Diamondbacks Report: Corner Infield Logjam
Tony Clark (Chris Carlson/AP)

Posted Jun 11, 2007


Chad Tracy is back, and manager Bob Melvin now faces some interesting decisions on how to get various bats into his lineup. Also, Alberto Callaspo gets duped, Randy Johnson rests his back, and Jalien Peguero impresses in his debut.

INSIDE PITCH

Chad Tracy is back. Mark Reynolds is staying. And the Diamondbacks still have two first basemen in Conor Jackson and Tony Clark.

That's four players for two infield spots, as Tracy and Reynolds figure to split some time at third base upon Tracy's return from a rib cage strain. The incumbent, Tracy, took over for Reynolds on Sunday in a series finale against visiting Boston and, although he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, he still is considered one of the best pure hitters in the organization.

But Reynolds, despite a recent slump, has shown more than enough to keep him on the active roster and how manager Bob Melvin plans to keep both of them involved could be fairly interesting.

Tracy took a turn at first for Jackson late in his first game back for Arizona, and that's a spot Reynolds has played as well in the minors. Melvin has stressed that neither Tracy or Reynolds would likely unseat Jackson -- or Clark -- at first base.

But you have to wonder: With four quality corner infielders, somebody might have to go. It could very well be Clark, who would be a welcome addition to several teams as a power-hitting pinch hitter, a role he has defined in his recent years with strong results.

The Diamondbacks granted Clark a no-trade clause in his last contract extension, however, which could complicate matters. Especially because Clark has been a longtime Phoenix-area resident and would seem to prefer to live in the immediate area, where he is building a new home and has several charity endeavors.

Nothing has been mentioned publicly about a possible trade scenario for any of the above corner infielders, but it doesn't make Melvin's job any easier, for certain.

"You want to keep everybody involved, yet you still have to run your best lineup out there," Melvin said. "Someone gets their feelings hurt because they're not playing much, that could be the bad part of it."

DIAMONDBACKS 5, RED SOX 1: Arizona avoided a three-game sweep by the visiting Red Sox, making their first regular-season visit to Chase Field, and another loud crowd of 46,622 was on hand for a super-hyped pitching matchup between veteran lefty Randy Johnson and Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Both pitchers shared similar lines; each allowed four hits and struck out nine batters over six innings. Johnson, however, who improved to 4-2, allowed one fewer run and got a little more offense as the Diamondbacks kept pace with San Diego at the top of the NL West standings.

"I don't know if that was his best game, but I had to throw my best game, or at least match zeros with him," Johnson, who won his fourth straight and improved to 16-7 against Boston, said of Matsuzaka.

INSIDE EDGE: As long as the Diamondbacks remain at or near the top of the National League West Division, there are going to be pointed questions directed to management about the future of impending free agent OF Eric Byrnes, and it won't go over well. Byrnes has emerged into an easy fan favorite, the perfect replacement for the longtime face of the franchise, Luis Gonzalez, but there doesn't seem to be any rush for management to pitch a contract extension for the popular Byrnes, who's never had such a deal. He may never get it here, and if he doesn't, there will be an outrage, to be sure, from season-ticket holders and on the local sports-talk radio circuit.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LHP Randy Johnson, who improved to 4-2 on Sunday in his eighth start for Arizona, will not accompany the club to New York on Monday to rest his back. Johnson, 43, underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in late October and will meet the club instead in Baltimore.

--UT Robby Hammock was optioned to Class AAA Tucson on Sunday to make room on the roster for 3B Chad Tracy, who was activated from the disabled list because of a rib-cage strain. Tracy went 0 for 4 and is hitting .299 on the year.

--RHP Jailen Peguero made his major league debut for Arizona on Friday, pitching a perfect inning in a relief role against the Red Sox, after being recalled for righty Brandon Medders, who was optioned to Tucson.

"He's a guy we really need to get right," Manager Bob Melvin said of Medders, who struggled with giving up the longball in particular.

--UT Albert Callaspo was caught on the hidden ball trick against Boston when Julio Lugo slipped behind him at second base, and then as Callaspo lifted his hand off the base and arose, was tagged out in an embarrassing moment. "I was thinking the pitcher had the ball," Callaspo said. The last time Arizona was nailed on the hidden ball trick, another Boston player, third baseman Mike Lowell, then with Florida, caught Luis Terrero off third base in 2005.

--Manager Bob Melvin on his team's three-game series against New York at Yankee Stadium: "We may talk a little, but I don't think it's something we really need to delve into. They'll feel it when they're out there. You don't want to freak them out before they go out as well. It's a great place to play. There's a lot of energy, and it's fun. If I'm going to stress anything, that's what I would stress."

BY THE NUMBERS:
31 -- OF Eric Byrnes' streak of reaching base in consecutive games via a hit or a walk, which he did from May 5 to June 9, tying Matt Williams' streak from 1999-2000, for fourth place in club history.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He can be the type of guy players might be reluctant to approach because they think he's abrasive, aggressive, whatever. But you'll never meet anyone who's more accountable than Randy. If he even just passes that along, that would be something." -- Diamondbacks pitching coach Bryan Price on Randy Johnson, who is reaching out to younger pitchers, both in the system and in other organizations, in an effort to pass along some of his wisdom and knowledge.

MEDICAL WATCH:

3B Chad Tracy (rib cage strain) went on the disabled list on May 16. He was activated June 10 and was in the starting lineup against Boston.

LHP Randy Johnson (stiff back) left his May 30 start after 61 pitches. He missed his May 25 start with forearm tendinitis. He started June 5 and again June 10.

OF Jeff DaVanon (left ankle, right shoulder surgery) opened the season on the disabled list. He was still bothered by a sore right shoulder in early June, and there was no timetable for his return.



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IF Alberto Callaspo (profile)
1B Tony Clark (profile)
SP Randy Johnson (profile)
RP Brandon Medders (profile)
RP Jailen Peguero (profile)
3B Mark Reynolds (profile)
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