Bob Melvin picked up bits and pieces of
information from every manager he ever played for or coached with, from Frank Robinson in Baltimore, and Sparky Anderson in Detroit, to Bob Brenly in Arizona
and Roger Craig in San Francisco.
But the skipper who taught Melvin the most was Phil Garner, now the manager of the Houston Astros, against whom Melvin and the Diamondbacks were set to play a three-game series this week at Minute Maid Park.
"He was by far the biggest," Melvin said, referring to Garner's influence. "As a guy who had a lot to do with the philosophies I believe in and the stats I look at, Phil Garner is far and away the guy that had the biggest impact on me in the short time I've managed.
"There's nobody close."
Melvin, who managed the past two seasons in Seattle and is in his first season as skipper of the Diamondbacks, whom he had in first place in the National League West at the start of the week, hopes he can pass along some wisdom to some of those presently with the Diamondbacks who may someday be in line to become a manager.
Bench coach Jay Bell and first base coach Brett Butler both have a desire manage in the majors, and they might not be too far away from getting a chance at some point.
But Melvin also feels he has a handful of players on his 2005 roster who have the personality and makeup to manage someday. Chief among them are second baseman Craig Counsell and backup first baseman Tony Clark.
"Not only do they watch the game and have a great idea of what's going on out there, they have a big impact in the locker room and they're good people persons. And they're very well respected in the clubhouse."
Melvin also singled out veteran shortstop Royce Clayton and second-year catcher Chris Snyder, saying: "I feel Royce Clayton would make a real good manager. He's a pretty astute guy. He's got quite a bit of awareness of how the game is played, too. We've got a lot of guys. 'Snydes' is another guy. He's still a bit young, but any catcher who's as aware as he is behind the plate certainly runs into the top of the list."
Clayton said managing might interest him and that he began thinking about it while playing for Ned Yost in Milwaukee two years ago.
"He came to me in spring training and said, 'I think you've got a good feel for the game and during the course of the season, I'm going to run some things by you,'" Clayton said. "He was telling me, 'Look, you're out there, you're in the fire, you've got a good pulse about what's going on.' I've been around a lot of different situations, too.
"'BoMel' (Melvin) bounces some things off me, too. That's the biggest thing, I think, is having the ability to communicate to all different types of people. You've got to be well-rounded. You've got Latin players, veteran players, young players, a lot of different things. It's not only ethnicity stuff, but socially, you've got to deal with as a manager."
--Everything that could go wrong just about did for the Diamondbacks on Friday night during an 18-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The sure-handed defense, which was leading the major leagues in fielding percentage, made two errors and a couple of mental mistakes. Starting pitcher Brad Halsey, who had walked only seven batters in his previous six starts, issued four bases on balls, including one to Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis with the bases loaded.
And relief pitchers Kerry Ligtenberg and Javier Lopez each got rocked for five earned runs.
"Well, we've been involved in a ton of close games this year and if you're going to lose one like this, you'd rather have it happen here, at Coors Field," left fielder Luis Gonzalez said.
The 18 runs allowed were the most scored by an Arizona opponent since Colorado pinned 20 runs on the Diamondbacks on Sept. 23, 2003.
--LF Luis Gonzalez is of Cuban descent but said he will pass on playing for Cuba in next spring's World Cup is Cuban baseball officials were to invite him.
"I don't know what the criteria is, I haven't really paid that much attention to it, honestly," Gonzalez said, "but to tell you the truth, I don't really know if I want to because of the whole Fidel Castro situation. Out of respect for my family and for all the other Cubans out there, I don't think I could.
"I probably could (play) if they said I was eligible ... but I don't think I'd want to."
--3B Troy Glaus was scheduled to take an anti-inflammatory injection behind his left knee to help relieve pain brought on by a mild hyperextension suffered last month. Glaus won't start Sunday's game and with the team not playing Monday, he should be fine for the start of a three-game series that begins in Houston on Tuesday.
--Glaus hit his National League-leading 11th home run Friday, which tied him with the Yankees' Alex Rodriquez for the most in the majors.
--RHP Greg Aquino will be slowly worked back into the bullpen once he is able to return from an irritated nerve in his elbow. But once he's back, last year's closer won't be getting his old role. The closing duties belong to RHP Brandon Lyon, who was leading the majors with 13 saves entering Friday's game, and manager Bob Melvin isn't going to tinker with success, saying, "If it ain't broke ..."
--CF Jose Cruz Jr. still can't run very well. His back is still sore from a pinched nerve that kept him on the disabled list for 27 games. But in his third start since being activated, Cruz was sensational in going 3-for-4 with a double and two solo home runs in the Diamondbacks' 6-3 victory over Colorado on Thursday at Coors Field.
And Cruz has never hit well at Coors Field.
