The Diamondbacks are expecting big things out of young right fielder Carlos Quentin this season. And "big" doesn't just include offensive numbers and impeccable defense. It also means big as in bruises. Loads of them. During his three seasons in the minor leagues, Quentin led his league in being hit by pitches three times. In fact, he has been plunked 103 times since 2004.
In 57 games for the Diamondbacks last season as a rookie, he was hit an additional eight times, good enough for second-most on the club despite getting 206 fewer at-bats than Craig Counsell (who was hit nine times) and 319 fewer at-bats than Conor Jackson (who also was hit nine times).
"I'm guessing there's a good chance he's going to lead our team for years to come in that category," manager Bob Melvin said toward the end of last season. "The numbers have been staggering to see how many times he's been hit.
"But that's part of his game -- and part of his on-base percentage."
Quentin, 24, who was hit 31 times in 85 games last season while at Triple-A Tucson, will be Arizona's starting right fielder after hitting .253 with 25 extra-base hits in 166 at-bats last season for the Diamondbacks.
And no, he doesn't plan to back off the plate or change his approach as he gets ready to settle into his first full-time job in the majors. Not even the threat of getting hit as often as he did in 2004, when he was plunked 43 times between Lancaster and El Paso en route to setting a single-season, minor league record, will make him flinch.
"The good thing about it is, it gets you on base and you can score runs, which is the name of the game," said the former first-round pick out of Stanford. "The bad side of it is, it doesn't feel too good. But it's just something you've got to do. I just try to make sure I protect my hands."
Quentin doesn't wear any body armor or protection for his arms or elbows, though that is something Melvin has said he may ask Quentin to consider in 2007. Melvin said it will be strictly up to Quentin, however.
"He doesn't wear anything, but what's the point?" Melvin said. "He gets hit everywhere -- the arms, the hands, the back, the legs. We'll certainly go the extra yard to get these guys whatever they need, but again, it comes down to whether they're comfortable."
Quentin tried wearing extra protection in the past, but he shed it quickly because he felt it interfered with his swing. But as the hit-by-pitches start adding up in 2007, will he change his mind?
"It's hard to say," he said. "I might. I just have to protect my hands. Usually, your back is an open spot, but you can usually deal with that. Who's to say I won't (wear extra padding)? But I haven't just because I don't like the way it feels when I swing.
"They made me do it when I was younger, but I wasn't comfortable with it."
No, he's more comfortable with bruises. Loads of them.
--OF Alex Romero, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins, likely will start the season at Triple-A Tucson. Romero, 23, split time last season between Triple-A Rochester and Double-A New Britain, batting .263 with 19 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 42 RBIs in 119 games.
Romero becomes the 39th player to join the 40-man roster. He will join Diamondbacks position players when they report to camp on Feb. 21.
--OF Carlos Gonzalez, whom many insiders believe to be the top outfield prospect in the organization, upped his average to .289 in the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs and was leading Aquilas del Zulia with 10 RBIs.
--OF Eric Byrnes and the Diamondbacks were $750,000 apart in arbitration negotiations. Byrnes was seeking $5 million. "There's a lot of information that goes into arbitration, things we point to, things the other side points to," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Sometimes, a compromise is made easily. Sometimes, it isn't."
--The Diamondbacks promoted Shaun Rachau to vice president, communications and Mike McNally to director, player and media relations.
--Actor/comedian Billy Crystal, an investor in the Diamondbacks since their inception, recently took infield and batting practice at nearby Arizona State University with the Sun Devils' baseball team. Crystal spent several days in the Valley appearing in his "700 Sundays with Billy Crystal" one-man show at ASU's Gammage Auditorium.
BY THE NUMBERS: .192 -- Combined batting average (41-for-214) by minor league opponents off LHP Doug Slaten in 2006. Slaten, who will battle for a bullpen spot with the Diamondbacks, limited left-handed hitters to a .156 average (12-for-77) and right-handed hitters to a .212 average (29-for-137).
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He has done some Herculean things in this organization. And Hercules had his best years when he was 43, 44, 45 and 46." -- Manager Bob Melvin on 43-year-old Randy Johnson, who returns to the
Diamondbacks following two seasons with the Yankees.
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