Baseball is never far from Scott Hairston's mind. A third-generation
professional player, the game has become the lifeblood of his spirit. But a
month into his offseason, which he has spent golfing and playing with his infant
son, Hairston has had to let baseball disappear a bit from his consciousness.
That's because he appears to have reached the crossroads of his career -- at
least with the Diamondbacks -- at the ripe old age of 26. His immediate future
is uncertain, and thinking about it doesn't help.
A second baseman converted into a left fielder the past two years, it was
thought Hairston was being groomed to replace Luis Gonzalez in the Arizona
outfield. But a dislocated left shoulder, caused by getting hit by a pitch of
all things, wiped out the second half of his 2005 season with Triple-A Tucson
and ruined a chance for a late-season recall.
Another shoulder injury this year, which happened in his first game upon being
recalled from Tucson on June 19, set him back again. He rebounded and hit .323
in the Pacific Coast League with 20 home runs, eventually making it back to the
But when word hit that Gonzalez would not be invited back next season and that
center fielder Eric Byrnes would take over in left next season, it left Hairston
in limbo, where he remains today. Chris Young will start in center field, Carlos
Quinton will start in right, and with Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson expected
to sign a multiyear contract extension, Hairston can forget about returning to
Jeff DaVanon will return as the club's fourth outfielder, making Hairston a
likely candidate to be traded, perhaps in a package deal to bring in another
starting pitcher the Diamondbacks so desperately need.
"I really don't know what's going to happen," Hairston said, "but I feel at this
point, if they wanted me in their plans, they would communicate better with me.
Sometimes, I get the feeling that maybe they just don't know what they want to
do with me."
Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin has said Hairston is ready to play in the majors
on an everyday basis, but he had to give the politically correct prediction.
"There's going to be a spot for Scotty, whether it's here or somewhere else, if
he continues to swing the bat the way he is," Melvin said. "We all know he can
hit in the big leagues. It's just a matter of being patient and not getting too
frustrated with the fact he hasn't been at the big-league level for a consistent
period of time."
Hairston said he isn't worried, that if he doesn't return to the Diamondbacks,
he will get his opportunity elsewhere.
"There are a lot of other teams out there," he said. "I think I've put myself in
a good position for next year. It's just basically up to the Diamondbacks to
decide if they want me or not. That's it. It's not my choice.
"But I'll be OK, whatever happens. I'll be playing baseball, just like always."
Hairston is the ninth member of his family to play pro baseball. His
grandfather, Sam, was a star in the Negro Leagues with Cincinnati and
Indianapolis. His father, Jerry, played for 14 seasons with the White Sox, and
his brother, Jerry Jr., is also a major-leaguer. In addition, his uncle, John,
played for the Cubs in 1969 and another uncle and three cousins also played in
the minor leagues.
--Area scout Greg Lonigro has been promoted to East Coast supervisor. Fellow
area scouts Fred Costello and Steve Kmetko will not return.
--RHP Ross Ohlendorf heads a short list of prospects in the organization who
potentially won't have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect them from the
Rule 5 draft. Baseball's new labor agreement has significantly changed the
protection process, meaning Arizona is less apt to lose a top-caliber player the
way it did 2B Dan Uggla to the Marlins.
--Bill Plummer, who recently completed his 20th season as a manager -- the past
five in the Diamondbacks' system -- was expected to be named manager of
Arizona's Triple-A affiliate in Tucson. He would replace Chip Hale, who has been
added to the major league staff in a role yet to be determined. Plummer managed
Double-A Tennessee in 2006.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Times RF Carlos Quentin was hit by a pitch in 166 at-bats
for the Diamondbacks. 9 -- Times 1B Conor Jackson and SS Craig Counsell were hit
by pitches, leading the team. Jackson had 485 at-bats, Counsell 372 at-bats. 31
-- Times Quentin was hit by a pitch in 2006 during 318 at-bats with Triple-A
Tucson, establishing a Pacific Coast League record.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "For a free swinger, I guess it compensates for him not walking a
lot." -- OF Eric Byrnes on rookie RF Carlos Quentin's penchant for getting hit
1B Tony Clark, who had right shoulder surgery, should be fine by the time the
team reports to spring training. He has one more year left on his contract.
OF Jeff DaVanon underwent surgery to repair a left ankle injury, and he will be
ready in time for spring training. He has a player option to return to the club
in 2007, and has indicated he plans to exercise it. He also had a cyst removed
from his right shoulder late in the season.