In 29 previous at-bats in Denver, Cruz was batting just .103 (3-for-27) with no home runs and a single RBI. He equaled his career hits at the stadium and doubled his RBI production in one night.
"I have no explanation and I don't even want to figure it out," Cruz said. "But I made good contact today and contributed to a victory."
As for his health, Cruz, who is batting .346 after 26 at-bats, is basically in early spring-training form as far as his body goes.
"It feels better today. You get a little sore after the first day (back) ... but there's no way around it," he said. "Today, though, it felt tons better and it's not really as sore, so hopefully it will continue to get better and better and my speed will pick up soon and we'll go from there."
He didn't have to run too much Thursday, except for a double he hit to field. With his two homers, he could take it a little easy around the bases.
"If it's jogging, it's all right," he said.
--1B Tony Clark hit the third pinch-hit home run of his career Thursday in Arizona's 6-3 victory over Colorado. His last pinch-hit homer came on June 5, 2003 vs. Milwaukee while he was playing for the Mets. It was Arizona's first pinch-hit homer since Chad Tracy did it on Sept. 11, 2004 against the Giants.
--RHP Lance Cormier extended his season-opening scoreless streak to 17 innings, one inning shy of the franchise record held by Curt Schilling set from April 2-12, 2002.
--SS Royce Clayton made what manager Bob Melvin said was "one of the best plays I've seen all year" on Thursday when he was able to glove a hard, quick-hop smash grounder by Todd Greene with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a game Arizona was leading, 3-2, and despite getting handcuffed, was able to turn a double play -- Arizona's major league-leading 41st of the season.
"That ball's just not catchable. It rolls by him before he can even get his glove up and he turns it into a double play," Melvin said. "We've been talking about defense all year and in this ballpark, that is the play right there. If he doesn't make that, there's no telling how that inning ends up. You're not going to get a better play than that."
--Manager Bob Melvin wanted to be able to split up the starting catching duties in a fair way and enable both Chris Snyder and Koyie Hill to carry an ample part of the load. The plan was that by doing so, one of the two youngsters would pull away from the other and establish himself as the rightful regular behind the plate.
But it just hasn't happened the way Melvin envisioned, and on Wednesday he announced that Snyder would be getting the lion's share of work, with Hill, for now, serving primarily as the Diamondbacks' backup.
"That doesn't mean that Koyie's not a big part of this thing," Melvin said. "But I'm riding 'Snydes' a little bit right now. ... At some point it could change and when Koyie goes in there, he needs to seize the opportunity."
Arizona hasn't gotten much of anything, offensively, from either catcher. Combined, they had been hitting at a .217 pace and had produced just six RBIs between them, two of which came from Hill, his only two of the season, way back on Opening Day during a 16-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
"I'm fine with it," Hill said. "As much as I want to play, above that I'm a professional. That always comes first, whether you're playing every day or once or twice a week. ... But I understand here in the big leagues, you create your own opportunities and when I get my opportunity, I'm going to try and take advantage of it.
"It doesn't mean everything is set in stone, either."
--In Arizona's first 35 games, 14 were decided by one run and nine by two runs. The Diamondbacks improved to 8-6 in one-run games following Wednesday's 3-2 victory over Washington.
We played quite a few of those in '01 down the stretch," manager Bob Melvin, the bench coach for the Diamondbacks at the time, said of Arizona's World Series season. "We were playing a lot of close games and we were losing tough ones and winning ones, and I think it kind of helped us get through those games in the playoffs."
"I'm not equating this team to that team -- we've got a long way to go -- but I'm saying those kind of games can really build character," Melvin said. "If you play quite a few of them it kind of makes you battled-tested later on in the season. And we have certainly played our share."
--RHP Javier Vazquez is 4-0 in his past five starts, posting a 1.89 ERA and a .229 opponent batting average during that span. He has not issued a walk in his past three outings, spanning 23 outings.
--LHP Randy Choate, who was designated for assignment earlier this month, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Tucson.
BY THE NUMBERS: 360 -- At-bats between home runs by Craig Counsell, who hit a solo homer off Jason Jennings at Coors Field on Sunday in a 5-4 victory over the Rockies. His previous home run came last June 5, while playing for the Brewers.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He has adapted. He doesn't like it. He wants to play every day, and I don't blame him. That's what I tell our guys, too, is I don't want you to be happy on the bench. I want you to come to the park wanting to play. I don't want you to lose that passion for it." -- Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin on Alex Cintron, a starter most of last season at shortstop and second base, who is learning about life on the bench in 2005.
RHP Oscar Villarreal, slight tear in rotator cuff, 15-day DL.
RHP Greg Aquino, irritated ulnar nerve, 15-day DL.
Check out more of what Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman had to say about Thursday night's game…