AJ Hinch to Replace Melvin as D-backs Manager
A.J. Hinch

Posted May 8, 2009


The Diamondbacks fired manager Bob Melvin and hitting coach Rick Schu on Thursday night, after which pitching coach Bryan Price resigned. Director of player development A.J. Hinch will be announced as the manager at a Friday afternoon press conference, a source with knowledge of the hiring said Thursday night.

The D-backs informed Bob Melvin and Rick Schu of their dismissal after the team returned to Phoenix from an eight-game road trip that concluded with a 4-3, 10-inning loss in San Diego on Thursday afternoon. Bryan Price, one of Melvin's closest friends, quit when he heard the news.

"Bob has done great things for this organization," D-backs general manager Josh Byrnes said. "Having worked with him for nearly four years, I have a great deal of respect for his character and skills. This is a difficult decision, but I feel that our organization needs to move forward with a new voice. I am grateful for all the success and memories associated with Bob."

A.J. Hinch, a catcher who spent all or part of eight seasons in the major leagues, has never managed at any level. He has served as the Diamondbacks' farm director since 2006.

The D-backs (12-17) are 8 1/2 games in the NL West and have the worst batting average (.225), worst on-base percentage (.297) and worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.192) in the major leagues. They have one hit in their last 36 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Melvin won the NL Manager of Year voting while leading the D-backs to the 2007 NL West title and NL Championship Series. That team finished 90-72 and set a major league record by becoming the first club to lead its league in victories despite scoring fewer runs that it gave up, 732-712.

The D-backs started 20-8 last season and led the NL West from April 6 to Sept. 6 before being overtaken by the Dodgers. They are 74-89 since their fast start last year.

The team trumpeted its outfield depth in the offseason, but Justin Upton (.294) is the only outfielder hitting over .200. Eric Byrnes (.133) has one hit in his last 31 at-bats, and Chris Young (.174) has one hit in his last 25 at-bats, and that was on a misplayed grounder. Conor Jackson is hitting .191.

Schu joined the team at the 2007 All-Star break when the offense was struggling. Price was Baseball America's minor league coach of the year in 2007.

PADRES 4, DIAMONDBACKS 3 (10 innings): The offense continued to struggle, getting only five hits and going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The Diamondbacks fell five games under .500.  OF Justin Upton had two hits to extend his career-best hitting streak to 14 games. RHP Dan Haren gave up three runs in six innings in his seventh quality start of the season and helped with his bat, doubling home a run and scoring another in the second inning.  Former Diamondback David Eckstein became the latest ex-Snake to haunt his old tem by providing the Padres with the game-winning hit in the 10th off Esmerling Vasquez.

SNAKE BYTES

--Bob Melvin, fired Thursday night after the Diamondbacks returned from San Diego, is the winningest manager in Arizona history, going 337-340 in four-plus seasons. The D-backs are obligated to pay him through 2010, the final year of a contract that was renegotiated after the D-backs won the NL West in 2007. His career record is 493-508 record, including two seasons managing Seattle (2003-04).

--Schu, who had been with the D-backs organization since its inception in 1998, replaced Kevin Seitzer as the hitting coach on July 11, 2007, when the offense was struggling. He was a minor league coach with four affiliates and also served as the minor league hitting coordinator on two separate occasions.

--Price served as Melvin's pitching coach in Seattle from 2003-04 and joined him with the D-backs in 2006 after also being courted by the Florida Marlins. The D-backs' 2007 staff ranked No. 4 in the NL in ERA.  He and Melvin are good friends and neighbors in north Phoenix and spend time mountain biking together.

--SS Josh Wilson has the Diamondbacks' last hit with runners in scoring position, a run-scoring single in the second inning of 7-2 loss at Los Angeles on Monday. Diamondbacks hitters are 1-for-36 with runners in scoring position in their last five games. They are hitless in their last 29 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

--OF Chris Young did not start against San Diego RHP Chris Young when the teams met Thursday. The reason? The Diamondbacks' Young is 0-for-14 with three walks and eight strikeouts against the Padres' Young.

--OF Justin Upton extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games with a single and a double Thursday. He hit third in the order for the second consecutive day in an attempt to jump-start the feeble offense. Upton has boosted his average from .167 to .294 during the streak, a stretch that includes all six of his homers.

--RHP Dan Haren made his major league-leading seventh consecutive quality start at San Diego on Thursday. He is only 3-3 despite a 1.84 ERA. Haren was unable to add to a three-game winning streak because he failed to hold 2-0 and 3-2 leads in a 4-3, 10-inning loss at San Diego. Haren has 51 strikeouts in 49 innings and has limited opponents to a .193 batting average.

DIAMOND STAT: 337-340 - Melvin's career managerial record with Arizona

QUOTABLE: "I believe that Bob is an outstanding major league manager, and it tears my heart out that he's not managing this ballclub any more. Our relationship extends beyond a working relationship. I hope more people, when they look at this, will understand and admire the work he did with this group." --Former pitching coach Bryan Price


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