotion to the minor leagues. He posted a 3.98 ERA in six starts after being recalled from Triple-A Reno on Aug. 31. He has yet to win a home game at Chase Field, going 0-8 with a 7.39 ERA. His opponents’ batting average with runners in scoring position was .337 overall. Miller has never faced Cleveland. … In seven major-league seasons, all with the Indians, Tomlin is 49-39 with a 4.40 career ERA. Between the regular season and the postseason, he logged a career-high 191.2 innings in 2016. He went 9-2 with a 3.51 ERA from the start of the season to the All-Star break. His 13 wins last season were a career high.
Saturday: At Chase Field, 5:10 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Zack Greinke (0-0, 3.60) vs. Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (12-9, 4.26)*
Sunday: At Chase Field, 1:10 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Patrick Corbin (0-1, 4.50) vs. Indians RHP Corey Kluber (0-0, 7.50).
Monday: At San Francisco, 1:35 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Taijuan Walker (1-0, 6.00) vs. Giants LHP Matt Moore (0-1, 5.06).