The D'Backs Inside Pitch
Should this man be an All Star?
Should this man be an All Star?

Posted Jun 17, 2005


Inside the Inside Pitch you'll find Jeff Moorad talking about the bullpen, Bob Melvin talking about Tony Clark spending three days in Detroit, the bullpen talking about blowing up and injuries taking their toll.

He doesn't have nearly enough plate appearances, but if he did, the Diamondbacks are convinced pinch-hitter extraordinaire Tony Clark would deserve a trip to the All-Star Game next month in Detroit, where the 6-foot-7 backup first baseman got his start.

"Does he deserve it? Absolutely," manager Bob Melvin said. "All I can tell you he's had as big an impact on this team as anybody here."

Clark has been picking up extra at-bats lately thanks to interleague play, which continues for the Diamondbacks Friday through Sunday at Jacobs Field against the Cleveland Indians.

Clark was Arizona's designated hitter for all three games the club played this week in Chicago against the White Sox and will likely get two more DH assignments and one start at first base this weekend against the Indians.

"I don't see any reason to take him out of there," Melvin said.

Clark, who turned 33 on Wednesday, is 43-for-121 and on his birthday, he hit his 11th home run of the season, the second most on the team behind only Troy Glaus (16). Clark has one more homer than both Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green, who have twice the number of at-bats as Clark -- Gonzalez 244 and Green 242.

"He's been unbelievable, man," Gonzalez said. "If he had the plate appearances, you could make a case for him going to the All-Star Game. I mean, just look at his numbers for a guy who doesn't play every day."

"It would probably be unprecedented, but he's very deserving," added Green. "I'd take him on my All-Star team any day."

Clark, who with 11 pinch hits and 13 pinch-hit RBIs, is on track to shatter Arizona single-season records in those categories - 19 hits, 16 RBIs - is taking his first-half  success in stride.

"I'm thankful for my health, for the contributions I've been able to make early on in the year, and for the opportunity to get them," he said, "but I've been around long enough to know that the results are something I can't control.

NOTES, QUOTES
--The G-Force of Luis Gonzalez, Troy Glaus and Shawn Green led the way for the second straight night on Tuesday as Arizona pinned another loss on the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The trio accounted for two homers and 8 RBIs one night after they each homered in the same game for the first time all season and drove in five runs.

Glaus was particularly effective Tuesday, driving in four runs with a solo homer, his 16th, two RBI singles and a run-scoring sacrifice fly, just his second of the year.

"The thing that impresses me the most about Troy, not just the home runs, is driving the ball the other way with runners in scoring position, taking RBIs where they come and not leaving any opportunities out there," Diamondbacks shortstop Royce Clayton said.

Green, who also hit a homer, his ninth and his fifth in a week, said Arizona is starting to rediscover its groove after a recent slide in which it went 3-9.

"They're one of the best teams in baseball," he said of the White Sox, "so to win the first two games of the series is big. We're in a pennant race just like they are, so we're going to come back out and try to win tomorrow, too."

--By taking the series with the White Sox, the Diamondbacks recorded their first series victory in six opportunities -- their first since winning two of three at Detroit on May 22.

--Manager Bob Melvin said he would like to see Major League Baseball flip-flop where the designated hitter is used in future interleague games, which commissioner Bud Selig said is under advisement. Melvin spent the past two seasons managing the Seattle Mariners but prefers the National League game.

"I think that's a good idea. I really do, because I think in cities where you play it, you see that type of game all the time and I think it's a good idea to flip flop," Melvin said. "... That, or just the play the National League game in every city."

--SS Stephen Drew was named the California League's Offensive Player of the Week after hitting .417 with four multi-hit games, 10 runs scored, two home runs and eight RBIs in his first six games at Class A Lancaster, but has been placed on the DL after injuring his hamstring Tuesday.

--An upset stomach and the stuffy humidity of Chicago wasn't enough to derail Shawn Estes on Monday, and the left-hander actually pitched as if he were in perfect health and in picturesque playing conditions.

Estes threw an eight-hit complete game in an 8-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field to help Arizona open a 10-game trip. It was the 13th complete game in Estes' career and his first since Sept. 24, 2003 against Cincinnati.

"I kept hydrated all game, which really helped, and I didn't have any real stressful innings," said Estes, who threw 108 pitches, 73 for strikes. He didn't walk a batter and had five strikeouts.

Estes' performance gave Arizona's beleaguered bullpen a much-needed day off. The relievers have been burdened with much of the blame for the club's recent series of misfortunes and to not have to tap into the pen at all was a huge relief for manager Bob Melvin.

