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Phillies Notebook: Call-up Cloyd not intimidated by hitter-friendly Chase Field

Diamondbacks’ ballpark among most hitter friendly in big leagues, but Tyler Cloyd says first start of 2013 is ‘just another game.’

The Phillies made more cuts Tuesday, jettisoning Tyler Cloyd and four more players to minor league camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Phillies made more cuts Tuesday, jettisoning Tyler Cloyd and four more players to minor league camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

PHOENIX - Some of the best pitchers in the game also have been some of the baseball's most intimidating.

Bob Gibson. Bob Feller. Sandy Koufax. Don Drysdale. Roger Clemens. Randy Johnson. Aroldis Chapman.

But it can work the other way around, such as when a rookie pitcher was summoned in to face Barry Bonds in late-inning situations in 2002.

Or if your Tyler Cloyd, and you are brought into the big leagues to face one of the league's top offenses, featuring one of the league's top hitters in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly ballparks.

According to the run index stat, from the father of sabermetrics, Bill James, Chase Field is the NL's the second-most hitter-friendly park since 2010 (behind Coors Field) and the fifth friendliest in all of baseball.

"It can intimidate anyone if that Louisville catches up with him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of the home run haven in Phoenix. "Why would you get intimidated? That's the key to being great."

Cloyd, stepping into the rotation in place of injured Roy Halladay, has a couple things going for him. It's not his first taste of the big leagues, so he shouldn't be as easily rattled.

And he also seemed unconcerned when asked about the hitter-friendly environs of Chase Field.

"For me, it's just another game," Cloyd said. "Obviously, I can only control the pitches the pitches I throw and how they go, so for me it's going out there, trusting my stuff as I always do, and keep the ball down."

Some Phils pitchers have got bitten by the D-backs at Chase Field. In April 2010, Cole Hamels served up four home runs in a 7-4 defeat. Last April, Kyle Kendrick gave up seven runs on 11 hits in a 9-5 loss.

Although Arizona traded its best hitter in January - Justin Upton, now in Atlanta, leads the NL in home runs - the D-backs' offense is one of the best in the league.

Entering last night's game Arizona had scored 153 runs (fourth in the NL), hit 38 home runs (fifth), accumulated 488 total bases (second), and had a .411 slugging percentage (fourth) and .726 OPS (fourth).

The Diamondbacks also have the hottest hitter in baseball in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. He entered last night's game hitting .320, with nine home runs and a 1.005 OPS this season. But he's been ridiculous in May: .488, .516 OBP, 1.516 OPS and four home runs in seven games.

It's a formidable task for Cloyd, but he's also done OK in May. Cloyd allowed one run on four hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks in eight innings of his only start of the month, last Friday in Lehigh Valley.

"Everything kind of clicked finally," Cloyd said. "My cutter was finally there. I had a good four-seamer and I was able to locate everything. It was the best I felt all year."

Cloyd, 25, went 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in six starts with the Phillies in 2012. He was 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six games with Triple A Lehigh Valley this year.

Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Cloyd got the call to pitch in place of Halladay over others in the minor leagues simply because he's been pitching better than the other candidates lately.

Delmon Young update

The sample size is small after only a week of games, but Delmon Young has looked comfortable in rightfield.

Before last week, Young hadn't played right in a major league game since September 2007. In the last few seasons, his defense has regressed; Young was used almost exclusively as a designated hitter with Detroit in 2012.

But after getting surgery on his right ankle and dropping a few pounds, too, Young has caught everything hit his way and has showed off a strong arm, too. In a spacious San Francisco outfield on Wednesday, Young twice fired strikes from the rightfield wall to second base, one that nearly doubled up a runner.

"You like that, 96 [mph] with a slide step?" Young joked. "I was a little nervous out there. First, you have to deal with the wind, then it's short and deep and there's every nook and cranny out there, batting practice balls are bouncing everywhere. [Buster] Posey hit a ball before [Monday's] game of the brick wall [in center] that went all the way back to second base. It was an obstacle course, but it's good when your pitchers are throwing the ball well and there aren't many balls barreled up."

"He looks fine," Manuel added. "So far, he's caught everything he's supposed to catch."

Manuel would just like to see Young's bat heat up. Young entered yesterday 3-for-23 (.130) since being activated from the disabled list.

Today on On the DNL blog, David Murphy says now is the time for the Phillies to start trying to trade Ryan Howard.