A vicious collision with Darin Erstad last year landed Johnny Estrada in the hospital and altered his career with the Atlanta Braves.
So it came with some sigh of relief when Estrada stood his ground and waited for contact from Ray Durham in a play at the plate in the second inning of Wednesday’s win over the Giants. Tony Clark’s relay from Eric Byrnes got to Estrada in time, and Durham was tagged out as he slid into the All-Star catcher.
“You always think about (a collision), but if you’re a catcher, you have to live with it,” said Arizona manager Bob Melvin, a former catcher. “It’s good that he got it out of the way in a big part of the game and didn’t shy away from it.” Estrada suffered a mild concussion last June 6 when Erstad, a former college football punter, dropped his left shoulder before plowing into Estrada at the plate.
The Braves showed their displeasure over the play when they threw behind Erstad in his first at-bat the following day. After batting .314 in his All-Star season of 2003, Estrada was batting .282 at the time of the collision. Over the final five months of the season, his average was .252. He was batting .182 going into Thursday’s game.
“I guess from now on, I have to assume that somebody’s going to try to take my head off,” Estrada said. “I never thought I’d be involved in something like that. You just have to kind of prepare yourself for the worst.”
Shortstop Craig Counsell was scratched from the lineup prior to Thursday’s game due to tightness in his right hamstring. He is considered day-to-day and doubtful for today’s game.
Meanwhile, Orlando Hudson is day-to-day after injuring a finger sliding into home Thursday night.
Even when the Diamondbacks were burning through relievers to cover nearly 20 innings between Brandon Webb’s two most recent starts, Greg Aquino went unused.
He took the weekend off to rest a tight muscle in his right shoulder and reported no pain after throwing in the bullpen during Wednesday night’s game. He said the issue was not related to the forearm and elbow problems that sidelined him two months early last season. “I feel better now,” Aquino said. “I can pitch.”
Melvin said he was pleased with what he saw out of reliever Brandon Medders in his season debut after Medders opened the year on the disabled list. Medders threw a perfect ninth inning Wednesday. “Looking at his velocity and command, it looked like he was in midseason form,” Melvin said. . . Mesa High wrestler Anthony Robles, who won two state titles despite being born with just one leg, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.