Reactions to the Coolbaugh Tragedy
Chad Tracy (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Posted Jul 24, 2007


While Diamondbacks fans celebrate a three-game winning streak and fret over the health of Chad Tracy and the contract status of Eric Byrnes, tragedy strikes the baseball world. Minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh died after being struck by a foul ball this Sunday.

INSIDE PITCH

The Diamondbacks were saddened to hear of the death Sunday of minor-league coach Mike Coolbaugh, who was hit in the head by a foul ball while coaching first base for Class AA Tulsa, part of the Colorado Rockies' organization.

Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale is a good friend of Coolbaugh's brother, Scott, and he and others discussed the tragedy before Monday's game against the visiting Florida Marlins.

"Every time you go out there, it's just one of those things that can happen," Hale said. "If it's your time, it's your time. But it's a sad thing for Mike. I know talking to Scott; he was extremely excited about getting back in the game this way."

First and third base coaches are aware of the dangers that can happen by a screaming line drive.

"I've had plenty (of scary moments)," Hale said. "Scott Hairston hit one last year I'll never forget in Triple-A, right over my head. You just thank God every time you don't get hit."

First base coach Lee Tinsley said he rarely has time to protect himself because he gets so focused doing his job.

"I've gotten hit a couple times over there," Tinsley said. "You're paying attention to the runner, looking at the first baseman maybe trying to pick. All of sudden, you turn. You're down the baseline and all of a sudden, they hook a pitch. The first thing you do is you look and you freeze."

Marlins bench coach Carlos Tosca, who spent the past two seasons as the Diamondbacks' third base coach, suffered broken bones in his foot last spring training when a foul ball hit by Eric Byrnes struck him hard.

Texas League President Tom Kayser expressed profound sorrow in the following statement:

On behalf of the entire Texas League family I want to express our heartfelt condolences to Mike’s wife Mandy, sons Joseph and Jacob and all the members of his family.  This is a tragedy beyond words. Mike was just beginning the next phase of his baseball career, as a hitting coach, something he was enjoying and finding great satisfaction in very quickly. His passing will be deeply felt by his many friends in this and many other leagues in professional baseball. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Coolbaugh family.

Mike Coolbaugh's Professional Record

DIAMONDBACKS 4, MARLINS 3: Doug Davis worked out of a shaky first inning and retired 12 of 14 batters in one stretch, while the offense provided the left-hander with just enough help as Arizona won its third straight game to open a seven-game homestand.

The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the first off lefty Doug Davis, but Orlando Hudson hit a two-run homer in the third to tie the score at 2-2. Hudson later added an RBI single in the sixth, as did Chris Snyder to put the Diamondbacks ahead.

Hudson drove in three runs for the first time since June 15 and Snyder has 10 hits in his last 23 at-bats, raising his average to .239. With his team ahead 4-3 and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, manager Bob Melvin had rookie pitcher Micah Owings pinch-hit for reliever Tony Pena. Owings drew a walk and moved to second on an infield bunt by Chris Young.

Davis (7-10) struck out a season-high eight batters and Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his 31st save. The Arizona bullpen has now worked 10 1/3 scoreless innings.

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Livan Hernandez, who starts against the Marlins on Tuesday and is 10-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 23 starts against his former team, has allowed at least one home run in each of his last 10 starts.

--INF Chad Tracy had an MRI exam on Monday that revealed some inflammation in his right knee and he was kept out of the starting lineup. Manager Bob Melvin said he will let the knee calm down before starting Tracy again, but offered no timetable other than to say the situation probably won't result in a trip to the disabled list.

--OF Eric Byrnes has stolen at least one base in seven of his last eight games and established a new single-season career high after stealing his 26th base on Sunday at Wrigley Field. After stealing 25 bases a year ago for the Diamondbacks, Byrnes ranks fourth on the club's all-time steals list (51) despite not even being with the team for two full seasons.

--Manager Bob Melvin on management's decision to halt contract talks with free agent-to-be outfielder Eric Byrnes: "If there's a sliver of an opening in the door, that's the way I'm going to handle it. If there's a chance that we could potentially sign him, that's how I'm going to look at it. I don't want to close any doors on a guy that we like here across the board, from the front office to the on-field personnel. And he likes being here, so I don't count anything out."

--LHP Randy Johnson played catch on Monday and likely will throw a 40- to 50-pitch simulated game on Tuesday as he tries to recover from a herniated disk in his back. He has been on the disabled list since July 3.

"Depending on how he feels... leading up to (Tuesday) will dictate whether he does it or not," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're not accelerating. We're staying consistent with how he feels and where we want to go at that particular timeframe."

--C Chris Snyder found himself hitting in the No.6 hole on Monday against the Marlins, a day after hitting a big home run in the Diamondbacks' victory over the Cubs in Wrigley Field.

"He's getting hits," manager Bob Melvin said of Snyder, who was hitting .421 (8-for-19) following the All-Star break.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14 -- Strikeouts by RHP Juan Cruz during a six-game stretch, ending July 21 at Chicago.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Overall, I think their progress is a little behind what we expected it to be. I expected them to come onto the scene and have a little more success. I'm the one who had them the most and it disappoints me." -- Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale, who managed the core group of Arizona's struggling young hitters for the past three seasons at Class AAA Tucson.



Related Stories
Byrnes Unlikely to Re-Sign with Diamondbacks
 -by DiamondbacksDaily.com  Jul 20, 2007
Conor Jackson in Left Field?
 -by DiamondbacksDaily.com  Jul 17, 2007
Eric Byrnes Wants to Remain in Arizona
 -by DiamondbacksDaily.com  Jul 14, 2007

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