Joe Saunders wanted to stay in Arizona, but Diamondbacks “wanted to go a different direction”

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Joe Saunders is being linked to a handful of teams now that he’s a free agent, but the veteran left-hander never wanted to hit the open market in the first place.

Saunders told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he “really wanted to come back” to the Diamondbacks, but the team “wanted to go a different direction” and non-tendered him rather than pay around $8.5 million via arbitration.

Of course, Saunders had the opportunity to stay. He just didn’t like the Diamondbacks’ two-year, $12 million offer and when he countered at three years and $27 million they “never countered back.”

Saunders repeatedly called his counter offer “very reasonable,” but odds are he won’t get $27 million as a free agent. He should, however, top the two-year, $12 million offer, although that’s certainly no sure thing for a 30-year-old with a 4.16 career ERA and mediocre secondary numbers.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.