Behind the scenes, D-backs count on Nevin, Bell

May 20th, 2016

PHOENIX -- In compensating for a starting rotation that didn't pitch deep into games the first six weeks of the season, the D-backs had to do a lot of shuffling between Triple-A Reno and the big league team.

Evan Marshall, Jake Barrett, Matt Buschmann, Silvino Bracho, Kyle Drabek, Archie Bradley, Tyler Wagner and Enrique Burgos are among the pitchers who have ridden the shuttle back and forth.

While it might seem easy to call up Bradley to make a spot start or to be available as a long man out of the bullpen at the big league level, the move creates a ripple effect.

For instance, it leaves Reno without a starting pitcher for that night's game. That's where farm director Mike Bell and Reno manager Phil Nevin come in.

"I don't want to be disrespectful to any other guys in baseball who are doing his job, but I think Mike has to rank as one of the top guys in the business of development," D-backs general manager Dave Stewart said. "He's done an outstanding job. There's a lot to it. It's evaluating talent, it's understanding who to be patient with, who you can push, how to talk to these guys -- who you give a pat on the back to and who you give the boot to. He's just one of the best at getting it done and moving our talent around and dealing with the ups and downs."

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Stewart showed the confidence he has in Bell's ability to evaluate talent when the team was looking to add a left-hander at the end of April.

There were a couple of veteran candidates at Reno in Adam Loewen and Scott Rice, but they weren't the ones who Bell recommended. Instead, he suggested Class A lefty Zac Curtis.

"There were a lot of candidates and Mike immediately said, 'If you grade these guys out, I think you won't go wrong if Curtis is your guy,'" Stewart said.

Curtis has appeared in seven games (5 1/3 innings) for the D-backs and has yet to allow a run.

While Bell has a large say in who plays in Reno, it's up to Nevin to deal with the fallout from players who are disappointed that they didn't get called up.

Now in his third year as Reno's manager, Nevin is well-regarded in the Arizona organization, and he got serious consideration for the manager's job that went to Chip Hale after the 2014 season.

"Nev's job is probably one of the toughest jobs in baseball, because you're dealing with guys that have played in the big leagues that want to get back to the big leagues," Stewart said. "You've also got guys that have aspirations of getting to the big leagues. Nev's got to temper all that, and he's got to keep a happy clubhouse and keep these guys inspired to play and he does a great job of that."