Alex Cintron never really got the chance to be more than an insurance policy with the Diamondbacks. …
Melvin Watches Drew Closely
If Craig Counsell isn't ready to start the season because of the "slap" tear in the labrum of his right shoulder, utility man Damion Easley would get the starting assignment at shortstop.
But that could change. Especially if rookie Stephen Drew keeps turning heads in camp.
Drew figures to start the season at Triple-A Tucson, but if Counsell remains sidelined indefinitely, he likely would be recalled after a week or so and be inserted into the lineup full-time.
"If Stephen were here, he'd play," manager Bob Melvin said when asked what his options would be at short if Counsell is sidelined longer than expected. "If he's here on this team, he plays. It comes down to the Counsell situation."
Counsell hasn't played in any games this spring since being diagnosed with the torn labrum on March 1. He's been taking groundballs but isn't throwing and isn't taking batting practice. The plan, assuming he can strengthen the muscles around the area and proceed in time, is to ease him back into game situations and see how he responds.
But surgery still might be an option at some point, and if it were to come to that, Counsell would be lost for the season. With that in mind, the Diamondbacks are giving Drew, who turns 23 on March 16, a closer look than perhaps they had envisioned.
He has looked confident and rather efficient in the field and, offensively, was 4 for 10 with a home run and three RBIs after his first four games.
"He's a natural, an absolute natural at his position," Melvin gushed. "He has all the action down very well. You can see he has ball sense. He knows how to play guys, when guys are off a little too far. Instinctively, he gets over there."
Melvin was just as impressed with Drew's ability to be sharp and productive after taking a few days off to rest a bruised left shoulder, which he hurt while sliding hard into a bag.
"He just goes right back at it," the manager said. "He's got one of those swings similar to (Chad) Tracy in that it just plays anytime. Christmas Day or January 15th, he goes up there and tracks the ball very well. He doesn't panic. He doesn't get out on his right foot too much. He's letting the ball travel.
"It's pretty impressive for a kid his age."
--RHP Brandon Medders (strained muscle near right scapula) played catch in Tucson on Friday, and if he doesn't experience any discomfort, he will stretch it to long toss during the next few days before the team decides when he is ready to throw a bullpen session on the side. Medders, a candidate for a late inning spot in the 'pen, hasn't appeared in any Cactus League games to this point.
--OF Jeff DaVanon will be the primary backup outfielder at all three positions, manager Bob Melvin said. Initially, there was talk of perhaps DaVanon splitting time in center with Eric Byrnes, but Melvin indicated Byrnes will get most of the starts, at least early in the season.
--1B Conor Jackson is getting extra reps during games in an effort to help him get a little more comfortable defensively. "I'm trying to get him out there as much as we can to give him an extra at-bat and an extra inning or two. And he wants it," manager Bob Melvin said.
Melvin wanted to do the same thing with 3B Chad Tracy, who is back at third after playing first base and right field last season, but Tracy's defense hasn't been an issue thus far in camp. "He's settled in and is very comfortable there right now," Melvin said. "He's made a nice play almost every single game, and he's been aggressive going after balls. It really looks like he hasn't missed a beat over there."
--The trade of SS Alex Cintron to the White Sox for RH reliever Jeff Bajenaru has opened the door for utility man Andy Green to grab a roster spot as one of the club's five bench players. He can play second, third and shortstop and also left field. Arizona's bench on Opening Day probably looks like this: 1B Tony Clark, INF/OF Damion Easley, OF Jeff DaVanon, C Chris Snyder and Green.
With OF Luis Terrero out of options, it appears he will be the new odd man out and probably will be traded at some point this spring.
--Triple-A Tucson manager Chip Hale will join the Diamondbacks on Saturday and handle coaching duties at third base as Carlos Tosca recuperates from a fractured right foot. Tosca is expected to be out of action for four weeks. First base coach Lee Tinsley had been coaching third since Tosca was injured by a line-drive foul ball off the bat of Arizona's Eric Byrnes. Former major leaguer Will Clark, an assistant to general partner Jeff Moorad and a spring training instructor, handled first base coaching duties on Friday during a game against the Brewers.
--SS Justin Upton's development hasn't been detailed by the Diamondbacks, who aren't saying whether he will start the year at Class A South Bend and stay there indefinitely or be allowed to rise up through the minors as his ability dictates.
"So far (baseball operations) has been right on with everything they've done," manager Bob Melvin said. "You may want to settle him in at a place at some point and let him continue to have success. When you move around, there's different ballparks and you're playing against older guys and it's almost like a start-over effect."
BY THE NUMBERS: .396 -- The Diamondbacks' team batting average after their first nine spring training games. Arizona jumped out to an 8-1 start and was 141 for 356 at the plate, best in the majors. The next closest team batting average was the Royals at .333 -- a full 63 points behind the Snakes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's got a palm ball. He's got one that cuts, one that sinks. It's like watching a guy throw a Wiffle ball game in the backyard. He can break out everything and you don't know what to expect because every pitch has a speed variance, a shape variance and different action. It's fun to watch." -- Pitching coach Bryan Price on Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.
MEDICAL WATCH: CF Chris Young (broken bone in right hand) underwent surgery and is expected to miss the bulk of spring training. C Johnny Estrada has recovered nicely from a bad concussion suffered last season in a home plate collision with the Angels' Darin Erstad. LF Luis Gonzalez is close to 100 percent following Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in 2004. OF Scott Hairston (shoulder surgery) should be cleared in time for spring training. 2B Orlando Hudson (foot) is healthy. SS Craig Counsell (small labrum tear) is out at least 10 days but shouldn't need surgery.
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