Arizona Diamondbacks Roster Report

Edgar Gonzalez (John Miller/AP)

The #4 starter has been named, and it wasn't one of the favorites entering the spring. ALSO: An injury update on Carlos Quentin, starting lineup possibilities, and what an inconsistent spring could mean for rookie Doug Slaten.

ROSTER REPORT:

The Diamondbacks might be young, but their youth is top-notch and the team is anchored by a solid starting rotation that measures up just fine against an overall improved National League West. There isn't a ton of power on the team, but the Diamondbacks believe there will be strength in numbers. Manager Bob Melvin improved his staff with the offseason hiring of bench coach Kirk Gibson and batting coach Kevin Seitzer.

ROTATION:
1. RHP Brandon Webb
2. LHP Randy Johnson
3. RHP Livan Hernandez
4. LHP Doug Davis
5. RHP Edgar Gonzalez


Webb is coming off a Cy Young Award season in which he finally has emerged as a legitimate star. His sinkerball is the best in baseball, and even though hitters know it's coming, they don't have much success. Now he's added a changeup that he's throwing more often in counts, further stymieing batters.

Johnson is coming off back surgery, but he has made steady strides in spring training during a rehab program that saw no setbacks of any kind. The 43-year-old will start the season on the disabled list, but he'll be ready at some point in April and could provide a solid season if he stays healthy.

Hernandez and Davis are durable, 200-plus-innings pitchers, but there are questions at the back end.  Edgar Gonzalez has been named as the #4 starter after a terrific spring, but is unproven.  Other youngsters such as RHP Enrique Gonzalez and LHP Dana Eveland could get serious looks as interim #5 starters, along with the likes of top prospects Dustin Nippert and Micah Owings at some point.

BULLPEN:
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Brandon Lyon
RHP Tony Pena
RHP Brandon Medders
LHP Doug Slaten
RHP Juan Cruz
LHP Dana Eveland

Valverde gets another chance to nail down the closer's role, which he hasn't been able to do in the past due to inconsistency. This will be his last chance, however. The team has faith in him, but it won't be overly patient with him and would turn to Lyon or Pena, who is likely to be groomed for the position, if Valverde endures a meltdown of any significance.

Behind them, there is depth in hard-throwing right-handers such as Cruz and Medders. Slaten offers a luxury manager Bob Melvin didn't have last season, a left-handed specialist, and Eveland, if he doesn't make the rotation, gives Melvin a lefty in long relief. That's where Edgar Gonzalez can also offer help, if he doesn't crack the rotation. He is out of minor league options, which could make things interesting as camp breaks.

LINEUP:
1. SS Stephen Drew
2. 2B Orlando Hudson
3. 3B Chad Tracy
4. LF Eric Byrnes
5. RF Carlos Quentin
6. 1B Conor Jackson
7. CF Chris Young
8. C Chris Snyder


Manager Bob Melvin has so many available options, he likely will mix and match his batting order on a daily basis. That might spell trouble on some teams, but the Diamondbacks are young enough that it shouldn't be a problem. The players say they don't care where they hit, and they're believable in their words.

SS Stephen Drew has impressed manager Bob Melvin in the leadoff spot, and although a handful of players may be used there from time to time, including CF Chris Young, LF Eric Byrnes and 2B Orlando Hudson, Drew could hit there a lot after not being viewed as a potential candidate early in spring by Melvin.

"The only thing I've found is he can acclimate to any spot in the order," Melvin said. "Originally, I was a little apprehensive about using him in the leadoff spot, but I've come to grips that he can be a horse there as well."

There isn't a big bopper in the bunch, but there could be a handful of players who hit 20 to 25 homers, and there's more speed in the lineup than ever before, with Drew, Byrnes, Young and Hudson offering prime threats. Quentin has a small labrum tear in his left, non-throwing shoulder which could force him to open the year on the disabled list. Should that occur, Byrnes would move to right field and Scott Hairston would be the club's new left fielder. Hairston is out of minor league options, but he is big-league-ready at the plate and has been waiting for a chance to prove himself.

Young might be the player to watch out of the entire group. He's a five-tool player who could take the game by storm if he performs up to expectations. The ceiling is endless. Drew has already settled in as a slick defender and confident pro. He'll just need to stay healthy to have a long and productive career.

RESERVES:
1B Tony Clark
C Miguel Montero
INF Alberto Callaspo
OF Scott Hairston
OF Dave Krynzel


Clark had a disappointing 2006 season after a superb 2005, although a shoulder injury might have been to blame. Montero will be molded into an everyday starter at some point, though he will split time with Snyder. Callaspo was coveted by dozens of teams in the offseason and probably could start for many other clubs, but here, he's behind the likes of Orlando Hudson, Stephen Drew and Chad Tracy. He'll get plenty of at-bats this season, however, and can play anywhere, including the outfield. A switch hitter who rarely strikes out, he could have a breakout season in a non-starting role.

OF Jeff DaVanon will start the year on the disabled list, as he was slow to recovery from left ankle and right shoulder surgeries in the fall. But at some point, the switch hitter will be back on the bench as the club's primary extra outfielder. Like Hairston, Krynzel is out of minor league options, and when DaVanon returns, the team may try to slip him through waivers.

ROOKIE WATCH: LHP Doug Slaten seemed like a lock to make the 25-man roster as the club's left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, but he had an up-and-down spring training for the most part and will have to be near flawless to stay. C Miguel Montero is a top-notch prospect who has a big fan in manager Bob Melvin. He'll get his starts and his share of at-bats, but it could be another year before he becomes established in the lineup. OF Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, made his second major league spring camp and continued to impress management and the coaching staff. Though only 19, he's hoping he can reach the majors this season. It will be at least another year, however, until he's realistically close to challenging for a spot.

MEDICAL WATCH: LHP Randy Johnson (back surgery in October to repair a herniated disk) has met every timetable in his ongoing rehab program and looked good in his first "B" game on March 24. He is expected to make his season debut sometime in April and eventually will be slotted behind RHP Brandon Webb in the rotation.

OF Jeff DaVanon (left ankle, right shoulder surgery) was slowed during spring training, unable to effectively run or hit from the left side of the plate. He will start the season on the disabled list. Eventually, he will get the at-bats he missed in spring training during a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson.

RF Carlos Quentin (slight labrum tear in his left, non-throwing shoulder) might start the season on the disabled list. Surgery is not being considered, and a strengthening program should allow him to get back in time and not miss too much action. He was crushing the ball in Cactus League games, carrying a .357 batting average through 11 games before taking an awkward swing in a March 16 game against Oakland. His slugging percentage was .821, and his 10 RBIs were tied for the team lead at the time.  If Quentin isn't ready for Opening Day, LF Eric Byrnes would start in right and Scott Hairston would start for Byrnes in left, manager Bob Melvin said.

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