The Diamondbacks are busy working the phones trying to bring in some established, veteran help in one form or another. General Manager Joe Garagiola Jr. spoke with two or three clubs before the game and has been seeking help for several days now.

Arizona isn't looking for a veteran just for change's sake, however. If it makes a deal, it will be for a difference-maker out of the pen -- and not necessarily a closer, either -- but someone who is as close to automatic as possible. And the Diamondbacks appear willing to give up some serious talent in return, if the right pitcher becomes available.

Presently, the club is weighing its options on whether to go after a player it will be renting for the rest of the season, or someone who could become a long-time fixture in the pen.

--The Diamondbacks' three home runs off Jose Contreras in the second inning Monday -- hit by Chris Snyder, Luis Gonzalez and Troy Glaus -- tied the franchise record for most in an inning, which now has been accomplished 11 times, including once earlier this season.

--RF Shawn Green was named the NL Player of the Week after leading the league with 28 total bases and five doubles and being tied for the league lead this past week with 12 hits, nine runs scored and 12 RBI. Green also homered on Monday, his eighth of the season and his fourth in the past four days.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if he keeps this going for a while," manager Bob Melvin said.

--OF Quinton McCracken started in CF on Monday for Jose Cruz Jr. It was McCracken's first start since May 19 in Houston.

--The supposed easy answer to the problems dogging the Diamondbacks' bullpen backfired right in their face Sunday when Greg Aquino, last year's closer to end the year, surrendered five runs in his first appearance since Opening Day and made Arizona's relief corps only that much more up in arms following a 9-4 loss in 12 innings to the visiting Kansas City Royals.

Aquino, who had been bothered by an irritated ulnar nerve in his right elbow and had been on the disabled list since a similar pitching performance in a 16-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on April 4, was forced to enter Sunday's game in the 12th inning when the game was still tied at 3 and manager Bob Melvin had already called on three other relievers. Aquino was activated before the game, and right-hander Edgar Gonzalez was sent back to Triple-A Tucson.

It wasn't the situation the Diamondbacks had envisioned for Aquino right off the bat, and it could have set him back in a devastating way. Aquino retired only one batter, the opposing pitcher on a foul bunt attempt. He hit the first batter, allowed two RBI singles, balked in a run and walked one.

"It's not ideal, but we really didn't have any other options," Melvin said.

Gonzalez made only one appearance following his call-up, which had sent right-hander Mike Koplove to Tucson. But Gonzalez, who was 6-1 as a starter with the Sidewinders, showed little command and confidence in a brief outing upon his recall.

Since Aquino was coming off the 60-day disabled list, the club also had to clear a spot on the 40-man roster and did so by switching RHP Brandon Lyon to the 60-day disabled list. He won't be able to return until July 12, at the earliest, putting the Diamondbacks into an even worse situation.

--UT Alex Cintron suffered sprained his left wrist on a checked swing Saturday and was day-to-day.

--Arizona withdrew its protest from Saturday's loss to the Royals after concluding there was no misinterpretation of the rule when third base umpire Greg Gibson changed his call from what looked to be a lineout by Alex Cintron to a dropped ball, which froze two Arizona baserunners and resulted in an easy double play by the Royals during a potential big inning.

The Diamondbacks had runners on first and second in the eighth inning Saturday when Cintron hit a line drive to Royals third baseman Mark Teahen, who appeared to make a diving catch. Gibson signaled Cintron out, and the baseunners retreated to tag up. But when Teahen hit the ground, the ball rolled out and Gibson changed the call.

 "It's one of those deals where it falls in between the crack," manager Bob Melvin said. "He called it a little early, but he ended up getting it right."

--Arizona signed recent draft picks Greg Smith, a left-handed pitcher out of Louisiana State (their sixth-round pick) and Travis Tuffy, an oufielder from the University of Houston (23rd-round pick). Arizona has been in negotiations with its No. 1 overall selection, Virginia high school shortstop Justin Upton, but the club can't formally sign him until after Upton graduates from Great Bridge High School on Thursday.

--1B Tony Clark hit his 200th home run on Saturday.

--2B Craig Counsell has matched his personal-best single-season home run total of four, which he first accomplished with Arizona in 2001 during its World Series championship season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Hits allowed by left-hander Brad Halsey in his past two starts after allowing just 73 hits in his first 11 starts and going 4-2 with five no-decisions.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're not afraid to make a move." -- Diamondbacks general partner Jeff Moorad, when asked to explain what Arizona plans to do with its slumping bullpen.



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