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
--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
"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.