Arizona Diamondbacks: Young, but Clutch

One of the biggest misconceptions in baseball relates to young players not being able to perform well in clutch situations. Rookies may not have experience in pressure situations at the major league level, but if a player does not step up with the game on the line in high school, college, and the minors, then that player never even makes the majors to begin with.

INSIDE PITCH

The Diamondbacks are the second-youngest team in the majors behind the Devil Rays, but that doesn't mean they can't play.

They improved to 7-2 on Tuesday thanks to their sixth consecutive victory, and one of their many young faces, left fielder Scott Hairston, was the hero. Hairston hit a game-winning RBI double off the center field wall with two outs in the 11th to lift Arizona to a 5-4 win over visiting Cincinnati.

"I don't consider Scotty a young player," said third baseman Chad Tracy, who hit a three-run homer, his first, in the first inning. "He's been up here before. He knows what to do. He's a great hitter."

But Hairston expected to be dealt in the offseason because he is out of minor league options and was fifth or sixth on the outfield depth chart entering spring training. But with a shoulder injury to right fielder Carlos Quentin, Eric Byrnes had to move from left to right, and with extra outfielder Jeff DaVanon also on the disabled list, Hairston won the starting job in left to open the season.

"It's been great, especially being around the guys I came up with," said Hairston, who made his major league debut in 2004. "We're winning and we're putting together great at-bats and we're performing like we know we can do, and I think it's a beautiful thing."

Hairston, hitting .290 after nine games, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to help Arizona win its home opener against the Reds on Monday. It was only the second time at this level he's been asked to bunt.

"You do what you have to do to win," said Hairston, normally a No. 4 or 5 hitter. On Tuesday, he hit in the seventh spot.

He'll likely move around manager Bob Melvin's lineup, as the third-year skipper plans to use a revolving door of combinations throughout the year given that he has no true leadoff man or cleanup hitter.

That's another interesting item about an interestingly young team.

"We're all coming together," Hairston said. "We're getting good hitting and good pitching, and we know what we can do. We showed that in spring training. We come out with high energy and a lot of confidence, and we know we can be real competitive."

DIAMONDBACKS 5, REDS 4 (11 innings): Scott Hairston's walk-off RBI double with two outs scored Conor Jackson from first and the Diamondbacks extended their winning streak to six games on Tuesday night at Chase Field. Arizona, which isn't expected to produce much home run power this season, scored its first four runs of the game off homers, as Chad Tracy hit a three-run shot and Chris Snyder added a solo homer before Hairston's big hit off David Weathers.

NOTES, QUOTES

--CF Chris Young didn't start for the second consecutive games because of a left groin strain, but manager Bob Melvin said Young could be back in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against Cincinnati. "There's a chance where we run him through the off day (Thursday) if we're real cautious. We'll see," Melvin said.

--RF Carlos Quentin, who started the season on the disabled list, will get three at-bats Wednesday during extended spring training in Tucson, Ariz., and then likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment with the Triple-A team there this weekend. Quentin's biggest hurdle, other than regaining his timing against big league pitching, will be his ability to mentally handle one of the high, awkward swings that may have led to the small labrum tear in his left shoulder.

--RHP Micah Owings makes his second career start Tuesday. In his major league debut last week, he threw a one-hit shutout through five innings at Washington and earned the victory. Manager Bob Melvin doesn't expect the rookie to be nervous in making his first start at home.

"I don't know if nerves really were an issue with him the other day," Melvin said. "I know there was some excitement, but once he got into the flow of the game, it was just another game for him, and that's what he's been able to do at every level he's been at.

"The guy's just a winner."

--LHP Doug Davis credited pitching coach Bryan Price for pointing out that he was getting too long in his delivery during Monday's game against the Reds, when it looked as if Davis might get hit hard because he kept falling behind in the count.

"He said to work on it during my eight warm-up pitches (entering the fifth inning), so I worked on it and I started feeling right again," Davis said. "I had two quick innings, just 16 pitches in both of them, and that's more Doug Davis than the guy falling behind in counts and everything else."

--2B Orlando Hudson collected his major league-leading sixth multi-hit game of the season Tuesday, going 2-for-4 in a 5-4 win over the Reds in 11 innings. Hudson is batting .349 (15-for-43) with two homers and seven RBIs in his career against Cincinnati.


MEDICAL WATCH:

CF Chris Young (groin) was held out of the lineup April 9-10 as a precaution. He is day-to-day.

LHP Randy Johnson (back surgery in October to repair a herniated disk) is expected to make his Diamondbacks season debut around April 17, 18 or April 19.

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 started the season on the disabled list.

RF Carlos Quentin (slight labrum tear in his left, non-throwing shoulder) started the season on the disabled list. He could begin a rehab assignment with Class AAA Tucson the weekend of April 13-15.

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